I am a facilitator of personal transformation, coaching individuals and organisations in their quest for conscious evolution. Amazingly, my work life today comprises of travelling internationally as a speaker and trainer on organisational culture, conscious business, women in leadership, and self-awareness for work-life balance, as well as Indian wisdom and wellness traditions.

Not that I had quite planned it all when I started my career in Public Relations back in 1988! A happy Indian Naval Officer’s daughter, I graduated from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai in Life Sciences and Biochemistry, followed by a diploma in Social Communications Media from Sophia Polytechnic. I went on to spend 10 years heading Corporate Communications and PR for major corporations such as ITC-Welcomgroup, Philips India, and ESPN STAR Sports.

At the ripe age of 32, and the height of my professional career, overseeing corporate communications for 25 countries across Asia-Pacific, doing what I thought was the best work of my life, I had an inexplicable and sudden sense of failure which brought on an existential crisis and urgent search for meaning. I had the trophy husband (Vijay was a successful advertising executive) and two perfect children, a boy and girl.

I had bought a house and met every material aspiration. A question loomed large: Had I made a difference? Was there not a purpose to life beyond the pay-cheque?

And so I quit my full-time job and took up the study of yoga and Vedanta, later qualifying as a yoga teacher from the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre and getting deeply immersed in the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Two years into my spiritual quest, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer at 40. This catapulted me into the world of holistic health and integrative medicine. We embraced the experience and decided to grow through whatever we were undergoing. We returned to India in 2004 to set up a leadership consulting firm and an integrative medicine practice.

We went on to publish My Cancer Is Me, outlining our holistic and integrative approach to cancer. Vijay today calls himself a Cancer Thriver and has found his purpose in setting up a cancer coaching online global service based on the book.

I was meanwhile sure that I needed to write my second book, as a book-end to this one. Health and growth being two-sides of the same coin, the same integral yoga approach could be used to synthesise a model for personal growth and conscious leadership. I was by now a part of the conscious capitalism movement, the main tenet of which is conscious leadership.

And as a woman I was acutely waking up to the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which we are disempowered, to the detriment of all. I told its co-founder, Raj Sisodia, that we needed to write a book outlining a model for leadership that would work for women as well men, and that would integrate wisdom from the East as well as the West. Most of all, call for Shakti, the power of Presence, as the true power-base leaders need to draw from instead of false, privilege-based power.

Shakti Leadership seems to have captured the zeitgeist, coming as it did just as the Women’s Marches and #MeToo movement has gone global. The book makes a case to end the battle of the sexes and become fully human, regardless of gender. And for all men and women to rise in love together. So! A corporate refugee turned yogini, I find myself now a global missionary.

Focussed on building the Shakti Fellowship, a network of women change agents, social/business innovators who collaborate to create peace, prosperity and beauty through the exchange of multiple forms of capital.

At 51 and heroically journeying many times, through my mother’s cancer, father’s near-fatal car accident and brain injury, husband’s cancer, and my own search for meaning and purpose, I look back with amazement at my bucket list of world destinations that have very few places left to tick off.

Having lived in Germany, Singapore, London and Hong Kong, as an avid traveller, I have recently found great meaning in leading Shakti Tours or joining Peace Pilgrimages to the world’s sacred spots, from Kailash and Mansarovar in the Himalayas, to Machu Picchu and Titicaca in the Andes.

Comfortable in every culture and socio-economic setting, from cleaning toilets to dining with CEOs and interviewing world leaders, I speak five languages and truly call the whole planet home.

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  • Nilima Bhat


    Nilima Bhat is a visionary in the fields of personal mastery, leadership, gender equality and well-being. Her extensive and pioneering body of work is encompassed in her two books, Shakti Leadership – Embracing Feminine and Masculine Power in Business and My Cancer Is Me – The Journey from Illness to Wholeness. Together they outline new and cutting-edge holistic and integrated approaches to Leadership and Resilience.