Bhavana Bartholf – Trust Your Authentic Self

February 14, 2022
Up Your Creative Genius
Up Your Creative Genius
Bhavana Bartholf - Trust Your Authentic Self
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Show Notes

Bhavana Bartholf is an award-winning transformational leader and sought-after expert in the field  of providing vision and accelerating Digital Transformation for corporations across industries  worldwide. Throughout her career, she has served as a transformational leader, innovative  technologist, STEM advocate, and ally for women and racial/ethnical minorities (REM). She has a  proven track record for growing female/REM workforce while promoting diversity and inclusion and is dedicated to driving systemic systems to create inclusive work environments. 

In 2022, Bhavana was recognized by the Charlotte Business Journal 2022 Women in Business  Achievement Award 25 outstanding Women. In 2021, Bhavana was recognized by the National  Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Women in Technology (2021) and has been named one of  the 2021 “Power 50” Women in Leadership. She was named one of the 2021 Women Worth  Watching in Diversity Journal.  

Today, Bhavana is responsible for driving technical sales strategy across our solution areas driving  digital transformation for Fortune 500 companies. Prior to this role she led digital transformation  for Microsoft USA and has a diverse career across our customer success, sales, marketing,  consulting and support businesses.  

Bhavana currently serves as a board director for WEX Inc and NC State College of Engineering  foundation. She has served for six years on the board of The Gift of Adoption, a non-profit that  provides adoption assistance through grants. Today, she continues to support her passion for  women on boards and mentoring women at all levels of Technology—including sponsoring the  Microsoft Women’s ERG Charlotte Chapter. Over the years, Bhavana has played an active role in  recommending more than 30+ women in her network for Board Seats across the US.  

Bhavana earned her Master’s degree in Engineering from North Carolina State University, as well  as her Bachelor of Science in Math, Physics and Manufacturing Engineering (triple major) from  India. Today, she is a director on the Board of NC State College of Engineering. 

She and her husband, Matt Bartholf, reside in Charlotte, North Carolina, with their three children.

“But I think that push up, be curious and ask when someone says no, figure out why they believe you can’t do it, and then educate them.”

“Just never feel like you have to hide a component of yourself, trying to be like somebody else, because what’s unique about you is what makes you great.”

Timestamp

1:37 The story of Bhavana Bartholf

6:08 Moving to the US and her journey in Microsoft

13:25 How Bhavana manage stressful situations

19:13 Bhavana shares her duties on the boards 

23:26 Changes that are moving in the right directions 

24:12 Bhavana’s life’s vision 

26:41 Tips on pivoting in life and getting through challenges

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SPEAKERS

Bhavana Bartholf, Patti Dobrowolski

Patti Dobrowolski  00:03

Hello superstars. Welcome to the Up Your Creative Genius podcast, where you will gain insight and tips to stomp on the accelerator and blast off to transform your business and your life. I’m your host, Patti Dobrowolski. And if this is your first time tuning in, then strap in because this is serious rocket fuel. Each week, I interview fellow creative geniuses to help you learn how easy it is to Up Your Creative Genius in any part of your life. Hey, everybody, it’s Patti Dobrowolski. And here we are with Bhavana Bartholf, the transformational leader and Chief Digital Officer of the commercial areas solution for Microsoft. I mean, I’m sure I didn’t get that quite right, in terms of what it is that you do, but you build and land the sales strategy for $101 billion across the globe. So I am so excited to have you here. Because you’re just incredible. I downloaded the bio, and I was reading it to myself. And this year alone, you received these awards from the Charlotte Business Journal, you know, the top 25 women in business, you are on the National Diversity Council, you’ve been doing so much as a stem advocate and advocate for women and people of colour. I just am so in awe of you. So welcome to the podcast.

Bhavana Bartholf  01:32

Thanks, Patti, excited to be here. And I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to connect with you as well, again.

Patti Dobrowolski  01:37

I know I know. Well, it’s really amazing to me, that you are in such an incredible position, and you’re so dang smart. I think this is part of it that I loved. When I read through everything that you’ve done, you really embodied the idea of leader because to me, a leader is all about community and serving your community that once you serve other people and lift them up, which is what you’re known for, then everything happens all doors open. But I’m sure it wasn’t easy. You coming into where you are. So tell our listeners about you tell us your story. How did you get here.

