“When I go back to my village, girls ask me how I changed my life” shares Komal Rani, a 5th batch Vedica Scholar.
Komal Rani is not just the first girl from her family, but her entire village to complete her graduation. Up till class five, she worked in a factory while keeping up with her school work. A lucky scholarship opportunity from the Shiv Nadar Foundation saw her move to a boarding school to pursue education full-time. However, her luck and financial assistance dwindled as she was nearing her graduation from Gargi College, Delhi. Not disheartened, Komal was placed and accepted the offer with TCS as the start of her career. However, there was one last twist in the tale as the Vedica came calling. After the Vedica path opened up for her, she hasn’t looked back.
A non-traditional management practice programme, Vedica has been designed to empower women of today so that they can inspire future generations of women leaders. After being admitted to Vedica, she mentioned her financial constraints and need for assistance and quickly realised that Vedica is an institution that walks the talk. She achieved a 100% scholarship for the programme and joined a platform to transform herself into a leader of the future. “Now when I go back to my village, other girls ask me how I did it,” she says with a smile. Hers is a story filled with inspiration, for all!
You were heading into professional life after graduation, so how did Vedica happen?
I was thinking about MBA programmes after my B.Com. degree, however, there were major financial constraints with my family. I got placed with TCS and decided to take up the offer. But the session that the Vedica Scholars Programme for Women had conducted in my college campus always stayed on my mind. I always considered the unique and non-traditional nature of education which promised professional success to women. I eventually spoke to some of the alumni, who had fantastic praise for the programme and convinced me to take up the Vedica opportunity. Looking back at it now, I am thrilled that it has worked out this way and I chose the Vedica option.
You mentioned financial constraints, were you able to convey that during your Vedica interview?
The great thing about the selection process is that it isn’t the typical management entrance test-based admissions process, but far more comprehensive. After submitting my application. I was called for a personal interview, which I cleared. I had applied for the Scholarship post my acceptance at Vedica. Having studied from class 5 to graduation entirely on scholarships, I was able to convey my financial constraints to pursuing Vedica in the interview. My parents had asked me to come back to the village because we couldn’t afford it. However, the institute came through and provided me with the scholarship for my postgraduate education too.
Though you won the Scholarship, it must have been a difficult decision for you, going against your parents’ wishes, giving up the job.
There is this mentality in the village that girls doing an MBA isn’t a good idea. I had to really convince my parents otherwise. I knew this is what I wanted to do, so I left my TCS job after 50 days and have not looked back since.
What helped you settle in during those initial stages?
Mohini and others from the Vedica programme team continually talked to me and encouraged me. During the orientation programme, I met several women leaders, who inspired me to stay true to my course. The emotional support and career guidance I have received here are unparalleled. Another aspect is the bonding I now share with my peers. With the batch coming from such diverse educational and professional backgrounds, I feel I am learning a lot every day from their experiences.
This is your second stint in an all-girls’ setup after Gargi College. Is this a space you feel comfortable with?
I had studied in a co-ed school but I have come to realise that I can prove myself better in an all-girls’ environment. In the co-ed environment, you often feel judged and are worried about what the boys will say or think. But that’s not the case at Vedica, where you receive lots of emotional support from everyone. I remember there was a time when I went through a difficult phase, but I had batchmates to lift my spirits. We can all relate to each other because we face similar challenges and have supported each other through those.
What are the changes you have seen in yourself since you started the programme?
I used to be an introvert and was scared of talking to people. I can confidently say that I have lost that fear only six months into the programme. I am now able to express myself a lot better and I have the personal growth track and communications track for thank for that. Vedica is actually conducting extra classes to help me with my communication skills. When I see my friends doing a traditional MBA, being stuck to rigid and rigorous schedules, I appreciate the versatility of our programme even more.
Are there any specific courses or faculty members that have made an impression on you?
I really enjoy Prof. Ankur Kulshreshtha’s course because of the way he delivers it. I also had a fantastic interaction with my industry mentor, who guided me on how to go about my career trajectory. I also really enjoy engaging with my buddy mentor as well, because we can talk about everything - the challenges we face and the solutions we can find for that. Now, I am looking forward to the ‘Shadow A Woman Leader’ module next.