Namrata Dhasmana served in the Indian armed forces for 14 years and transitioned to the corporate sector in the HR space after earning her MBA with expertise in strategy and design thinking
Shilpa Jain: You are a first-generation armed forces officer – wow! How did you decide to embark on this journey?
Namrata Dhasmana: I was doing my PR studies and was working with Gecis that time and Genpact Now, when I have applied for the Service Selection Board. The passion for doing something different was always in me. It couldn’t get better than the Indian Armed Forces. One of theories toughest interview that develops you for your life. Hence, I decided to join the Army. My keen interest for adventurous things was also another key factor.
And Shilpa, have you seen Olive Green color? It’s something that just draws you to itself, Olive Green colored uniform with glittering stars and medals on chest. Who would not like to have all this as an officer? All these together drove me to fill the application for Selection forwarded forces officer.
SJ: What were the steps you needed to undertake to join the armed forces? What was your journey of selection like? How challenging was it?
ND: The army has their competencies, just the way any corporate organization has. I just prepared myself mentally that I want to be part of the elite class, and I worked hard for it.
The Army is not a job or career. It’s a passion. A burning desire in heart can make you crack the Selection. They have the toughest psychological tests and you are what you are to be presented. The segment of psychometric rounds reveals the truest part of you and whether you are meeting the competencies of the organization or not. The ground tests do call for physical fitness and I remember having so many blisters and the skin on my palm and fingers would peel off while undergoing these tests. It was worth it.
Then there are also tests of leadership and team building activities. So, in total after I was screened in after my IQ test, there was a Selection procedure of 5 days having all the tests I just mentioned.
SJ: The selection process is very tough. I believe you were 5 out of 540 people. That is extremely commendable. How did you feel?
ND: The feeling is inexpressible in words. Full of pride and with great sense of achievement. But haha.. it was just the beginning of Army life. I knew it had more in store for me in training and expanded responsibilities on the force.
SJ: What were the various functions you handled during your tenure in the armed forces? Can you highlight some of your achievements and narrate some experiences?
ND: Well, Army gave me a very rich and diversified experience in 14 years of my life of managing mid- to big-size teams of 100 to 120 people. I was responsible for procurement and smooth running of operations of inventory and ensuring meeting the deliverables within a time frame. I was also responsible for training of my team to keep them fit for war, so regular practice firing in ranges and physical fitness to keep them fit for war was again part of my job profile. In my second unit, I was responsible for specialized vehicles called Tatra. It is an amazing vehicle which was equipped to carry tanks and BMPs in long distances travel.
I have also got opportunity to Tenate some independent appointments as officer commanding Republic Day Transport Camp. These teams were big teams and their operational effectiveness and HR management was my responsibility. I recount some of the experience where while giving duty at night one of my sentry was attacked by some people and my jawan lost his eye in that after being hit by a danda on his eye. My direct reportee immediately informed me at night about the incident and I reached to the location and we took him to the military hospital. It was a psychologically and mentally taxing for my jawan, but the ethos of our organization always makes us stand with our team and jawans, and that’s how we ensured that all emotional and psychological support is given to him even when he joined back after returning from the hospital.
I was also nominated to lead River Rafting Expedition in River Teesta in Sikkim. This included everything right from collaborating with Army Headquarters to release funds, to making training program of the team keeping them motivated, to collaborating with media for coverage and managing the event and finally leading the expedition with my team of jawans and jcos.
I was also part of INDIAN WOMAN sky diving team and I have 21 jumps to my credit from the height of 14000 feet.
As a Process Engineer I designed many processes in alignment with the organizational goals.
I also tenated appointment of Officer Commanding of a Petroleum installation.
As a HR Leader, I always looked over the team and ensured their appraisal and training after need analysis was done timely and effectively.
SJ: How was the gender diversity ratio in the armed forces?
ND: It’s been quite some time that I have left the Force and lots of changes have happened. During my time ,we were two women who were posted in one of the unit of Jammu and Kashmir officers in the entire unit of men.
SJ: What caused the move to the corporate world? And was the transition smooth?
ND: The Army did not have permanent commission for women when I was there hence after 14 years I had to make a transition.
I had started upskilling myself 4 years prior to this transition and I picked up the best of the institutes’ to upskill myself. Being at strategic roles having done problem solving after analysis of the macro environment was part of the routine. Hence I did my strategic management from IIM L along with my army job. HR used to be one of the basic functions so to understand the dynamics of corporate I did my MBA in HR from NMIMS.
To answer whether the transition was smooth personally – yes! Professionally, I faced some judgment about my army officer background, so that took time.
SJ: Why is being financially independent important to you?
ND: Financial independence empowers women and gives them a dignified lifestyle of their own choice. They do not have to kill their small, little, or big aspirations or requirements when they are earning on their own. They do what they love, and this makes them decision makers of their own life.
SJ: You have also done a Gallup certification in coaching. Can you explain to our young women what does that entail?
ND: Thanks for asking that. It’s an international level certification which speaks about self-awareness. The exercise of self-awareness makes you deep dive in your own self and understand your innate talents which opens up your perspectives about life and modifies your way of life. You realize how can you overcome your blind spots and create a happy and content life.
I personally loved this as it has helped me too in my transition and I am very passionate about it.
SJ: Do you have any message to the members of Aspire For Her? And any message for the Foundation in general?
ND: You guys are doing a brilliant job and it amazes me the kind of efforts you are putting in to empower women. That also gives me an insight about all the great work is happening in our society. Hats off to you and thank you so much!
All I would say is that it’s important to prepare young girls as leaders so that they trust their vision and are confident to take them ahead and don’t seek external validations, and don’t get bothered or scared when leadership positions are given to them. They have so much potential.
Look at the countries least affected by the coronavirus, they are all led by women.
One person, fictional/real and dead/alive that you want to have dinner with
A book on your career field that you would recommend to or readers
Field Marshal Sam Manek Shaw
3 things on your bucket list
Travel around the world
Learn new languages
Pursue my Kathak Dance