Bhavana Bartholf  02:18

Some of it, I will say a lot of it is how I was brought up. So I actually grew up in India, and actually grew up with my grandparents, my parents lived in different countries where it wasn’t the greatest place for girls to grow up. And so yes, I had the opportunity to spend time with my grandparents. And I will say the biggest piece for me kind of what it was instilled in me, growing up was my grandfather came from nothing was a self made man. And so he always taught us that don’t get comfortable with what you have, it can get taken away from you at any point in time. And so constantly make sure that you are earning your place that you show people respect regardless of you know, their background, where they come from. In an India, some of it also was based on how society is based on your stature from, you know, an economical standpoint, people are treated differently. And one of his biggest advices to us was that you treat everyone with respect. And I know we hear that common phrase of treat people the way you want to be treated. But he really emphasised the importance of people feel, you know, we need to make sure people feel valued. People are seen, and they’re heard, regardless of, you know, age, colour, and you know, background. And so I think that part, I think started for me really young, growing up in India, and then the other big piece is also, you know, as a woman growing up in India, I think one of his biggest things is don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. So choose.

Patti Dobrowolski  03:41

Yes.

Bhavana Bartholf  03:42

And make your own decisions. But to do that, you’ve got to be curious. And you’ve got to take the time to understand what it is if you make a choice and then own your choice, right?

Patti Dobrowolski  03:50

Yes. And so what did that look like for you growing up? I mean, how was that experience for you to stand up for yourself and make your own choices? Did you get pushback from people? Were people always trying to give you advice and tell you you should do whatever right, get married have children that was your role? Right? So what an overachiever like you, what did that look like?

Bhavana Bartholf  04:14

Well, I will say for some of it is when you know it’s kind of one of those things when you have people in your corner they’re standing up for you. I think it makes it a little bit easier to go against the grain when people either challenge you know, you and your thinking people tell you you can’t do something because you hear that a lot. But that’s not what we do. Because I just something as simple as when I was learning to drive. I crashed into a gate now I remember my mom coming in and saying tell me like you can’t drive again. Like you know, you will watch for a while and my grandfather was like alright, so you want her to swim but she can’t get to the water. Is that what you’re actually telling her right I guess to constantly have like being in an environment and I know my mom was like, of course I wasn’t gonna just keep it away but it was kind of one of those like, you’ve got to face the consequences. But I think that push up be curious and ask when someone says no, figure out why they believe you can’t do it, and then educate them, right? Like there’s an awareness component break it down, because maybe you can see that vision and state or big picture, but they can’t. So you’ve got to help them get there. Because sometimes a lot of it comes from people’s past experience of what they believe the system is set up for. And so a lot of it sometimes comes even when people push back, it comes from a good place right there.

Patti Dobrowolski  05:28

Yes. They want to protect you. They want to protect it most of the time, right?

Bhavana Bartholf  05:33

I think that was great for me in that context. I mean, I even did for my undergrad, I had done manufacturing in India, not a lot of women do it.

Patti Dobrowolski  05:42

Love that. I love that.

Bhavana Bartholf  05:44

Like, prove myself, right, like, which is like,

Patti Dobrowolski  05:47

Well, why not just go up against the biggest, the biggest beast of all, manufacturing? Right,

Bhavana Bartholf  05:53

It was a great expensive, so I will say I’m proud of the fact that I could actually weld, you know, I can build stuff, I could do things. I mean, it was never gonna try to do stuff at home. But it’s great to be able to prove yourself and to prove to others that women can do a lot.

Patti Dobrowolski  06:08

Yeah, yeah. And they can. So you finish your undergrad in India? And then you came over to the US? And then how did you get here? What made you come to the US? And what did you end up doing there? Did you just figure you wanted to go and continue your education there?

Bhavana Bartholf  06:24

Yes. When I came to the US, I mean, at the time, I think a lot of folks, at least in my generation were either, you know, I wasn’t an Indian, I knew just given to how we were raised and grown up. And, you know, we lived in a house also, when my grandfather opened it up to a lot of people. So we had people from all over the world that would stop by and visit people i Whether I knew them or didn’t know them, it didn’t matter. Like they always would come by and some of it was it was a philosopher that people would go see. And so my grandfather kept his doors open as people travelled through, right. And a big part of that.

Patti Dobrowolski  06:55

I love that.

