Anjana Menon was due to start a new job as Head of Rewards and Mobility for a leading bank in India but decided she first needed some formal leadership training. She therefore joined the Building on Talent (BOT) program at IMD, attending the first of two modules in March.

"I realised that if I wanted to go to the next level, I had to be able to focus less on the actual work and more on how I could motivate and influence my staff to do things on their own”. Looking back, Anjana believes BOT gave her the grounding to achieve this, and face the challenges of running a team of five people.

As well as giving her the ability to take a step back in stressful situations, Anjana says BOT provided a platform where she could be herself, one which was different to a formal office where often people are hesitant to articulate their thoughts. “The warm IMD classroom full of friends helped me to form boundaries and now, for instance, I am able to have a straight conversation with colleagues without getting emotional," she explains.

Talking to and learning from people who didn't know her also took Anjana out of her usual environment and this helped her see different perspectives. These were emphasized by the diversity of nationalities on the program and gave way to a whole world in which a given experience can be viewed in many different ways, explains Anjana. This in turn helped her self-awareness and empathy. "In day-to-day life at work we sometimes tend to forget we are humans, even though we are all carrying emotions and baggage," she says.

By reminding her of this, BOT also taught Anjana to listen more. Following the first module of the course, she found she was more patient at work, listened more and was therefore better able to find solutions advantageous to both parties. “I could remain quietly firm and no longer over-reacted with people,” says Anjana.

The second BOT module in June found Anjana stressed because she was leaving a team behind, whose members were still getting used to her. At IMD once again her colleagues helped her calm down and made her feel better. “After that we had a lot of fun together and now plan to meet up next March in Dubai,” says the Indian manager.

Anjana says she has learned the importance of being herself and always looking for the goodness in people rather than judging them based on what others think. “The way you treat others is the way you get treated. If you are interested in people and show this interest is genuine, then this comes across and people will talk about things other than work.”

Looking back, Anjana says BOT crystallised her belief that she is a decision-maker who also facilitates others to make decisions. “I knew this before BOT but lacked confidence and so wanted to see how I would fit into the IMD environment, because I knew my colleagues there wouldn’t have anything to judge me by.”

Building on Talent (BOT) is for high-potential managers early in their career looking to take on greater responsibility.