In 2014 the Chairman of a FTSE 100 company whom I had previously interviewed for the Financial Times told me that I had “morphed into something that is not just a journalist.”
Coming from him, it was a great compliment and one on which I continue to build going forward. He meant, in part, that people tell me things when they shouldn’t, that I listen hard and have a capacity to hear the things that are said as well as what remains unsaid, and that I inspire trust, which goes hand in hand with discretion. I value intellectual curiosity and acquiring new skills in the same way I value the role the creative arts play in making us think better, and differently. Diversity is key to richness - in life, and in business. You could say that I am proud of being (like the mare I ride) a ‘work in progress’, not completely defined, not always easy to put in a box. It feels as if this will be the new normal for a younger generation.
As an independent writer and commentator, I have a strong focus on corporate governance, ethics, and the workings of the boardroom. I believe in digital transformation: the challenges are exciting.
I used my first website, created in 2009, to showcase a portfolio of writing. Two years later I launched an independent blog to capture the nuances of journalistic observation that did not always make it into a story for publication in the mainstream media. I called it Board Talk, urged to do so by the women I encountered as I covered the UK Government’s drive for female representation in FTSE 350 boardrooms. Board Talk, not “bored talk” they said, suggesting the conversation both in and around the UK’s boardrooms needed to be livened up.
Board Talk quickly picked up generous commercial sponsorship, with no editorial control, and it was renewed for four years. It was an arrangement that allowed me to rebuild a career after more than 20 years out of full-time work as a journalist after leaving a permanent job at the Financial Times. My website was now my platform. My ideas, and adept use of the internet and social media did the rest and I went from being invisible to being very visible, with global reach. A few years on, an influential PR noted that I had created my own brand, with an extraordinary capacity for engagement. Google me.
This is my second website, more suitable for a digital age. You will find links to my writing on Forbes (2013-2017) under leadership, covering a wide range of business issues including the need for diversity and inclusion and the rising tide of interest in environmental, societal and governance concerns for business, investors and stakeholders, with early coverage on climate risk. The challenges of technological transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution feature prominently there.
I have built strong connections at the most senior levels across public and private sectors. My networks are global, and the themes in my writing showcase my interests. I wear different hats in working with a variety of businesses across sectors, both privately and in public.
I spent three years on the first Alumni Advisory Board for the University of Cambridge, and was Deputy Chair of its Communications Working Group. Living up to the reputation Indians have across the world for being “over educated,” I attended Trinity College, Cambridge for an M.Phil, a third degree following a second gained at Somerville College, Oxford, and a first at Wellesley College in the United States. Born in India, I grew up in Washington, DC, where I attended National Cathedral School.
Looking back, my networks and my interest in building better businesses go back to 2002, when I worked with Laura D’Andrea Tyson, then Dean of London Business School, on her report on the Recruitment and Development of Non-Executive Directors. Since then, I have worked with a wide range of stakeholders on collaborative efforts to determine ways for business to be better aligned to create and deliver societal value. I was on the steering group for the London-based cross-party think-tank, the Centre for Progressive Capitalism, where I was in good company with my contribution (on pensions) to a book published in June 2017. I am a Visiting Fellow at the think tank CPP rolled into, the Centre for Progressive Policy, and am involved with the work of the Oslo-based global initiative, Future Boards.
In my travels on Twitter since 2008, I started a lighthearted awareness campaign around issues involving boardrooms and corporate governance by posting a cartoon every Sunday, some of which are on this site. More than a decade on, recognition of the importance of ethics for sustainable business is ever more acute, with interest steadily rising.