Bhavana Bartholf  06:56

And it was one of those where you learned a lot, right, like, so you were exposed to so much. So young. And I think I always knew it was, you know, if I was going to do something, I wanted to be able to get out and go do it.

Patti Dobrowolski  07:06

Yes, yes.

Bhavana Bartholf  07:08

I did come to the US to do my master’s. And I did do manufacturing engineering. And I remember when Microsoft reached out, my original reaction was like, I didn’t apply at Microsoft, because I didn’t like that background. And I remember doing the initial call, and you know, it’s one of those like, you think, Oh, my God, am I being punked? Or is this somebody really contact, you know, company? And it was a great conversation. And the thing that I realised at that point, and what was the I think the initial person I talked to the recruiter, you know, asked me a bunch of questions very hypothetically, to, you know, I can’t even remember what they were. But one of the things she said was, what would make you not consider a role at the company? And I said, if you’re gonna stick me in front of a computer, and yeah, what all day and not talk to people, I don’t think this is my job. And they still move forward, right? Like, and I hated the fact that they did that. And even when I did my actual interview, to kind of join the company out of college, make somebody came in the first person and asked me about some coding, you know, process and I was like, that’s not on my resume. And that was a mistake made. But I’m happy. And what I loved about the company did was they focused on at the time, they still do, but we have a lot more, but they focus on potential and passion. And they changed the whole day. And I was one of the few folks that they told me at the end of that day that I got the job. And that was a phenomenal experience. The big like, I have none of the background that these people actually initially were looking.  Yes.  Would still believed that I was you know, I was someone worth investing in. Right?

Patti Dobrowolski  08:47

So really now you’re the chief digital officer. So you must have done something around that to be able to transition into such a big role over time. So how did that trajectory What did that look like?

Bhavana Bartholf  09:01

So I think for me, I think the thing that I learnt early on, I think this goes back to kind of how I was raised.

Patti Dobrowolski  09:07

Yes.

Bhavana Bartholf  09:08

I was willing to take on either that project or that initiative that nobody else wanted to do. And I kind of my approach has always been if it’s that bad, it can only get better but I think a lot of people look at it as if it’s bad.

Patti Dobrowolski  09:25

Bad, it’s really broken. It’s really don’t even go there right? Yeah, that bad Give it to me bring it on. There’s no down there’s no further down to go so read only go up. So it’s only gonna make the whole thing better. I love that. I love that.

Bhavana Bartholf  09:43

And so early on, I was kind of in that thing of your give me the things that nobody wants to do. And I think even like my first day on the job, officially, I had, you know a person you know, who had called Microsoft and was going through a tough time personally versus I needed to do it than that. I became a call that was recorded, it was create a lot more chaos than it should have. But the biggest thing I learned was that as long as I could create a sense of human connection, and really listen to people, and then you get creative in how you solve for things, I think things can work well. And so that’s been something I’ve been able to do it I’ve had the opportunity, and I’m truly grateful for right where I’ve been part of very different organisations, different teams, I’ve gotten reordered and moved around a lot, but a lot of it is someone believed that I’m capable of figuring it out. So I’ve gone into a lot of jobs and functions where I personally think I don’t have any background. But to do something that you said earlier, what’s important is, but I’m surrounded by extremely smart people. And, you know, capitalising and learning from those resources to collectively figure out how do we win together is one I think, is kind of, you know, empowering for everyone in the process. And two, it’s surprising how quickly you can drive success when everyone feels like they’re part of that process.

Patti Dobrowolski  11:08

Well, and here’s the common theme. So already, I mean, you keep saying listening, listening, you know, if you can listen to people and be curious, you can take yourself a lot farther, you know, and tell me, though, what are the commercial solutions areas? What does that mean? So that people that are listening, that are not part of Microsoft and big empire that it is, you know, that they know, what does it look like day to day, what you actually do?

Bhavana Bartholf  11:35

The commercial solution areas is kind of our corporate function that is responsible for building and developing the technical sales strategy for globally across.

Patti Dobrowolski  11:45

Okay, fantastic. All right. So that’s what you’re really doing is building the sales strategy for 101 billion, let’s just put it there. That’s right, I saw and in your LinkedIn profile, it says, who you report to in there. So you’re not claiming that you’re responsible for all of that? No, no, we get that we get that. But that is like a huge thing to be able to see so far into the future, in terms of where the commercial enterprise is going, and how you can expand it and continue to meet and be successful in that commercial space.

