In Apoorva Aggarwal, ZS has found its first woman office managing principal (OMP) for its India offices. Apoorva, India lead for a top pharmaceutical client and a part of ZS's global Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI) and People and Culture Team (PACT) took over as the OMP for ZS’s New Delhi office in January this year.
"We are excited about Apoorva taking charge of the New Delhi office as our first woman office managing principal in India. She's a real trailblazer. We are confident in her ability to drive more success for the organization and inspire more women to take leadership positions," shared Sanjay Joshi, ZS’s regional managing principal for Asia.
Apoorva was named a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association in 2019. She is well respected for her ZS values, focus on people development and client-centricity.
We interviewed Apoorva to learn more about her new role and her path to leadership at ZS.
Congratulations on starting as the new office managing principal (OMP) for ZS's New Delhi office! What were your first thoughts when you learned about the change in role?
I was elated and simultaneously honored to be considered for a leadership role like this one. The role of office managing principal for New Delhi, the second largest ZS office with its 2000+ members, is a big responsibility, which requires building the New Delhi team's overall strategic direction and fostering an environment where teams get better individually and collectively. Hence, my feeling was one of both excitement and anxiety to ensure that I prepare well for the role and live up to its expectations.
At the same time, I feel strongly that believing in oneself and authenticity are essential factors to continuously growing and evolving. I look forward to continuing the fantastic momentum and hoping to accentuate all the energy, creativity and collaboration to continue making New Delhi a great ZS office.
You joined ZS almost eight years ago and led projects across clients and practice areas during this time. What support structures helped you succeed and grow, and how do you plan to evolve as a leader?
I still recall the warm feeling I got when I joined ZS's New Delhi office eight years ago and the multiple opportunities I received since then to learn and grow. I’ve found that our strong culture of collaboration has been instrumental in building confidence that I can always reach out and find help. Over the years, I have been blessed with good mentors and teams who’ve helped me see possibilities. They have helped me push my boundaries and have served as a role model when interacting and empathizing with my clients and team. My teams and peers around me always energize me.
In my new role, I want to hold myself accountable to ensure that I continue to uphold the ZS values and culture for each New Delhi ZSer to experience them. Being approachable makes a huge difference, along with encouragement and appreciation when required. I can't stress enough the value of client-centricity; in any project scenario, I nudge the teams to think about how they can best plan their client interactions and to make the project experience a memorable one. It's also been my endeavor to reach out to my colleagues and share experiences via one-on-one meetings or open forums like track meetings and floor connects. I want to continue focusing on ZS's people and culture, recognizing talent, diversity and building a strong cadre of future leaders in New Delhi.
What are your thoughts on the firm's culture of fostering women in leadership and encouraging diversity?
ZS provides women, and all ZSers, with values that are focused on inclusion and equal opportunities. ZS has specialized programs for returning mothers, such as parental leave and flexible work hours. These programs have made the journey smoother for women and encouraged them to build successful careers at ZS.
ZS's Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) has also been working on several initiatives to attract and retain talented women at ZS. A few of these initiatives include:
- Supporting local teams across ZS's global offices to design professional development programs and strategic priorities essential for women.
- Playing an instrumental role in tailoring benefits to support women at ZS (improved parental leave, unparalleled flexible working benefits, wellness rooms, etc.)
- Innovative programs such as unconscious bias training and allyship programs.
Women at ZS should feel empowered to raise their hand, show interest and be ready to take on any challenge. My election as the youngest and the first woman ZSer to hold the office managing principal role in India reflects ZS's belief that diverse views create business impact, and I’m honored to be in the position to drive positive momentum for ZS in India.
How do you manage work-life balance?
For me, work and life have always been rather integrated. Being flexible, planning for the week, and not assuming that each day will be the same has helped me find balance between my work and spending time with my daughter. My advice to others is to find what works for you personally to find sustainability in your work.
Outside of ZS, my sister has been my role model and mentor for finding work-life balance. Many working women in India are the first generation to do so. When pressure rises at work, women are often told to pull back from work and prioritize their families. My sister helps me see that giving up is not the solution - work is an integral part of my life, and I should not compromise on something that I value.
As one of the pioneering women leaders for ZS in India, what message would you like to share with current and future women ZSers?
Believe in yourself, take risks and 'Choose to Challenge.' Become resilient in any challenge or cultural bias that women might face and find your path, even when the going gets tough. I firmly believe that there are many victories and learnings in this journey.