Overcoming challenges and rising to Global leadership roles
Born and raised in a farming family in a rural Indian village, Dali Sanghera moved to the UK aged seven, alongside her three elder brothers. They faced the challenge of not only learning a new language but also adapting to a new culture. Southeast Asian immigrants were not always welcomed nor well perceived, and she and her family had to earn the right to stay. Those early years meant living life in a perpetual start-up mode.
Having struggled to reach the UK and with no legal rights, her father worked in factories while her mother did manual labour jobs. Dali learnt change management skills the hard way by frequently moving schools as her father, although illiterate, was commercially savvy enough to flip real estate regularly. She had to secretly apply for university when pursuing higher education, as her father was initially against it. Still, her mother insisted that Dali should be allowed to attend. Her mother had a tough time growing up in India’s rural Punjab. She had no access to education but would be required to drop the daily tiffin at her brother’s school. Her mother would secretly observe the school lessons and copy the letters using twigs on the mud floor before quickly erasing them to avoid punishment for seeking to learn.
An entrepreneurial approach to life and career was always Dali Sanghera’s vision, but witnessing many failed businesses within the community prompted her to pursue the corporate route. Being commercially minded, she wanted to work in finance and completed her CIMA qualification. “My drive ensured that I did not waste any opportunity. I continually sought expansion in my roles, leading to several fast promotions”. As one of the first few diverse candidates in Accenture’s UK Office, Dali made a point to continually advocate for change and has been encouraged by commitment and progress to date. Knowing that more is still being done.
Her business strategy focuses on keeping herself relevant and adapting to change whilst understanding her unique contribution. Knowing one’s strengths is a differentiating factor for success. She encourages others to use tools such as #Gallupstrenghtfinder to become aware of their innate skills. She believes “everyone has potential, and a good leader or coach will help you access that potential”. Dali became qualified as a Neuro-Linguistic Programming coach in Singapore pre-pandemic, which has served her well when coaching and mentoring others.
Being an innovative thinker, she can perceive connections between complex areas that may not be immediately apparent. This divergent thinking pattern stems from her ADHD, which she has had to acknowledge and turn to her advantage in the corporate world.
Facing challenges at various stages of life was not new for Dali. Still, the most significant challenge in her personal life was the struggle to have children. She persevered through many IVF treatments until the Universe blessed her husband and her with three healthy children. Professionally, her battle has been around the feelings associated with Imposter Syndrome. The journey for self-development never ends, but she advises to “not lose sight of where you come from while having the courage to shape where you want to go”. These words keep her grounded whilst following her ambition for continuous growth.
Dali recently took on the Lead role of Accenture’s Growth Market Sustainable Leadership and Organisation Practice. Her role focuses on embedding long-term sustainability practices and helping clients become more responsible and sustainable. She is acutely aware that actions have a ripple effect and that leaders must balance multiple stakeholder interests to ensure that business is conducted with the utmost integrity. This fits with her personal mantra, “To lead is to serve”, since she believes we are simply custodians for future generations.
She views her success as a reflection of the choices made and the help from people in her life, especially her husband. He has supported her career through multiple relocations, despite facing cultural misconceptions around gender roles. The Passion that drives Dali is removing barriers for less privileged minorities. Her personal journey fuels this Passion as she came from a disadvantaged situation and knows what it takes to rise from that. Her motto of “Be who you needed when you were growing up” fosters her sense of stewardship by helping others who face similar challenges.
Taking on advisory roles with NGOs that empower minorities and directly sponsoring colleges for girls in Tamil Nadu and schools in Punjab gives Dali Sanghera hope for a positive change.
For every girl sponsored, the charity @IndianFutures will plant a tree within the village.
Dali is a living example of being the change we want to see in the world!