Bhavana Bartholf  12:23

Yeah, and I think the biggest thing for us and I think this, everyone’s dealing with this, you know, not just at Microsoft, but across different companies, right? Like, the world is changing faster than we can keep up with it. I think the pandemic obviously taught us the importance of being agile, thinking about how can you scale and be smart about how you actually do business? And then how can you be ready for the unknown? Right, and I think that’s something that day in and day out, that’s part of what this broader organisation and team at corporate is kind of set up to do is how do you cater and build the right strategy that helps, you know, our people, as sellers in the field, you know, enable and empower their own customers at the rate at across the globe and across different industries and markets. And so it’s a fascinating and fun place to be of, you know, I haven’t been in the role. It’s been a little bit, it’ll be close to a year that I’m in that role. But what I love about it is that you’re in a place that’s moving at a pace that’s fascinating and keep up and I think those components make the job highly interesting.

Patti Dobrowolski  13:25

Yeah, as you really have to be on your feet. I mean, you can’t just sit and think that well, and this is what’s true about Microsoft in the very beginning, you know, I was in illustrating some of those early cloud meetings way back in the day, when they were just talking about the sales team, how are we going to sell this? And can we deliver on our promise of what we’re going to sell? And how do we do that? And you know, then to see it just grow and grow and become such a huge part of the business, really, almost all of the business, right? So I think that for you, when you think about what things that you called on in yourself, when you were kind of up against something that was challenging for you, what did you do? Or how do you manage the stress of the role that you’re in the fact that you’re female in a really high powered role? How do you manage those things?

Bhavana Bartholf  14:17

You know, it’s a good question, Patti, I think I’m still working progress and working through all of that, but I will say.

Patti Dobrowolski  14:22

Aren’t we All I don’t think this is the endless story. Right. So.

Bhavana Bartholf  14:28

I will say, so a couple of things, right. One of the things that I philosophy I have, you know, people that have known me my whole life know that I’m all about life’s short to seize the moment and there’s nothing that’s what losing a day over right? Like just Yes, things are gonna happen. stressful situations happen all the time. But you’ve got to just lighten it up, right and figure out how you keep that whole process. Yeah. And folks that have worked with me and be part of teams that I’m on, they know we work hard, and we’ll get stuff done. But oh my gosh, we will have fun through that whole process, right? Because if we can’t laugh at ourselves, then we have an issue. And so I will say some of that, just that whole approach and building a culture around the teams that you’re a part of, in that basic philosophy of anyone, including myself or anyone on the team, if you’re in a tough spot, lean in, and you know, help anybody else out. And I think the biggest piece is, we don’t want it to carry over to your personal lives, because the reality is, is whatever happens, you know, whether you’re dealing with something on the personal side.

Patti Dobrowolski  15:33

It’s all integrated, it’s not separated. That’s right.

Bhavana Bartholf  15:36

And so the whole thing is, you’ve got to just, I think, sometimes slow it down, I will say, you know, my husband is a psychotherapist, so it does help me.

Patti Dobrowolski  15:44

Fantastic. You get therapy at home therapy at home, sometimes too much therapy at all. I’m a therapist, so I know too much therapy. At least listen, first, don’t try to give me advice, please, thank you.

Bhavana Bartholf  15:55

And sometimes I don’t want the advisor to correct those components, I would say do it. Now I will say. And then you’ve got to figure out what’s important to you. From a balanced perspective. Sometimes I have way too much energy in the morning. So I like to be able to, you know, work out, have that mental time to myself. And as my husband best jokes to me, he’s like, sometimes he’s like, when I’m watching stuff on TV. He’s like, he’s like, that is the worst stuff you could possibly watch. It doesn’t matter. mindless, I don’t have to think. And it gives me some time. So that when you are there for your kids, I have three kids know when you’re there for your kids, for your family, and even for your work family, then your present because you have that time for yourself. So I would say the biggest learning for me over time has been, you know, as women, we tend to want to take care of the world and everyone around us.

Patti Dobrowolski  16:41

Definitely.

Bhavana Bartholf  16:41

And you know, when it comes to taking care of yourself, at least, you know, based on culturally how I was raised. You feel guilty. You think you’re being selfish. And I’d say the biggest learning for me over time is that if I can’t do what’s right, me first, I’m not going to be able to take care of everybody else.

