Business etiquette and managing habits workshop led by Pratap Anand
On Saturday, Pudumaipenn scholars attended a fascinating workshop on ‘business etiquette and managing habits’ by Pratap Anand.
In an office environment, how you work together taking inputs from all members of the team, how you treat your colleagues with courtesy, keep open communication, and maintain etiquette was explained through a simple game and subsequent discussions.
Through a game Pratap explained how memory, imagination, intellect and ego interact to create one’s perceptions. He also shared techniques for balancing the left and right brain to improve creativity and logic.
The girls learned about the Importance of reinforcing communications to strengthen listening and recall.
He left our scholars fired up to use their full potential, energy, and enthusiasm to achieve their aspirations.
Reading workshop led by Gita, Annadurai and Thomas
A well orchestrated book reading session was conducted on October 15th 2017 by three veterans Gita, Annadurai and Thomas for Pudumaipenn’s senior scholars. The girls came prepared for the session, having read the books ‘Kalpana Chawla – A Life’, and ‘Mary Kom – Unbreakable’ at home.
The session began with Annadurai taking them through his growing years and how reading books enhanced his career and performance both at work and in other areas of his life. He shared the four tenets of reading: *R*eflect, *E*xperience, *A*bsorb, and *D*iscover the takeaway.
Thomas took over and conducted a quiz on the two books. His meticulous preparation of the questions was well received and the students responded enthusiastically. It was lovely to see that most of them had really done a thorough reading of the books. Gita then led a discussion session to identify the key takeaways and nudge them to apply these to their own circumstances.
Reading gives you knowledge, which gives you power and a voice. Here’s hoping our scholars enjoy reading always, whether for leisure or self-improvement.
Building emotional capability for success – Interactive workshop led by Sarah Kachwalla
‘What kind of emotions do you experience in different, especially difficult situations?’ ‘What thoughts go through your head?’ ‘What action do you take?’ and finally ‘Could you have managed your thoughts/ emotions and acted differently?’ – These were some of the questions that were discussed during a workshop on preparing for success conducted by Sarah Kachwalla.
“How many drops of water can a two-rupee coin hold before it spills?” Sarah asked this question out of the blue. “Two”, “Four”, “Eight”… called out the girls. Sarah made the girls check their answers with coins and ink-fillers – and everyone was startled at how much the coins could actually hold – far more than they had imagined! A small exercise, but the girls took deeper messages from it.
With activities like these and plenty of narratives from everyday life, Sarah made the workshop interactive and interesting for the 48 Pudumai Penn scholars who attended. They learnt about positive and negative emotions, how it is perfectly normal to experience either of them, and how best to overcome negative emotions.
The session ended with a home project which all the girls unanimously agreed to put into practice – take time to identify negative emotions that influence them to act in a certain way during sticky situations, overcome these by turning them to positive thoughts/emotions and change their action plan to something more constructive.
Preethika vaults into the record books
Pudumai Penn sports scholar Preethika A, a TBAS college student, continued her ascent up the athletics ladder in 2017, winning gold in the pole vault (under 20) category at the 32nd Tamil Nadu Inter-District Junior Athletic Championships 2017, Madurai. What’s more, she set a new meet record, achieving a height of 3.01m (under 20 category). She has now been selected for the South Zone Junior Athletics Championships to be held this week in Chennai. Good luck Preethika – we are all so proud of you.
Session on Personal Excellence led by Squadron Leader Unni Nair
A song and dance about life’s mission – notes from a workshop participant
Squadron Leader Unni Nair’s session on Personal Excellence was a very participative, high energy session that the girls thoroughly enjoyed.
“Who is your role model?” “What is your aspiration in life?” Starting with these questions, the audience was taken into an introspective zone. With the support of evocative video footage, of limbless Australian wonder Nick Vujicic, of skydivers going through panic to calm and exhilaration, the audience was encouraged to challenge their perceived handicaps and limitations, to overcome their fears, to dare to have aspirations and goals in life, and to successfully chase them.
Through an effective combination of humour and chatty Tamil, connect with the audience was easily achieved. The high point of the session was without doubt the human pyramid. Divided into 6 teams, the scholars had to create human pyramids to reach the 9-foot high ceiling within a minute and hold the formation for 30 seconds. That all the 6 teams accomplished the “mission impossible” was a telling demonstration of self-belief, teamwork, interdependence and the attitude of not giving up.
Squadron Leader Unni capitalised on his histrionic and singing talents to get the scholars to shed their inhibitions and heartily participate in high energy dancing and joyful karaoke singing.
When windup was announced, the scholars begged to extend the session by one hour. Heard at the instant feedback session: “Really energizing”. “Fantastic”. “I could get over my self-consciousness”.
