Service to man is service to God
NASHIKTA AUTHAR ANGADH is a Partner in KPMG and heads up the Business Resilience and Continuity Services unit of South Africa. Her function can be summarised as preparing clients for planned and unplanned disasters. She involves herself with organisations at a deep level to understand their critical processes and the potential risks they face to develop a "fit for purpose recovery strategy" to be used in the event of a disaster.
When Nashikta was thrown into the deep end to take the reins in leading Business Resilience for KPMG she began by "rolling up her sleeves, embracing the books, and soaking up and entrenching herself in the information". Along the way, she gained critical insights into client practices. A mentor, "her North Star" offered valuable support and advice. She also learned from her team that supported her. Ultimately, things came together, and she became recognised as a leading expert in her field, progressing in the firm to where she is today.
Nashikta finds inspiration in books, videos and in various people, including her selfless and elegant mom. Her dad is, however, her main source of inspiration. He did not finish school and his limited financial means made starting a business difficult. Additionally, he had serious health issues, but he overcame the odds and made a success of life.
"Looking past his business success, he is an amazing soul," she says, one who changed many people's lives. His belief, "service to man is service to God" became her belief too, allowing her to balance her accomplishments with remembering who she is and where she comes from.
Deal with internal barriers
To demonstrate the difference between men and women in business, Nashikta uses a recent event. She was in a boardroom with "powerful men and women from across SA". The tea lady walked in and placed a tea tray on the table between a gentleman and a lady. The lady glared at the tray in a way that suggested she thought serving tea would reduce her power in the room. However, the gentleman got up and cheerfully served the tea. This incident made Nashikta realise that: "as women, we need to deal with the internal barriers we create for ourselves that prevent us from being what we can be and doing what we need to do. Women need to be bold enough to make the tea without worrying what everyone thinks and what their opinions are."
Historically, there were many challenges between men and women, however businesses have progressed and created numerous platforms for women, which should be embraced.
A work-life balance requires structure
Nashikta has an excellent support structure which contributes hugely to her work-life balance; both her mother and mother-in-law look after her son when she is travelling, allowing her to focus on work. The KPMG work environment is very flexible, making it easier to get things done anywhere and at any time. She makes sure not to diddle-daddle and focuses on business during business hours, so work in her personal time is unnecessary. Nashikta is grateful for her wonderful husband who takes charge with chores around the house and is a hands on Dad. He has been her pillar of strength and encourages her to grab on to opportunities, even if it results in added pressure on himself. She quips, "If all else fails, just pray for energy, tolerance, patience, and guidance to be a good parent, because that is the most important aspect of a work-life balance."
Her spiritual background is very important to Nashikta. She belongs to the Sri Sathya Sai organisation which is based on five human values: "truth, love, nonviolence, right conduct, and peace". She tries to live by these in everything she does.
Nashikta sustained serious injuries in a vehicle accident during 2013. Spinal surgery prevented permanent paralysis, but she was confined to her bed for three months and had to learn to regain movement and walk during a long, difficult recovery. She says her spirituality carried her during this tough time and made her appreciate life.
When KPMG experienced difficulties in recent years she felt alarmed but did not leave and tried to demonstrate the five values as a leader. She believes leadership is tested during challenging circumstances, not when everything seems good.
She is happy with what she has achieved and proud of winning the Business Continuity Institute's 2019 award for "Business Continuity Institute, Africa, Resilience and Continuity Specialist". She is hoping for further success in the global category. Being involved in developing continuity strategies for businesses and government departments, Nashikta says the "philanthropist in her" wants to take this a step further and develop a strategy for South Africa. She explains: "If the country is faced with something similar to a 9/11 attack or escalated xenophobic attacks, SA has to be ready and I want to make sure that we are."
The advice Nashikta would give her younger self is not to shy away from shining and be confident in her strengths. Being diligent and assiduous, she stood out at primary school, making her unpopular with some kids. She then held back to avoid attracting attention during high school. But at university and with her career, Nashikta says, "I decided to just be my authentic self. This allowed me to excel and get to where I am."
Nashikta Authar Angadh
NASHIKTA AUTHAR ANGADH is a Partner in KPMG and heads up the Business Resilience and Continuity Services unit of South Africa