Phenomenal Women of AltoPartners – Reenu Saraf
‘Better call Reenu.’ She’s been described as “one of the best firefighters” in the business, with outstanding problem-solving skills. Meet Reenu Saraf, Partner in the Mumbai office of Accord India, where she heads up the Healthcare & Lifesciences practice group.
Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in the beautiful valley of Jammu and Kashmir in India. I grew up in the summer capital of Srinagar (the area has a winter and a summer capital due to the extremes of temperature) and spent my foundation years at a well-known convent school there.
What was your childhood career dream?
As a child, my career dreams ranged from becoming a professional singer to becoming a polished and poised news anchor on TV! I was known for my insatiable curiosity: asking questions and debating issues were my hallmark.
What did you do when you left school?
I studied for a bachelor’s degree in Electronics from Delhi University, followed by a management degree from the International Management Institute (IMI). A science degree was ideal for me, as it taught me to be factual, inquisitive and a problem solver. The business management qualification rounded off the base degree to prepare me for the professional world.
What was your first job?
My first job was in sales with a Telecom company, involving business development in high-end internet/data centres. At this time, the internet revolution had just hit India, and it was an exciting time to be selling bandwidth.
How did you get into executive recruitment? By design, or by accident?
Absolutely by accident. I was being interviewed for a client role, but the staffing company offered me a role. Almost immediately, I realised I had found my calling and have never looked back!
What motivates you to do what you do?
The continuous learning (and unlearning!) keeps me agile and always on the front foot. Every candidate and client I interact with presents unique perspectives and challenges, and it’s very fulfilling to be able to help them achieve their business objective by making optimal hiring decisions. The process is never a straight line, and I quite enjoy being the go-to “Problem Solver.”
Do you have a mentor? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard so far?
In my career, I have had the privilege to work with excellent mentors and leaders, and I observed them closely. I learned extensively from them while developing my individual style of doing business. No mantra was ever whispered to me, but my biggest takeaway has been developing the art of patience and perseverance.
How do you relax and unwind?
I love music, and I love to stay active by regularly following a fitness regime.
Do you have a superpower?
I believe we all have superpowers; the challenge is how to harness them! I think mine is resilience. I endeavour to bring that into play, especially when I face challenges in life!
Name one thing you love about the work you do.
The vast landscape of talent I get to interact with! It’s amazing to learn about different perspectives, experience unique leadership styles and grapple with all sorts of business challenges. I feel privileged that organisations value our perspectives and advice on leadership issues.