Through this blog I have tried to share revealing anecdotes about fascinating people I meet. Two years ago I met Poushali Chatterjee, Principal Learning Designer in Tata Interactive Systems. She appeared a young and vibrant business woman who sat behind glass doors in a room with walls adorned with accolades, medals and rewards. I instantly knew how good she was at her work. She was dressed with an air of sophistication, elegance and class. These two years, I have known her only as a learning specialist, a mentor, and a perfectionist at work. But last Friday, I discovered a completely different aspect of her personality. Chatting over samosas and sandesh in the office cafeteria, Poushali emerged as a vivacious, young-at-heart, college-going kid who is extremely thrilled about everything around her. She shared amazing stories of her escapades and how she “painted-the-town-red” during her early days in TIS. Is it the same Poushali I have known? Unable to control my curiosity, I dived into Google to know more about her.
Here are a few excerpts I came across:
Thissur, March 2, 2011-The Hindu
“Dancer Poushali Chatterjee has called upon the youth to take an interest in learning Manipuri dance.”
“Her creativity is unending. Be it dance or advertising Poushali Chatterjee is always at her creative best with unique innovations.”
I also found her lecturing on “Adopting social and collaborative learning” on Youtube.
Something that is glaringly evident when you interact with Poushali is that she is extremely happy with herself and her abilities. She appreciates who she is as an individual and embraces her feminity. Poushali oozes with confidence, is always optimistic, loves life and flirts with risk. Poushali exudes joie de vivre.
Poushali at work…
Poushali is an instructional designer, a manager, a Tata Business Excellence Model assessor. She has won several International Awards in E-learning. She is one of the leading solution designers, a go-to person for complex solutions, designing courses across several verticals. In 2010, Poushali received the Outstanding Paper award for her paper ‘Entertainment, Engagement and Education in ELearning’ from Training Journal, Emerald Publishing Group, UK. She is also involved in the Business Excellence program of the Tata Group – she is a senior assessor in the Tata Business Excellence Model assessment.
Poushali the Dancer…
Daughter of renowned vocalist Smt Atashi Chatterjee, Poushali Chatterjee began her training in Manipuri Dance from the age of 8. Her dance academy and performing troupe Nandanik presents dance performances in India and abroad. It aims to impart training in all aspects of Manipuri Dancing.
Some excerpts from the conversation I had with her:
Who is Poushali..?
“An Eternal Optimist!”
What is she like…?
“Extrovert from outside, introvert from inside, sometimes hard on the outside but usually soft on the inside.”
“A happy peaceful life where I’m at peace with my conscience and have no regrets.”
What defines her?
“Zest for life, passion for work and perfection, belief in an individual’s ability to constantly improve oneself.”
Childhood and growing up years…
“I lost my father when I was 8 and was brought up by my mother who’s a vocalist and a very happy-go-lucky person. I was a responsible child and quite early I discovered my passion for dance when my Guruji came to live in the ground floor flat of our house. My childhood has essentially been a lot of dancing, a bit of studying, lot of reading and playing ‘Being Teacher’.”
School/college days, marriage and pre-marital thoughts:
“School days were the best; that’s where I made friends for life and also discovered the subject I wanted to pursue – English literature. We had some fantastic English teachers who influenced my decision to take up English. It was also influenced by the fact that I wanted to be a dancer first and figured that going for the sciences (where I did get good marks) will not leave me enough time to pursue dancing. College was fun but also hard work as I had to live up to the expectations of one of the most respected group of English professors in India – the faculty of Presidency College and then Jadavpur University. Some enduring memories are the dark and serious Presidency library (where I felt so out of place), the canteen ‘addas’, the sessions where we tried to talk to people from the other world sitting in the ancient Presidency premises, practicing Simon & Garfunkel songs endless times for the JU reunion and then both dancing and singing at the reunion show!”
Poushali won a scholarship for dance at the age of 12. She won gold in National Youth Festival in 1995 for Manipuri Dance, Kal Ke Kalakar award from Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai. She has presented numerous Manipuri Dance performances in India and abroad including Khajuraho Festival, Konark Festival, Nishagandhi Festival, Ganga Festival etc. She has also performed in countries like US, Canada, Mexico, Indonesia and Singapore.
This passionate dancer also secured the first place in English in Higher Secondary and then secured the first position in English Honors in Calcutta University. She won the Outstanding Paper Award given by Emerald Group of Publishers, UK for her first whitepaper on ELearning. She says:
“From a literature background becoming a Team Leader in Tata Business Excellence Model, assessing Tata companies for business excellence, is sure an achievement.”
Memorable moments or incidents:
The list is long; training with her Guru, performing at Khajuraho and abroad, presenting her first contemporary choreography in 1993, traveling with her troupe, her students receiving scholarships from Govt. of India, watching sunrise alone at Tinchuley (North Bengal), and the birth of her daughter and every moment spent with her are some of the incidents she could readily enumerate.
Personal ups and downs:
“I lost my father at a young age. I used to be very shy as a child but I overcame that and now most people feel I’m very confident. I am a single mom. By my own choice I did not pursue the dream of becoming a dancer but I feel that I’ve got the best of both worlds – dance remains a passion and not a profession, and I haven’t lost my love for it (which may have happened if I had made it my profession).”
“I’ve also just passed the first level of Elementary French from Alliiance Francaise du Bengale and pursuing the second level; and trying to raise my teenage daughter to become a good human being!”
What do you see yourself as in the coming years?
“Hopefully a happy and content person, respected in the profession I’m in and loved by my family and friends.”
Message for the readers of the blogazine:
“Never be content with being good, then you’ll never be great. But don’t beat yourself up for not living up to your expectations, as long as you put in your 200%.”
“The great thing about being a woman is that it’s easy to recognize greatness. Greatness, not defined by medals, money and success, but something much beyond- the greatness of spirit.
As legions of women step out every day, fighting the odds at home and outside, we look for that kindred soul to walk with us along the way – as a friend, mentor and guide. To me, and many others, Poushali has been all three. Like the scores of others, I salute her spirit! ”- Sarbani Mukherjee, Principal Learning designer, Tata Interactive Systems
“Poushali is poised, creative, assertive, honest, and downright amazing to work with (with a generous dose of a cool sense of humor). Her sense of design and eLearning is top notch, which I am still in the process of absorbing as much as possible. I consider myself a very lucky girl to be able to work with her so closely. She is my walk-to person for everything that goes right and wrong. The best part about working with her is the freedom she gives us and I try my best to not misuse it.”- Debolina Sengupta, Lead Instructional Writer, Tata Interactive Systems
Poushali’s passion for life is what propels her forward each day, and gives her the strength to pursue all that inspires her. Salutes to the spirit of this incredible woman.
Article by: Sulakshana Chatterjee