I’m Shweta Vyas, a Private Banker at Barclays, and this is how I Lead from Within
Shweta Vyas is a Private Banker and Assistant Vice President at Barclays Wealth, India. She’s worked in the financial industry for over 8 years, including previously in Corporate Banking at Standard Chartered Bank.
Though a Banker by profession, she’s found an avenue for serving others through the Art of Living Foundation, where she’s been teaching a variety of courses for over 5 years. Balancing her corporate and spiritual activities, she perfectly portrays the immense value spirituality can bring to Business. She is also active with the CSR team at Barclays, and works closely with corporates and individuals to help them achieve their social goals.
My Professional Journey
I started working in the financial industry right after I finished my management program. I began working with Birla Sun Life as an agent, and then a manager. Then, I moved on to Standard Chartered’s corporate banking division, and finally moved over to private banking with Barclays, which is where I am now. So, ever since I started working, the financial industry has been my platform.
Opportunities in finance came most naturally to me so I just went with the flow. The thing that I love most about what I am doing right now is that it allows me to be an integral part of my clients’ lives. For example, as a Business Developer to a client, I am actually dealing with their entire lifestyle as your personal finances are so dependent on the way you live your life. The financial industry gives me the opportunity to deal with one of the most sensitive parts of a person’s life, which is their personal wealth. Handling someone’s money is a big responsibility and requires that you have a high degree of trust and credibility with people. Being able to build those kinds of relationships gives me a high and is what drew me to the financial sector.
My Spiritual Journey
My spiritual journey began during my management studies at K. J. Somaiya. I was going from Rajasthan to Bombay with a group of friends, and on the train ride there, we met a lady who began having a conversation with us about meditation. “Do you meditate?” she asked. I remember being taken aback by that question. I had always thought meditation is something you do in your 40s or 50s, not when you are a young student. She began to tell us how important meditating could be for us, especially as students, because of the level of stress we deal with in our education. She led us into a meditation, and all I know is that that night I got the soundest sleep ever.
The next morning I woke up feeling amazing, and told her I wanted to learn more about what she had taught us the night before. She recommended I do a course with Art of Living. I did the course, and there was no looking back after that. I began meditating on a regular basis, and saw a world of difference. My temperament was much better. My focus and clarity improved. It gave me everything I needed to live an enriched life.
I think I’ve always had a spiritual inclination since childhood. I always believed there has to be more to life than just to wake up, work, sleep and that’s it. When I discovered meditation, it just made so much sense to me.
So, that’s really how my spiritual journey began.
On Spirituality in Business
My spirituality has helped my professional journey a great deal. I now connect with people with so much genuine respect and authenticity. There is no pretending and when you’re genuine people can see it because everyone has an intuitive sense about whether you’re genuine or you’re faking it. So, I think connecting with people became much more easy and that definitely helped me in my industry because I’ve always been in people centric roles. For me, spirituality went hand in hand with my work. It was never an either or for me.
My spiritual life also gives me a lot of clarity. Only once you have clarity yourself, can you lead others with clarity. If your mind is always in a state of confusion and stress, how can you provide confidence to the people on your team whom you are managing. When people see you leading with clarity and focus, and see you maintain your balance despite how stressful the situation may be, it breeds a lot of confidence in you as a leader.
I remember my first few client meetings, after I had begun meditating and volunteering with Art of Living regularly. Since I was straight out of college, many of my clients would get concerned about me. They thought I was too young to be embracing spirituality, and that I should be focusing on wining and dining and enjoying my life as a private banker instead of spoiling my life. One client told me this is something I should think about later in life when I am 50 or 60. With a smile, I just told him, “See, you’re investing in your portfolio today so that you can get better returns tomorrow. I’m investing in myself today so that I can get better returns tomorrow. There’s no point in meditating at 60 and being peaceful. I might die peacefully but I want to live peacefully as well.”
On Living with Passion
I think anything is possible when you live with passion, because your passion gives you energy. All of us have only 24 hours in a day. Nature has not given even a second more to any one person. But, when you choose to live those 24 hours with passion, there is so much more you can do.
For me everything is interwoven. I don’t separate work and life. I am not just living for the right Saturday or Sunday to go out and do good. Everything I do, I am always trying to see how I can add value to those around me. If you live like that, work-life balance can never be an issue.
To give people something they can cherish for the rest of their lives, so at the end of the day they look back with smiling faces and say, “she did something good for us” – that is my main intention to live a good life.
On Leading as a Spiritual Woman
I’m currently on the Board of Phoenix Mills. I think it’s great that we are moving towards more diverse Boards, with more senior women in decision-making roles.
One thing that is very special about women that gives us an edge as women leaders is that we rank high on both the emotional quotient and the spiritual quotient. I see this in the women all around me, our unique ability to both be attached and detached at the same time. There is so much that can happen in the course of a day, and in the course of your business life. Some deals happen; others fall through. If you can maintain your balance, and be attached when needed, and detached when needed, nothing can stop you from succeeding.
As women, we have this ability to be sensitive, we understand human values and we prize human connectivity. We don’t deal with people like flowcharts or machines. Embracing and honing our emotional and spiritual traits can help us stand apart. When you combine them with everything else that a woman brings to the table, it can be one of the most successful combinations to have in a leader. To build these traits, I would highly recommend that women take out at least 20 minutes a day to just de-stress, look within themselves and get that strength.
It is not enough to just focus on your technical skills, and keep getting one degree after another. Success hinges a great deal on your softer skills as well – how you deal with people and how you take everyone along. These softer skills cannot be acquired through academic training. You may know theoretically that you shouldn’t get angry, but you may not know how not to get angry. Right there is a breakdown between theory and practice.
I believe practicing what is right begins to come to you more naturally when you are more centered and more balanced, and for me, that has come through a practice of daily meditation and Pranayam. Both have given me an intangible strength. When you are balanced, you begin to rely more and more on your intuition. You know where to go, what to achieve, where to be at the right time, and being so highly intuitive, you know what’s happening around you, you’re aware, you’re alert. When you lead with that level of awareness and mindfulness, it is only natural that people will look to you to fill leadership roles.