Patti Dobrowolski  16:57

That’s right. That’s right, you got to take care of yourself first. So really, what’s the run of show of your day? So you get up and then do work out first? Yeah,

Bhavana Bartholf  17:05

I do. I wake up early before everybody else. And so I am usually up you know, I like getting my workout in at like 5am. Getting a little bit of time, I love to cook and do stuff. So I pretty much get your breakfast, lunch and dinner all done in the morning. Because by the end of the day, I have zero energy. But it gets me kind of going into by the time my family’s up. And some of them are not morning people, they like the fact that I’ve taken off with some of my energy.

Patti Dobrowolski  17:35

Like, go Hurry up everybody lunch back, let’s go everybody out of the house.

Bhavana Bartholf  17:40

So they just we do that. And then I do love taking. I mean, I will say the pandemic has been a big blessing because I used to be on the road so much to be take my kids to school because I feel like yeah, most conversations my kids have with me sometimes especially my older one who’s, you know, soon to be a teenager, I guess in a year, the biggest thing is that that’s when you get the most conversation out of them like That’s right, they just want.

Patti Dobrowolski  18:04

When your conversation happens at all, it’s in the car, or from school.

Bhavana Bartholf  18:09

That’s correct. And so I will say I’m super appreciative of that now. But that’s usually kind of how my day goes. And then I become extremely intentional around when I am home time with my family. Because I’m on the East Coast, everybody else I know, predominantly, most of the people I work with are on the West Coast, on being really protective of my time with them while they’re back from school and being able to balance it. And the company does a really good job. And I think every company now is being mindful.

Patti Dobrowolski  18:36

Yes, they are. Because retention is an issue. Right? We can go anywhere. So you know, be kind, right.

Bhavana Bartholf  18:43

And I think the biggest thing for me even earlier on pre COVID. And everything was it’s important to ask for what’s important to you, right. And so I have made requests and asked to balance things. And my kids were really little critical things that are going on in their lives from, you know, I know the first Mother’s Day tea that they did, and I’ve asked to leave big meetings for it and people have. And what I realised is, so far, no one’s actually said, no. You got to make sure like you ask for it.

Patti Dobrowolski  19:13

You have to ask for what you need. So ask for what you need. And then, you know, be willing to be flexible, especially, you know, give that grace to other people. I think we often you know, we demonstrate really good leadership when we are doing the right things for ourselves, right. So everybody on your team then knows, okay, but I can do this right? Bob does this so I can do this. Now, I noticed that you’re on a lot of boards. So you are really active in your community say a little bit about the board work that you’re doing and what’s important to you.

Bhavana Bartholf  19:46

It’s interesting, someone just debuted recently, you know, from the classroom to the boardroom, right like which is big decisions for most companies across the board are made in the boardrooms and.

Patti Dobrowolski  19:56

Yes.

Bhavana Bartholf  19:56

Based off of you know, guidance that I was given it hadn’t occurred to me till about a couple of years ago. But I’d been given coaching and guidance from a couple of great mentors of mine where they just said, like, if you want to drive systemic change, you need to see representation on the top and the driver up representation on the top, that means you’ve got to

Patti Dobrowolski  20:18

Find out how to go there, we’ve got to go there. And that’s right.

Bhavana Bartholf  20:21

So and then when I started looking up the statistics of women on boards, and I know we’ve made improvement, you know, holistically on that book, but we’re nowhere close to where we should be. And so, so it was initially like, well then make that decision. So I did join the board of directors for Wex. Inc, you know, as I was going through that process, I intentionally picked that company, because it’s a very diverse and interesting board. But more importantly, as the CEO, she’s a female, younger, she had her kids, actually, after she was named CEO, and just loved her energy. And I was like, I’m gonna do this.

Patti Dobrowolski  20:56

And I’m gonna do it with somebody you really respect and love and that you want to help them, you know, lift them up with your energies.

Bhavana Bartholf  21:02

And so I started there, and then now it’s been more of so now let’s make sure we’re having, because then it gives you credibility, you and it, you understand it? And now, how are you going to create that path for others, because I think the most important thing is, if you know, representation matters, but you got to play your role in helping you drive that change. And so, so I do that I’ve been on a couple of nonprofit boards, and then my, I went to NC State, and I realised like, alright, if we are going to try to make a shift, then I love Dean Louis, who’s our, for the College of Engineering. And when he asked, I was like, this is the time to do it like to go back. And, you know, we have a lot of, if you look across the board, we see a lot of women accepted into STEM related fields over the past couple of years. And so making sure we create a path to ensure that they are.

