Sonya Hooja, Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder at Imarticus Learning, plays a key role in developing and implementing business strategy, directing business development, and recruiting top talent. In her career of over 12 years, she has been involved in strategy development and project management roles across diverse industries such as financial services, education, tourism, public sector and pharmaceuticals. In 2012, she co-founded Imarticus Learning along with Nikhil Barshikar with an aim to make aspiring professionals in the financial services and analytics domain fully equipped with the necessary skills to excel in their careers. On this International Women’s Day, Sonya Hooja talks about importance of women to be in leadership roles, obstacles she faced during her journey to the top and many more.
Do you think women in leadership roles are still a minority in India? How can we increase the number of Indian women in leadership roles?
Yes, definitely. Women are still under-represented statistically in the higher echelons of India’s corporate landscape. With that being said, the past decade has been hugely encouraging for women business leaders and entrepreneurs in India, with several state and Central government initiatives to raise the standards of women in business coming into existence. In order to increase the number of Indian women in corporate leadership positions, tech-based education, professional training and support from Government entities are some of the basic requirements in this digital age.
When looking specifically at planning and management, why is it important that we have women in leadership positions?
It’s vital for women to hold senior leadership positions because we form a very large part of the corporate skilled workforce. Women are equally as adept at men when it comes to working with New Age technology and implementing modern business solutions, which means that women are more than capable of leading a business’s planning and management strategy along with multi-tasking skills.
As a woman in a leadership position, what was this journey like for yourself? How were you able to overcome the different obstacles encountered?
Being a woman business leader has undoubtedly brought with it unique workplace challenges and tribulations. However, by staying focussed and motivated to exceed expectations and perceived limitations, and with the support of my amazing family, co-workers and employees, I have been able to make huge strides, both personally and professionally, during my relatively young entrepreneurial journey.
Do you consider yourself a leader at Imarticus Learning? What do you feel you bring to the role that inspires others to see you as a leader?
Yes, of course! I am a calming influence, and I always manage to keep my employees and colleagues focussed on our business ambitions. It’s been a learning journey for me as well, being in a position of leadership, but those who have reported to me have always improved themselves professionally and personally under my guidance.
As a leader in the education space, what would you like to change in the field of professional skill development and training?
The whole reason we established Imarticus Learning was to help India by trying to bridge the enormous skill gap that was plaguing the country at the time. Since then, we have launched the careers of more than 35,000 budding professionals with our world-class tech-enabled training programs. Looking ahead, I would like to see more women in leadership positions, like myself, in the education sector. I believe that I am a testament that women are well-equipped to lead a top-tier learning institution.
What projects or goals are you working on or leading currently?
A host of them. Soon, we will be launching a program in Fintech, MBA in Investment Banking. On the Tech front, we are planning to introduce programs covering Cloud Computing & Cybersecurity. We have strong plans to further develop our ISA (Income Share Agreement) programs. Besides this, we are building a strong portfolio of products in collaboration with leading Indian & global universities.
Do you have any thoughts you would like to share for women carving a top management space?
I believe that eating healthy, clocking the right amount of sleep, investing in physical & mental fitness, and most importantly, spending time with loved ones, are vital for women and men alike in top-level management.