Varsha Waishampayan

Changing your work-life to welcome more freedom and fulfillment is a process and a journey. Here, every month, we will share stories of women who are doing it. Real stories, real transformation. This is a virtual treasure chest -- full of the challenges, struggles, lessons and insights of others -- which you can use to enrich your own path.

This month’s featured “woman on purpose” is Varsha Waishampayan. She is a Senior Solution Delivery Manager and a thought leader with 27 plus years of strong track record of delivering IT and OPS solutions to address complex business opportunities. Her experience ranges from working in the Financial Industries to one of the top five consulting firms aligned to Financial Services and finally founder of a non-profit.

Describe the big shift you’ve made in your work-life. What led you to that change?

My father always saw a teacher in me. My first job after college was to teach at the University in India as a professor of chemistry. After coming to the USA, I gave up teaching and worked for several big Wall Street companies learning what it took to climb the corporate ladder. At first, it was satisfying to attain short term goals, be exposed to senior management and get more “important” positions increasingly. But what it lacked was the opportunity for me to learn to think and act and like a real leader – to affect change, inspire others and allow my passion to drive my work. How could I be the teacher my father saw in me if I did not know how to be a passionate leader?

So I tried changing jobs – starting over to see if I could find my purpose and my passion. In each of the new companies there were mentoring programs, but what I found was these mentoring programs were more about how I needed to change to be a better employee for the company and to attain higher positions -- not how to be a leader or inspire others. This opportunity led us to form WINGS for Growth. 

What were you most fearful of in making that change?

The thought of quitting my job made me somewhat apprehensive in the beginning. Dealing with unknowns made me nervous. But I knew one that thing that I was not going to quit. I wanted my father, family, and colleagues to be proud of me for trying something bigger than me. A few months of perseverance and hard work made me realize I was waking up happy every day even after working for 10-12 hours a day. It felt good to tell my father that finally, I have listened to his advice. This advice became my purpose in my life. If anything I was afraid that I don’t have enough hours in a day to do what we commissioned ourselves to do. 

How is your experience of life different now?

I realize when you are passionate about your cause, people open doors for you and help any whichever way they can. It does not require a lot of selling or convincing. People connect with you because they see your honesty and integrity, and then they become part of your journey. Despite being so busy with WINGS, I am enjoying doing things I never had time to do. I sing, I read and I work out on my free time. I am reconnecting with my friends and family. I am enjoying nature, and finally, soon I am going to start traveling and use those miles I have collected on my business travels. 

What’s your biggest concern in this moment?  

My biggest concern is that we will not be able to scale quickly; there is so much to do and not enough people and funding. But that is a good problem to have. Women need to help each other more. We need to have the confidence to drive our passion. WINGS is committed to its mission of growing aspiring women into the leader of the future, but these women have to take the first step. I am afraid that finally, we have the platform for senior leaders to give back in a meaningful way, now women have to take the first step towards making their dream their priority, not their job.

What are you most excited about going forward?

I am very excited that we have many senior leaders who are associated with us today and are part of the journey together. I am very excited that this is a nonprofit work which allows us to bring many senior business leaders as mentors. We built an efficient methodology to deliver this important initiative. Millennials are responding to our program very positively. We are only a few months old, and we have come a long way. I am learning every day from such amazing people in WINGS who are passionate about teaching, giving back and feeling rewarded. When we are together, there is unstoppable energy in the room.

If you could travel back in time, what’s one piece of advice that your current self wishes that you could tell your former self?

Managing volunteers in a non-profit organization is the most arduous task, and I have learned that this is a two-way street. When volunteers come to work for you, they also need to get something out of it. That is the only way volunteer model will be sustainable. I also learn that you have to be very committed and persistent to deliver something of this caliber. There are many declines and rejections which require changing course frequently. We must recover gracefully and quickly from these rejections. You cannot blame anyone but yourself when you make mistakes, and the only way to move forward is to learn from them. 

About Varsha Waishampayan

Varsha, CEO and Founder of WINGS is a senior manager and a thought leader with 25 plus years of strong track record of delivering IT and OPS solutions to execute on large complex business initiatives. She has assisted C-level executives to deliver on their organization level initiatives. Varsha was a professor of Chemistry and taught graduate courses. She has worked with few large Non-Profits; Varsha is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of WINGS for Growth and she enjoys throwing parties, listening to music and going to the spa.  

WINGS for Growth's mission is to Inspire, Enable, and Empower talented young women to become leaders of the future through impactful mentoring, coaching and networking with visionary, successful, and caring leaders and role models.