Gaya Chandrasekaran has been awarded Mentor of The Month for April. We spoke to her and her mentee Nilima Baxla about their experiences.
Mentor of The Month - April 2022
Mentor of The Month - April 2022
Gaya Chandrasekaran

To celebrate the WIBF Mentoring programme’s success, we launched WIBF Mentor of The Month in March 2022 to spotlight the mentors who make our mentoring programme such a valuable asset to our members.

Gaya Chandrasekaran has been awarded Mentor of The Month for April.

Gaya works in the Global Digital Solutions Group (DSG) within Santander Corporate & Investment Banking (SCIB), which focuses on developing innovative, sustainable and profitable digital capabilities and providing state of the art advisory services to clients. She joined Santander in 2014 gaining broad experience across Corporates & FIG in SCIB and has also worked on several strategic initiatives including regulatory deliverables. During this period, she has won awards and nominations to leadership programmes. Gaya has worked in India for 6 years in CIB prior to moving to London.

She recently completed the Fintech Programme from Oxford University. She holds a Masters in Finance from London Business School (Recipient of Graduating Student Award) and an MBA (Gold Medallist) from India.

Gaya’s mentee was Nilima Baxla, who has made a successful transition from an education background to Financial Services.

She has worked in Operations within Financial Services for 11 years, currently in SS&C Technologies as a Senior Technical Associate within their Risk & Controls department and has recently completed her Investment Operation Certificate from Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, London.

We spoke to both Gaya and Nilima to find out more about them and their mentoring journey.

How long have you been a member of WIBF and what inspired you to join?

Gaya: I joined WIBF in 2022 as the Head of Personal Excellence Programme (PEP) for London. I have been an active member of WIBF since September 2020 and a mentor under the WIBF Mentorship Programme since April 2021. I have attended several WIBF virtual events since, particularly ones on building confidence, imposter syndrome and personal brand, and have found the key takeaways from these events to be invaluable.

Women tend to be a bit shy or reserved when expressing their ambitions. I want women to be bold with their ambitions and I am doing my best to help them be #proudlyambitious.

Nilima: I have been a member of WIBF for ten months now. I was at a stage in my career where I was looking for a place to network with like-minded women. I am passionate about learning new things and personal development so when a friend who is also a member of WIBF spoke highly of the mentoring programme and the various inspiring events, I jumped at the opportunity. I must admit, I haven’t been disappointed at all.

Why do you think having a mentor is important?

Nilima: I think having a mentor is important because one can benefit immensely from the knowledge and expertise of an experienced professional. They provide support and encouragement to develop new skills, hone your existing skills and achieve your long-term goals.

Gaya, how long have you been mentoring for, and what is your experience of being a mentee?

Gaya: I have been mentoring juniors at work unofficially for a few years now. I have recently had feedback from two junior colleagues about my advice to them from a couple of years ago. They took me up on the advice and have been able to make relatively unconventional career moves and have successfully transitioned into new roles since.

My mentoring style is an amalgam of my broad experience as well as from any gaps from my own experience with mentors.

I have always sought mentors throughout my career. My most recent mentor managed to instil courage in me to pursue a long-forgotten dream, as a consequence, I have just made an exciting, yet relatively unconventional career move myself. Mentors instil confidence and self-belief, they also make valuable contributions to self-awareness.

And what is the greatest reward you get from mentoring?

Gaya: Being a mentor provides me with great joy and satisfaction - I have seen incredible evolution in clarity of thought and in career next steps for some of my mentees. I enjoy evoking curiosity, inspiration and ambition in people. I love to witness the soaring confidence levels in my mentees, which in turn fuels mine!

What made your partnership with Gaya so successful, Nilima?

Nilima: I believe the fact that she is very perceptive, and I had a clear sense of clarity on what I wanted to achieve. She was not just able to identify my strengths but also suggest ways to capitalise on them by providing some brilliant resources which paved the path to growth.

One core element in a mentoring relationship is trust, she provided that safe space due to which I was able to discuss my doubts openly and she provided constructive feedback. She is aware that I have a growth mindset so, although our journey has formally come to a halt, she continues to be generous with her valuable insights which in turn fuels my curiosity!

What advice would you give to anyone considering joining the WIBF mentoring programme?

Gaya: WIBF provides an amazing platform for those interested in Mentoring (seasoned or not) - the detailed guidance for both mentors and mentees goes a long way in ensuring a smooth and easy start. Mentoring is a two-way relationship where we not only share but also receive, it is an immensely rewarding partnership and journey.

Nilima: The one lesson I learnt from my mentee experience is that one must sincerely invest in this partnership. You have to take feedback and suggestions on board and work on them. It is essential to keep the communication channel open and be fully committed.

Congratulations to Gaya and thank you for being one of our dedicated mentors.

If you are interested in joining our mentoring programme, click here to find out more.