Self-awareness – Interactive workshop led by Ravishankar
Daniel Goleman, the renowned psychological expert, identified self-awareness as being made up of emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence. In other words, self-awareness is all about knowing your emotions, your personal strengths and weaknesses, and having a strong sense of your own worth.
People who lack self-awareness find living a truly happy and productive life difficult. Examples of this include people who stay in jobs that they find unfulfilling or make them unhappy, or in relationships in which they are not comfortable. This can be difficult to overcome, as many societies and cultures encourage us to ignore our feelings and emotions.
Mr Ravishankar led a workshop for PudumaiPenn scholars, to help our girls explore who they were and how they could leverage their strengths for success. Through a series of structured modules, he led participants to explore their likes and dislikes, relate these to their own achievements and strengths, and guided them step by step into creating visions for a successful and fulfilling career. Through kinaesthetic, visual and audio interactions, the scholars became involved in describing their behaviours and personalities, story telling and listing their own strengths.
The story telling session was particularly memorable with the fifty participants creating compelling stories as a joint effort. Participants took away self esteem worksheets to keep a note of how good they really were, to keep motivated and working towards further success.
Goal Setting – Interactive workshop led by Vidya
The battle for success is half won when one gets into the habit of setting and achieving goals, and this habit is particularly important for high-achievers like the average Pudumaipenn scholar. Vidya led the year’s second goal setting workshop on 27th August ’17 . With 48 girls attending, the three hour session covered topics such as what a goal is and why it is important to have goals, how goals should be set and written down, and what SMART, short and long-term goals are.
It was a highly interactive session and the energy in the room was palpable. Vidya asked each participant to create a short-term and long-term goal for themselves in one area of their life, a task that enthused and motivated the scholars. To ensure that the enthusiasm was sustained, a support structure has been set up. Teams were formed to monitor progress on goals and a buddy system created wherein each participant was teamed up with another.
At the end of the session, each scholar left with clear goals written down and committed to; timelines by which they planned to achieve these goals and metrics to measure success. We should all be so organised!
The power of storytelling – Interactive workshop led by Mrs Savithri Ravichandran
For over 27,000 years, since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. Research has found that when we tell stories to others that have helped us shape our thinking and way of life, we can have the same effect on them too. Stories help us learn better, and also help in the workplace. Storytelling can educate, inform, motivate and inspire colleagues at all levels. With these benefits in mind Mrs Savithri Ravichandran led Pudumaipenn scholars in an interactive workshop on storytelling on 20th August.
Covering the types of people who use stories as a means of communication, the highly interactive workshop engaged the girls by making them identify what makes stories ‘stick’ in one’s mind, detailing the key elements of a story, and other factors to make stories engaging. The most interesting part of the workshop was when girls separated into groups to create a story based on a picture. The girls listened to each other’s stories avidly and the session closed with laughs and good spirits all around.
Pudumaipenn scholars to improve English proficiency with support from The Hindu
The Standardized Test of English Proficiency (STEP) is an English language testing, training and certification program offered by The Hindu Group to improve the employability of Indian youth. STEP is a completely online program with tests and training modules to improve English reading, writing, listening and speaking. Since its inception, over 1.25 lakh individuals have taken the STEP and have benefited from its programs.
Pudumaipenn is grateful to The Hindu for offering 30 of our scholars free access to the STEP programme. The scheme has kicked off in August with the girls completing baseline tests. Students have been given the goal of moving to the next level in 3-4 months, with a mid term review with each student scheduled for October.
Note from the Managing Trustee: Third annual day celebrates the achievements of our scholars – 16th July 2017
On the 16th of July 2017, we celebrated our third birthday with over a hundred members of our extended community including girls, their families, our volunteers, sponsors, donors and other well wishers, under the auspices of Mr Suresh Sambandam, CEO of KiSSFLOW, a software company developing workplace automation solutions.
- Mr Suresh Sambandam is a wonderful role model, and inspired the girls with his honest recollections of his beginnings. He spoke from the heart about how he had to miss college due to his family circumstances. It is no surprise that his enterprise and energy have helped him build a multi-million dollar business. ‘Keep reading’, he said. I agree!
- A report detailing the progress of the Foundation and the successes of the girls was presented, and it was gratifying to see how far we have already come, even though we still have ‘miles to go before we sleep’.
- A workshop was conducted by Rajini and Ravi, bringing home through games the importance of taking control and responsibility over one’s lives.
- Many thanks to the kind and wonderful Vasanthi Ranganathan for her talk to the scholars’ parents. The Foundation is deeply in debt to her and all our other volunteers who give freely of their time and money for the welfare of India’s next generation of women.
The Foundation’s first 3 years have been spent on establishing processes, inducting volunteers and testing the concept of our focus and employability. We have grown from 8 students in 2014 to 90 students in 2017. Our first cohort of students has now entered the workforce and are beginning the next stage of their journey as useful members of society.
