Ms. Pooja Prabhakar as CEO & Managing Partner, develops and drives the vision and strategy at BCP Associates and is a dynamic innovative leader and legal influencer – with a career spanning 2 diversely different countries and fields over 2 decades in the US and India. Pooja Prabhakar is a highly competent Risk Management specialist and is the recipient of the LexFalcon Legal Award 2021 & 2022 which befittingly recognises her accomplishments as an influencer and pathbreaker in the legal and tech fields. After she moved back from the US, where she held leadership positions at Fortune 50 companies, she took over the reins of BCP Associates where she envisioned and successfully rolled out enterprise programs in Legal Audit & Advisory, POSH & People Strategy across several large companies in India including the creation of innovative Legal Technology that has widespread use in the industry today. While in the US, Pooja was part of the core team that implemented the first Sarbanes-Oxley audit and compliance program and led several initiatives including enterprise e-Discovery, nation-wide launches of health insurance products and was a member of the Emerging Leadership program at CIGNA Healthcare.
Pooja holds a Master of Science degree in Management from Central Connecticut State University and a Bachelor of Engineering in Information Science & Technology from Bangalore University, India. Pooja is certified in Risk Management from London School of Economics and is a ‘Certified Corporate Director’, World Council for Corporate Governance, UK (Institute of Directors). Additionally, she is the Vice-President of Karnataka Employers’ Association (KEA); Expert Committee Member – Young BCIC; Member – CII, EODB Task Force & CEO Forum, BCIC-Entrepreneurship Committee, FICCI FLO – Head of MSME Vertical and member of NASSCOM. Earlier, she was the Vice-Chairman of Young Entrepreneurs Committee, FKCCI and has been a speaker at several National Forums including National Law School on topics she is passionate about such as the Migrant Labour Crisis and Social Security for the Unorganised sector. Pooja has also won awards in 2 prestigious categories: Woman Achiever Award & Woman Leadership Award – Excellence in Legal at the 7th edition of Future Woman Leader Digital Summit & Awards 2021 held by Transformance Forums which recognizes and celebrates Woman Leadership from across India.
“Never view anyone as a female or male leader. A leader is a leader and that is the bottom line. Once viewed neutrally this way, it sets one up for success no matter what the circumstances...”
1. You are a brand. How would you describe it?
I think my strength lies in being steadfast, consistent & objective. Having a clear goal and then pursuing it by prioritizing the important things, brings about the right outcomes and success eventually. I have followed the path of being focused and fearless in everything I do, whether it is in my professional or personal life.
2. Which woman do you admire most?
3. Who inspired you to become a leader and why?
It was not a conscious decision to become a leader. It was perhaps innate in me and came out naturally. As I recognized and identified that trait, I consciously observed leaders around me (both big and small) to imbibe and inculcate leadership attributes and learned from them.
4. What are you most proud of doing?
Following my dreams. Despite the uncertainties and doubts, I am proud of the fact that I followed my gut and my instincts to pursue what I believed would be the right path for me. By returning to India from the US, about 12 years ago and fulfilling my dream of taking my father's legacy forward, has proven to be the best thing in my life both from a professional and personal standpoint. It has also provided me an opportunity to give back to society and do something meaningful which would not have been easy had I lived outside India.
5. What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
My biggest message here is never to view oneself as a female or male leader. A leader is a leader and that is the bottom line. Once viewed neutrally this way, it sets one up for success no matter what the circumstances. Concentrating on the job and responsibilities at hand and setting aside all other distractions and social distortions should be the sole focus.
6. What are the top things you learned from your father?
7. As a leader in your organization, how do you inspire your team?
I lead by example and lead from the front. By clearly demonstrating and articulating what I do and why, coupled with working in an open and transparent fashion, everyone in my organization has visibility into my work and efforts. This sets the tempo, and most members then naturally follow the overall ethos.
8. What factors have helped you most to build a successful career?
Everything I do is anchored in these four tenets: Professionalism, Neutrality, Objectivity, and Process. Incorporating process, methodology, and technology into all aspects of my work and following strict rigor and discipline, has helped me achieve consistent growth right from the stage when I was an entry-level professional to a being a business owner and strategist today.
9. What was the biggest risk you took?
Some of the biggest risks I have taken are designing and bringing solutions into the industry ahead of its times. Envisioning a future need and combining it with existing capabilities, I was never afraid of offering to the labour and employment law industry a suite of solutions that were relevant but almost non-existent. Eventually the belief and persistence paid-off and made it a worthwhile risk to take.
10. What motivates you the most?
I am most motivated by the middle path. I don't take extreme or biased views and always believe in balance. Doing something to the best of my ability and excelling by own standards is what drives me.
11. How do you engage and empower others?
By giving them an environment where there is enough freedom to think and act. By providing just the right level of guide rails to ensure that everyone is aligned and on the same path and not interfering after that. I also believe that active demonstration of what one intends to achieve is essential for creating an ecosystem of growth and evolution for each individual who is a part of it. Another key factor is clear and effective communication at all times.
12. Share one of your biggest failures and lessons learned.
Most of my failures have revolved around getting pressured to do something that I don't believe in. For instance, whenever I had been pushed to engage resources or undertake assignments that I had not felt would be a good fit, it eventually ended up being detrimental. I have over a period of time course-corrected and learned to go with my gut and what admits to my reasoning and logic and do what I believe to be right.
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