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From Engineering to Building Inclusive Cultures: A Conversation with Gayathri Shukla

Are you considering a career transition but feeling uncertain about where to start? Gayathri Shukla’s inspiring journey from engineering to culture and leadership strategy serves as a remarkable example of how one can pivot into a meaningful and impactful career. In this interview, Gayathri shares her story, motivations, and the insights she’s gained from this transformation.

A Journey from Engineering to Culture and Leadership Strategy

Gayathri’s journey began in the male-dominated field of engineering, where she often found herself as the only woman, and even more so, a woman of color. This environment challenged her to navigate biases and stereotypes. As she moved into leadership roles, she realized the profound impact of culture and leadership on team dynamics. Understanding the importance of creating inclusive team environments, she pursued an MBA with a focus on inclusive leadership.

Her MBA journey deepened her passion for inclusive leadership and transformation. She recognized that she could have a more significant impact by working from the outside, and that’s when her transformation truly began.

A pivotal moment in her journey was her certification in a storytelling method called guided autobiography. Initially hesitant due to her engineering background, she discovered the transformative power of storytelling. It allowed her to bring people together, irrespective of their differences, and ignited a passion for this work.

Bridging Engineering and the Building of Inclusive Cultures

Gayathri’s engineering background equipped her with structured thinking skills, which she found invaluable in her current role. The ability to measure change, create systems, and design policies has allowed her to make a difference in creating inclusive cultures. However, she also emphasizes the importance of creativity, intuition, and empathy to balance structured thinking and storytelling.

Constant Learning and Development

In a rapidly changing world, Gayathri stresses the significance of continuous learning, particularly in equity, diversity, and inclusion. She’s pursued various training programs in indigenous awareness, gender-based analysis, anti-racism, and other areas relevant to her work.

A Day in the Life

Gayathri’s typical day involves client work, such as designing storytelling events, conducting research, and running workshops. She also dedicates time to business and strategic aspects of her work. What she loves most about her job is the people side of it, getting to know individuals and helping them share their stories. The transformative power of storytelling in building connections and fostering understanding is at the core of her work.

The Name “Campfire Kinship”

The name “Campfire Kinship” is symbolic, representing the idea of people coming together to share stories and create a sense of belonging. Gathering around a campfire to share stories has been a fundamental part of human history, and Gayathri’s work seeks to bring people together in a similar way.

Navigating Divisive Issues in a Connected World

In today’s world filled with divisive issues, Gayathri emphasizes the importance of giving people space to process their emotions. She encourages kindness and psychological safety, allowing individuals to work through their emotions and make sense of complex situations. Her work centers around shared humanity and building connections.

The Future of Campfire Kinship

Looking ahead, Gayathri envisions Campfire Kinship continuing its mission of shaping inclusive cultures and promoting storytelling as a tool for building connections and fostering understanding. She plans to expand her impact and make the world a more inclusive and compassionate place through the power of stories.

Advice for Career Transition

For those considering a transition into roles related to culture and leadership, Gayathri’s advice is to trust your skills and intuition. Embrace the balance between structured thinking and creativity. Stay open to lifelong learning and development, ensuring that you can adapt to a changing world.

Gayathri Shukla’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of following your passion and making a meaningful impact. Her work at Campfire Kinship serves as an inspiration for anyone considering a career transition in an ever-evolving world.

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Gayathri Shukla is the Founder of Campfire Kinship Storytelling Inc., offering immersive training and strategic advisory services to drive inclusion and diversity goals for teams.

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