As for Pudumaipenn, the focus and the process are now tested and ready for acceleration. Our goal is to cover more schools and increase number of students supported. We look forward to your support to help achieve this.
Visioning for success – Interactive workshop led by Jacintha Jayachandran
‘I have a dream,’ said Martin Luther King, Jr. The power of his vision was so compelling that it catalysed some of the most far-reaching social changes in the history of America.
A study conducted by Harvard University found that long time perspective was the single most accurate predictor of upward mobility.
People are more likely to succeed and become financially independent over the long term if they take their long-term future into consideration. For instance, even though it takes longer to start generating income if one goes to college, over the long term a graduate earns many times more than someone with no qualifications.
This idea underpinned the May 7th workshop on “Visioning for success”, ably organised by Jacintha. Fun-filled and yet with compelling ideas underpinning it, the workshop started with an always-popular interactive hands-on session with the girls teaming up to design, innovate and create towers. The girls had tears in their eyes from laughing – but yet, the thoughtful looks as they left showed that the ideas had hit home.
Listening skills – Interactive workshop led by Mohan Subramaniam
Listening is so important that many top employers provide listening skills training for their employees. This is not surprising when you consider that good listening skills can lead to better customer satisfaction, greater productivity with fewer mistakes, and increased sharing of information that in turn can lead to more creative and innovative work.
Pudumaipenn scholars were privileged to attend a workshop on “Listening Skills” on the 23rd of April. The thoroughly-prepared, excellent session was conducted by Mohan, ably supported by Thomas and Prathima.
A combination of presentation, questionnaire, audio clips and finally a quiz ensured that the concepts were not only well understood but also retained to give the expected benefits. The students participated with enthusiasm, ensuring a successful and productive session.
Public speaking workshop – 9th April 2017
Learning to speak confidently and clearly to audiences large and small is part of getting ready for the workplace. On 9th April Mr Thomas Abraham led a Pudumai Penn workshop to develop this important skill. From the purpose of the speech to its content, structure and language, the session covered the different elements that play a role in making a speech impactful. It also addressed role of language, voice modulation and body language to achieve the desired impact. In a highly interactive and engaging workshop, participants spoke and took part in peer assessment, incorporating their new learnings as they went along.
Stop being busy, start being productive – Interactive workshop led by Vidya Ragu
Today’s world and lifestyles have led to an explosion of ‘busyness’ – we all often get to the end of the day and think, “I was busy all day, but what did I accomplish?”
To equip our scholars with the tools to manage the demands on their time, on the 19th of February and 12th of March Vidya conducted a workshop on “how to stop being busy, and become more productive and effective”. Vidya gave our scholars insights on time, task and stress management in her own inimitable style, managing to deliver a session that was both inspiring and practical. Getting all the answers from the students themselves, she ensured the messages hit home and the girls took ownership of them.
The thoughtful looks and gleams in the girls’ eyes as they filed out was testament to the effectiveness of the session and we’re certain the ‘buddy system’ will soon be initiated!
Goal Setting – Interactive workshop led by Rajini Sriraman
Having goals for things we want to do and working towards them is an important part of being human. The path towards our goals may not always run smoothly or be easy, but having goals, whether big or small, gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, points us in the direction we want to go and gets us interested and engaged.
On the 26th of February, Rajini conducted a workshop for our scholars on “Setting goals for success & happiness”. Using techniques from the highest levels of corporate learning, she led the girls through a number of exercises on how to set life goals, measure progress against them and know when you have achieved them.
A particularly important session for an ambitious high-achiever like the average Pudumaipenn scholar, the session equipped the girls with the tools to set goals that would yield both success and well-being.
The Pudumaipenn library opens its doors
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges
Last week the Pudumaipenn Foundation was delighted to launch its library, stocked with books kindly donated by generous volunteers. We would like to thank Geetha Narayan in particular for her overwhelming kindness. Our fledgling library is now stocked with beloved classics that our girls were not privileged to read in their high-school years, from Pride and Prejudice to Alice in Wonderland. We hope that the library will kindle a lifelong love of reading among our girls, and are confident that the books will be well read and widely borrowed.
External assessment: 22nd January, 2017
Proficiency in written and spoken English is a prerequisite to success in the corporate world in India. In order to improve our scholars’ command over the language we offer regular workshops, mentorship and classroom sessions. To benchmark progress, recognise achievement and identify areas of improvement we conduct a half-day English assessment every six months.
Our most recent English evaluation was held on 22nd January 2017 and comprised oral and written components. After initial hesitation and nerves, all the girls spoke fluently and confidently, impressing the assessors with the progress they had made over the past six months.