In Conversation With
Ms India Asia
Miss India Seattle
Sr. Product Manager, Facebook
Struggle keeps the person grounded, focused and helps in developing resilience.
You are highly educated and have a number of educational degrees. Our readers would like to know about your educational achievements?
I have a Masters degree from World’s number 1 university – University of California at Berkeley (also known as UC Berkeley). I was awarded a Certificate of Honor for an app that I built at UC Berkeley. The concept was around running commerce on Whatsapp.
My Bachelors degree was in Electronics and Telecommunication engineering from University of Mumbai and I achieved a Distinction in that 4 year program.
I have always been a top ranker in education during my school years in my childhood. I was also very active in extra-curriculars like debates, elocution, recitation, story-telling, sports and quizzes and have represented my school in inter-school competitions and have 150+ certificates.
You are an IT Professional. Please tell us your success story after initial education to be a part of multinational companies?
After I completed my degree in engineering, I was hired by top multi-national company Infosys in India as a Software Engineer. As part of this job, I worked for top USA clients like Proctor and Gamble and AT&T developing software based applications for them for over 3 years.
After I completed my Masters degree, I joined Microsoft as a Product Manager where I worked for 3 years, then moved to eBay as a Sr Product Manager and currently I work at Facebook (also known as Meta now) as a Sr Product Manager.
What is the importance of the struggle period in your life?
I have always loved the struggle that comes along with preparing to achieve challenging goals. I have many times deliberately chosen goals that seem impossible, just to go through the struggle without fearing failure. I believe one learns through experiences that one goes through and harder the experience, more is the learning. Struggle keeps the person grounded, focused and helps in developing resilience. Resilience is a muscle that needs to be built and is a key quality that successful people have
What were the challenges and experiences for winning the prestigious international title of Ms India Asia?
I took the opportunity of participating in the pageant with the sole purpose of exploring a different experience and thus exploring a different side of my personality. In a pageant, one represents oneself as they are. Pageants are very real and it is very hard to hide your true personality. In a way, the core preparation has already been done when one participates in a pageant as they are the person that they are today and cannot change it. All the struggles and experiences that one has had over the course of their lifetime, they all shape the personality of the individual and it shows in the pageant.
Some of the challenges I faced during the preparation of the pageant, are around maintaining a strict discipline around my food habits and exercise schedule as I wanted to be my fittest self. I had to prepare a performance piece for my talent round and I chose to dance as I have been a dancer all my life. But I just didn’t want to dance for the heck of it, I spun a whole story through my dance around how society forces a girl to marry when she is of a certain age while this is a decision that should be taken by the individual solely and there is no “right” age for a girl to marry. The exhilaration of performing on stage (something that I have always loved since the age of 3) is an experience that I always cherish.
What are your priorities for your social work in India as Ms India Asia?
I have been an active ambassador of NGOs like CRY and Sukarya. I love giving my time and effort towards causes like girl education, child hunger etc and I hope to continue that in the years to come. With the recent unfortunate gun violence events that targeted school-going children, I resolve to help in any way I can to curb such events.
How do you manage your professional work and your passion for fashion and lifestyle?
I believe where there is a will, there is a way. Ultimately, it boils down to one’s passions and the degree to which they are willing to put an effort to achieve their goals. I have always been hard-working and resilient towards my goals. I have gotten good at prioritization and time management, which allow me to pursue what I want.
Ofcors it’s not easy to do but I love to hustle. At any given time, if I dont have 3-4 projects going on (work+personal passions), I don’t consider my time being well-spent. Life is short and I want to maximize that time to the best of my capabilities.
What is your message to upcoming beauty talents from India who want to make a career in this field ?
Just be yourself and don’t fear failure. Trying to be the best version of yourself will be your sincere effort towards achieving your goals.
Your name is internationally renowned in the field of fashion and lifestyle. In this field there is a lot of criticism too, how do you accept this?
I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What we think or say about another individual is a big reflection on ourselves first. I entertain critical and constructive feedback as I always want to grow and better myself but if the feedback or actions are destructive and malicious, I am wise enough to ignore it. I pay a lot of attention to the company that I keep and the people that I surround myself with.
Who is your favorite costume designer and why?
I have a list of designers whom I absolutely adore. It is very hard to pick one. I got a chance to walk the ramp for ace Indian designer Neeta Lulla who happens to be on my list. Currently, I am loving the fashion sense of the Lebanese designer Sadek Majed.
Who inspired you most in your life?
All people who are driven, motivated, kind and have principles and morals in life inspire me – especially those who do not give up their morals when life becomes tough or for their own selfish reasons. It’s very good to be driven and ambitious in life but more important is how you treat others while being so.
What lessons did Corona give to the world for health awareness. What is the importance of mental health in the present healthcare scenario?
Mental health is super important and I fail to understand why there is such a huge stigma attached to seeking help for mental health. It is very unfortunate and heart-breaking that mental health issues are not taken seriously in societies in countries like India and this needs to change now.
You are always energetic and fit, what is the reason behind it?
It all depends on what one feels internally, that translates into actions on the outside. Mindset is the biggest game changer and having the right or wrong mindset can make or break a person. Feeling energetic and fit in the mind first automatically translates into feeling the same in the body. It is easier said than done and I am not energetic and fit on all days but I try to be. I try to practice the right mindset and build resiliency in myself so that I can be my best every day – I try.
What are your targets in life?
This is a very loaded question but my uber target in life is to not stop being an explorer. I want to keep exploring life with my main mantra of “never fear failure”. My goal in life is to be my best physical, emotional, and spiritual self.
In your professional and fashion career, who supported you the most, men or women?
Both men and women have equally supported me starting in my family and expanding into my friends and acquaintances.
Astika, an introvert or extrovert by nature?
I believe I am an ambivert but mostly an extrovert. I usually dont have any qualms talking to strangers, seeking out opportunities and getting things done. In parties and gatherings, I love to mingle with people from different walks of life and understand their perspectives.
Which is your favorite color and why?
My favorite color is black – you will find a lot of black in my wardrobe. I think Black dresses are classy, black accessories go with everything and Black in general stands out.
Most professionals from various fields are shifting their careers into different companies for more money. What is the importance of money in your life?
Money is important in life for comfort but is not a measure of happiness. Happiness and satisfaction are states of the mind, heart and soul that can’t be bought by just money.
I tend to spend money towards experiences that bring me joy. But I also work very hard to earn my money. I also make sure I don’t compromise my values and principles while doing so.