Powered by Grit and Resilience
Torchbearer: Pallavi Agarwal. Washington, DC. Indian
Grit and resilience is what took Pallavi from asking “what is software?” – to explaining the ins and outs of Salesforce CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to her clients. She stumbled upon consulting at a time when she was unsure about the next direction in her life and turned it into an international business.
This is her journey in her own words
I grew up with very limited resources when I was in India. But I was still better off because I lived in a major city and my mom and dad worked hard to provide for us, but the majority of my family still lives in a small village. That's a lot of India in general - It’s more rural than metropolitan.
I just want to provide more resources and give back to my community because I know what it’s like to not have the resources. I'm very privileged today so I want to give back as much as possible.
“So wait, what is software?” It was like a sign from God – like there was literally a physical sign that said, "Don't know what you want? Confused about your future? Come to the consulting info session today."
I call myself an “accidental consultant.” When I graduated from college, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. That info session is the moment I was introduced to consulting as a career. What I enjoy is that it's a little like changing careers – you’re constantly learning new things, which was great, because I knew I could get bored very quickly.
I landed at a job at Accenture and I still remember my first project. They asked me to do testing on some of the software we were building for a client. I remember walking in the room and thinking, “what the fuck is software?”
I had no idea how I'd gotten this job because my majors (marketing and international business) didn’t align with my current role as an IT consultant. No one was really hiring me, besides for a sales job – Now I was testing software!
I had no idea what software was or what I was doing, but you know, that was the beauty of consulting back then. Their pitch has always been - we don't care what you learned in school because it's irrelevant to a certain degree. We're going to teach you the skills anyways - What they were looking for were soft skills. So, I started at Accenture and grew my career from there.
Cheers to Shots, Standards and Success As women, we don't negotiate well. We undersell and hurt ourselves.
The way I negotiated my salary and terms for the last company I worked for was out of this world! This particular company did Salesforce consulting, which I had never done. I interviewed with the four partners and they said, “I don't understand why you're applying if you don't know Salesforce.” I responded, “I don't need to know Salesforce, I know consulting and I know how cloud applications work. How hard can Salesforce be?” Then they invited me to an event that night – we were taking shots after shots! We were negotiating salaries over vodka shots!! I told them I need X amount. I need you to pay for my relocation. And that I couldn’t start for a while – One of the partners walked me over to the CEO and said, “This is Pallavi. We need to send her an offer. These are the terms…” They all said, yes!
So yes, I didn’t know Salesforce at that time, but what they saw in me were my transferable skills, my other expertise. That stuff was more valuable to them. Learning that particular technology would eventually happen.
Women talk themselves out of a job before they even apply. We will look at a job description, go through all the bullets of the job requirements and most women will find one or two that they don't have and not apply. For men, if they match only a few bullet points, they apply!
I got the job.
I actually didn't know what type of company I would start.
I always wanted to start my own company, I actually bought the Kander domain in 2015, even though I didn't start the company until 2018. I actually didn't know what type of company I would start but like everything in my life, things happened by accident and it just evolves from there. When I started Kander in 2018, I decided to do something that I'm really good at, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) consulting.
With Kander I really wanted to make sure it was a company that embodies what candor stands for – to be very honest, transparent and to the point. I've worked with other consulting firms, liaisons and partnerships and I've seen the frustration clients can have when they're hiring consulting firms. I wanted to be a boutique firm. I wanted to be different and more authentic. We're not here just to make money, we're really here to help you. Yes, we need to get paid. But at the same time, it's more about you than it's about us.
The Money vs. Happiness Talk Happiness and money do not tie. A lot of people think money equates happiness.
In terms of making more money, it's really about setting your goals. It's coming up with your own roadmap – the milestones that you want to reach within a journey. Then within each milestone, what are some of the requirements you need to check to get there? As you do that, you'll be able to increase your pay. For example, if your milestone is, being a partner at a consulting firm, then your roadmap is getting promoted. To get promoted you'll need to become a subject matter expert in certain things, you'll need to have industry focus and all that.
Happiness is what gets you excited to get up in the day! It’s the thing that fulfills you from an internal perspective and sometimes your career and happiness aren’t related.
A classic example would be, let’s say you’re working on Wall Street making tons of money. It's something you're good at and you might enjoy it a little bit, but that's not your happiness. Your happiness is to take that money and travel the world with your friends, or create a nonprofit or do whatever. Money and happiness are two separate things.
Tips for the Job Hunt
Be mindful of talking yourself out of a job.
Jobs take three to six months on average to get, unless you're at the graduation stage and you have access to recruiters and career fairs. Always think about what you're looking for. Not in terms of titles and things like that, but your deal breakers and the things that are non negotiable. You have to reassess your deal breakers because they change as the factors in your life change. Whatever your deal breakers are, really sit and assess that and then go into a job with an open mind.
The other thing I will say is, especially those in undergrad, take some time before your new job to reset.
I tell this to my nieces, nephews...everyone. When I got the job with Accenture, I signed my contract and I told them I wouldn't start for at least six months. It was great! I traveled, ran out of money multiple times, called mom and dad for more money – I say do it! Go broke! Enjoy that time because you’ll never get it back.
Words to the Wise Don't be afraid to take a risk. The answer is always no if you don't try.
I have a couple of final thoughts:
If you don't apply for the job, you're never going to get it. What does it hurt to apply? You're literally losing nothing. The risk that you take is actually a good gamble because if it turns into yes then, holy crap! It's a yes!
As cliche as sounds, fake it till you make it! I 100% guarantee you that everyone else in the room is faking it too. No one else knows what they're doing either.
Always stay true to yourself. Follow your gut. Everything will always work out. There have been times I have said no to opportunities because my gut just told me not to do it. And there have been times I walked away because it didn't sit right with my values.
Stay authentic. Don't ever lose yourself in the process.
~ Pallavi Agarwal
LinkedIn: Pallavi Agarwal
Enjoyed Pallavi's journey? Then let us know! Here are other inspiring moments you can enjoy.
Listen to Pallavi's Career Safari Podcast Episode HERE
Read: "The Resilent Adventurer" - I wasn't confident – I just had this sense that it was going to work out; even though I didn’t know what was next. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted but I knew what I did NOT want.