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Women In Leadership: Anne Rajasaikaran On Cultivating The Next Generation

Philanthropy was never in the cards for Imperium International College’s CEO and President Anne Rajasaikaran.

On the contrary, she was looking at a career in oil & gas as a passion pursuit. That all changed when she joined the MAA Group to handle their corporate communications, and in turn, head non-profit organisation The Budimas Charitable Foundation as its CEO and President.

Stepping into a fresh industry, Anne was left to rely on her corporate skills to guide her in running the foundation, where she sought to ‘business-fy’ its day-to-day processes and ultimately lead it to becoming a better organisation.

“To say that I was always looking to involve myself in philanthropy would be unfair,” confesses Anne. “Somewhere along the way, I found an aptness for it, and that it was something I held close to my heart. I feel like that has contributed to who and where I am today.”

And if you ever get the chance to meet her, you will undoubtedly feel her dedication to the cause; lighting up when talking about the children she’s helped over the years, whom she still shares a close bond with today.

Now, Anne is continuing her mission of nurturing the next generation in becoming successful members of society to the best of their abilities through the most crucial channel: Education.

Over the course of her time at Budimas, Anne was exposed to what a lack of academic opportunities could do to a child’s future. Even today, the effects of a poor education can be felt in our society and stepping into her role at Imperium, Anne sees that this issue stretches to youths of all backgrounds.

“It’s funny how it all came full circle,” says Anne. “I believe it's important that we are governed by people who are smart, ethical and can make educated decisions, so when I was brought onto Imperium, I could relate how important an education can be.”

“A person can be born out of pedigree but without the right education, they wouldn’t know what to do with their privilege. On the other hand, a person born into poverty can literally turn their lives around with an education,” as Anne puts it.

Her fiery spirit to foster and develop young minds matched with her unique sense of TLC doesn’t just define her person though. She constantly makes it a point to be as involved as possible in the lives of her team, who she says was a great pillar of support for her in getting Imperium up and running.

“We are always here to teach but the ability to have a great attitude and want to learn is something else. I manage a lot of people in a variety of age groups, and from the day I started, I always implemented a very inclusive management style.”

“I try to find a middle ground that allows me to connect with all of them and be involved in what’s going on with them so that I can understand them better.”

And for those wondering how she manages to juggle her many professional and aspirations to cement a work-life balance, the answer is quite simple.

“There is no such balance,” laughs Anne.

“As much as people like to advocate the idea of a balanced life, it can never truly be balanced. You can pick and choose what you decide to be good at but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get that balance,” she advises.

As a woman in leadership, Anne has worn a myriad of hats throughout her career, and as she puts it, could only be possible with time management and discipline. She goes on to advise youths and those still finding their place in the world alike to focus on honing one’s craft and to not go from one thing to another in pursuit of success.

“I see a lot of youths doing this and they often express to me that they don’t feel like they're getting anywhere and that’s because they’re going around in circles.”

“I’ve always believed that we are students for life. Never discount what you don’t know and keep asking questions. Figure out what you want to do, sink your teeth into it and make sure that you’re going to be the best at it.”

Penny For Your Thoughts

How would you define a “good life” and/versus a “successful life”? A good life would be getting to wake up, cook, work and take a nap afterwards without any worries in the world. But if you want a successful life, it's basically doing all of those things and still having the income you desire to get to that point.

So, I think you need both. You have to be at a point of success and from there, maneuver your way into the good life. But try to enjoy what you do. I think as long as you enjoy what you do, you will never take work as work because it's a very thin line between the two. Figure out what you want first.

If you could choose to be anyone in the world - who would you want to be, and why?

Ideally, Carrie Bradshaw but I could never walk in those heels and I never understood how a writer could make enough money to buy all those shoes. But I loved her fashion sense and her zest for life. But that's fictional.

In reality, I would love to know how people like Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama do it. I love their confidence and how that confidence only came after everything. I would love to know how you get to be so sure of yourself because for a lot of us it comes later on, but I feel like these two women just landed there.

Advice you would give your younger self.

I would say, 'Don't be so high-strung,' but that's easier said than done cause back then you were very unsure of yourself. I think I would've winded it and tell myself to enjoy life a little.


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