Shilpa Mandhan was a young consultant for Accenture early in her career working on an engagement at a well-known North American retailer when she realized two things. At her firm, female representation at the executive level dropped off dramatically, and women in general did not experience the same level of confidence when working on client teams as their male counterparts.
Seeing a need, Ms. Mandhan decided to push for change. Seeking and gaining buy-in, Ms. Mandhan established a women’s network chapter for Accenture’s large on-site team. Eventually the network expanded to include women from her client’s team, which not only benefitted the client’s employees but also strengthened Accenture’s relationship with the key client.
During her time as a Client Services Associate Director for Precima, a LoyaltyOne Company, Ms. Mandhan was a highly respected and inclusive leader committed to advancing women in corporate Canada. In her role as an advisor for Precima’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI), LoyaltyOne’s women’s employee resource group (ERG), she is credited with leading the ERG’s revitalization, which involved refreshing objectives and goals and expanding the ERG internationally to the UK operations.
Revitalizing Precima’s Women’s Leadership Initiative
Quickly realizing that one of the challenges facing Precima’s WLI was a lack of understanding across the broader organization of the group’s mandate and strategic purpose, Ms. Mandhan worked with other WLI advisors to revamp its mission and strategy, increase inclusion, and add value to the business. WLI advisors sought to engage more employees across the company, including men, who, while supportive of the group’s efforts, were uncertain what role they should and could play in promoting the WLI’s goals.
Expanding participation to a wider audience involved ensuring that WLI activities not only offered employee learning and development opportunities, but also included an element of fun. At one networking event, the WLI included mixology activities to attract more employees from across the organization. The WLI also gained traction with men by ensuring that any speaking events had at least one male panelist.
The revitalization resulted in increased attendance at WLI-organized events and activities, which are now more inclusively open to women and men across functions and levels at the company. The 2016 International Women’s Day event spearheaded by Ms. Mandhan was particularly successful: men represented 25% of attendees, and half of LoyaltyOne’s senior executive team participated.
Following the success of WLI’s revitalization, Ms. Mandhan led its expansion by establishing a chapter at Precima’s UK office. Recognizing the need for buy-in from Precima’s UK leadership, she deftly enlisted support from Precima’s President, Brian Ross, a great advocate of the WLI’s mission. Mr. Ross endorsed the WLI, which helped gain local leadership support in creating the WLI’s UK chapter.
Inclusive Leadership Through Empowerment
As a Precima leader, Ms. Mandhan exhibited elements of all of the inclusive leadership behaviours outlined in Catalyst’s EACH model: Empowerment, Accountability, Courage, and Humility. It was by focusing on empowerment within the teams she led that she was able to ensure her efforts to advance women in Canadian business were impactful and sustainable.
Ms. Mandhan described the revitalization of the WLI as a learning exercise for the entire group. As an advisor, she oversaw WLI’s various events, where she ensured that team members were given a range of responsibilities for parts of each event, identified and used the strengths of each team member to help execute plans, and implemented and documented new processes to help others not only run but improve future events.
About Shilpa Mandhan
Ms. Mandhan joined Precima in 2013, where she worked closely with retailers to improve the quality of their decision-making by leveraging the power of data and analytics. Prior to joining Precima, she held positions at Accenture and Epicor Retail. Ms. Mandhan holds an MBA from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from McGill University. Currently Ms. Mandhan is a Project Leader at Tulip Retail Inc., a fast-growing retail technology company.
Outside of her job, Ms. Mandhan volunteers with Indus Action, an organization dedicated to promoting free education and access to top schools for children from lower-income and disadvantaged groups in India. As a woman of Indian descent who has had access to educational opportunities in Canada, this cause is dear to her. In her spare time, she enjoys fitness activities, engaging in conversations about behavioural economics and human-centered design, and traveling.