In this week’s episode, I had the absolute privilege of talking with Richa Batra, VP and General Manager of the Student Success organization at Anthology, about leading large teams, advocating for equity, confronting bias, being transparent, and modeling trust.
Richa Batra is the Vice President and General Manager of the Student Success organization at Anthology. Richa has held various roles within Student Success over the last 13 years and has 20 years’ experience in Workplace Development, Contact Center Operations, Client Experience and Education Technology. Richa oversees a team of over 1,000 front line contact center employees that double in size to support back to school with 8 million annual interactions supporting students.
Richa is passionate about the intersection of higher education, workforce development, employability and customer experience. Richa learned the “Nordstrom way” in her first job focused on customer experience and has been a focus throughout her career managing clients, teams and contact center operations.
Richa is a first generation college student and is focused on her work to drive increased access and student retention to students from underserved populations.
Richa holds a BA from the University of Maryland College Park in Communications and an MBA from the George Washington University in International Business.
LISTEN TO THE EPISODE
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE PODCAST
[03:34] Richa introduces herself
[05:18] Richa describes the team she leads at Anthology
[06:27] An explanation of Anthology
[08:16] Taking on the responsibility of leading 1,000 people
[09:29] Advocating for people you are responsible for
[12:13] Examples of indirect bias Richa faced as a mom
[14:17] Having an equitable voice if your experience is different
[15:43] The benefits of having a supportive boss and team
[17:22] Communicating your needs to people you work with
[18:48] Managing motherhood and success at work
[20:43] Outsourcing unimportant tasks to be more present
[22:23] How Eastern practices have influenced Richa’s leadership style
[23:13] Becoming successful through repetition
[23:41] Setting expectations with your team
[24:59] Communicating with a large team
[26:45] Considering diversity in the hiring and team building process
[28:24] Motivating and understanding perspectives of a diverse team
[29:56] Balancing respect for time and team building events
[32:10] Modeling trust to build trust on your team
[34:31] Handling difficult situations or conversations at work
[36:20] Managing conflict when arising from cultural or gender differences
[38:41] Giving yourself time and space to be your best self
[40:37] Mentors who have contributed to Richa’s success as a leader
[41:41] The advantages of working with an executive coach
[44:04] The daily routine that helps Richa balance her mental wellness
[46:04] The song Richa listens to when she needs a confidence boost
[46:41] One purchase <$100 that has made a difference for Richa
[47:44] The book Richa recommends we read
[49:01] The final words of inspiration or advice Richa has for us
[49:54] How to contact Richa
QUOTES FROM THE SHOW
“I think the reason why my journey changed at that point is I’m now responsible for a large amount of people who come from diverse populations and also economically, um, even hourly employee population.
And I think that was when my voice, when I became very clear in my voice, because it wasn’t about me advocating as an Indian woman in a room. It was about advocating for the people that I am now responsible for.”
“How do you still make sure that you have a voice have an equitable voice if your experience is different I think that I’ve picked up on as well over the years, and something that I’ve done to overcome that is if there’s ever been a situation where I feel like, okay, maybe, uh, this isn’t a subject matter expert. I feel like other people may have more years of experience. I’ve gone and taken a class just to get myself up to speed. And every time I’ve done that, I leave with I already knew this information. It just gives me a little bit more confidence to be able to say, I can ask those questions in the room. I’m definitely living in a time where the flexibility that is given to me just didn’t exist, didn’t exist for my mother, didn’t exist for, you know, the generation before me.”
“I feel very privileged that we have this option now. I think for, for me, it is a lot about choice. There are certain things that, yes, I’m going to get extra help on. if it allows me to work more and spend more present time with the kids. Those things I absolutely will. And they may be getting the groceries delivered, getting help with certain things. It’s worth it to me to do that. If I have more present time in the two things that I prioritize.”
“The word transparency is used a lot, but I think I, I would word it in a way that I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. And I think that comes a lot from my upbringing, my Eastern. Beliefs and that is core to who I am. I want everyone to feel like they know where they stand. It’s clear of what is expected. I will be supportive. And I think it makes me different from that perspective.”
“I think diversity of experience and thought is important. I would not want to put everyone on our team that has the same experience as me. Um, that’s not going to move us forward.”
“We all are motivated by something different. Understanding that is important. And, building these relationships remotely or keeping them, um, continue to foster them remotely is important. And, you know, I don’t think meeting one that I would ask what’s your what’s your motivation, but you start kind of picking that up of what’s important to them. How can I support you? What can you prioritize?”
“So you’re, you are absolutely going to get those situations where two peers don’t work well together. I try to model it and in those situations support and maybe ask questions to say, you know, I’m sensing something in this conversation. Let’s talk about it a little bit further. I try to, to break from anything that turns into negative, um, immediately. In those situations, I’ll even say, it seems like we probably need to take a pause on this conversation. Let’s come. Let’s come back.”
“I will do check ins with colleagues with team members, people that don’t report to me, just for that communication. I don’t want anything to fester. And that’s important. Like, I’d rather address it head on. And those are difficult conversations.”