Patti Dobrowolski  21:54

They’re successful. They’re successful. Right. So really, you’ve recommended more than 30 Women for board seats. That’s what’s true. That’s correct. Yeah. I mean, like, that’s a big number. That’s huge. That kind of an impact really makes a difference. And I think this to me is how you actually take action, and step into the role that you’ve been given and utilise it, use it to show other people that you can make change. And I think systemic change, it happens over time, wouldn’t you say? What kinds of changes have you seen since you came into this field that you would call out as things that are positive, moving in the right direction?

Bhavana Bartholf  22:37

I’ve come into like, even at Microsoft, when I initially took on certain organisations that I think, Patti, you helped do an illustration for a strategy for one of those organisations. When I started off in consulting, where when I came into the organisation, in that specific field of IT Service Management, I think there was myself and one other woman, and it was a really large organisation. And I remember asking folks, and they were like, No, we’ve tried women are not interested. Right. And I think we’ve gone from.

Patti Dobrowolski  23:06

Yeah.

Bhavana Bartholf  23:06

That type of a conversation to we see, you know, companies, and I know, we still have work, but being really mindful on are you creating the right job descriptions that cater to how women, you know, apply for positions? Right? Are you ensuring that when you go through an interview process, you show representation on the other side of the table? So people feel like.

Patti Dobrowolski  23:29

They want to come there? Come there? Yeah, yeah. Because they see themselves there. Right.

Bhavana Bartholf  23:34

Right. And are you looking at unique differentiators of bringing in different types of individuals, you know, both from a background and experience standpoint versus what you actually have to complement your team, so that we can innovate and we can be better, right. And I think that I’ve done teams after team where we’ve gone through that process and that journey, and it still is a conversation and work that we intentionally have to be you have to put the effort into and make sure that we are set up for that success, because sometimes we also do a great job of attracting great talent. But then we’ve got to also make sure we’re doing everything we can.

Patti Dobrowolski  24:12

That’s right. That’s right. Because I think that it’s one thing to be given a role and you’re really excited about it. But it’s another thing to be sitting in a vacuum and not feel part of a community and not be included in conversations or have a seat at the table. Meaning that you actually your voice is heard and then allies in the room, promote your voice. You know, these are very simple things that people can do, but they’re not always done and male or female, that’s your role. Right? If you want to make change, you have to promote people’s ideas so that they’re heard again and again and again like that. Well, now when you think about so you like really just shot up in your career. So when you think about what your vision I’m wondering, what’s your vision, so you’ve been in this role for a year but What’s your big vision for your life? Or for what you’re doing right now? What are you reaching out for right now? In your world?

Bhavana Bartholf  25:09

I will say like, so it’s funny, my career ambition. And what I’ve been working towards has not changed. And like over 15 years, 16 years, or whatever it has been, but, you know, one of it was I wanted to be in corporate leadership and be able to run a company and

Patti Dobrowolski  25:22

Check what’s Yeah, check.

Bhavana Bartholf  25:26

Did I ever think that I would still be a Microsoft, I doubt that that was what I had initially planned.

Patti Dobrowolski  25:31

I know. But the thing about Microsoft is they move you around from role to role you get to work all over the world, if you want to write in all different business units. Yes.

Bhavana Bartholf  25:40

Right. I think the experience I think is, has been great. And then I will say like, you know, never underestimate the importance of being part of a company that has a healthy culture, and then working for people that actually appreciate and value you, right, like, so there’s, the grass always looks greener on the other side. But I think those pieces for me, I’ve grown up with it, and I’m learning now even more than ever, that you’ve got to be able to love the person you work for, you know, the team that you’re a part of, and truly aligned with the value of what the company is doing. Right. And so I think that has, you know, kept me here. And I’ve kind of enjoyed the experience and drive associated to it.

Patti Dobrowolski  26:24

Yes, well, I love that that is part of the big picture for you is to continue on this trajectory that you’re going. And also to you got three kids, and that’s a lot, right, you’re married, you have three kids, and they’re not teenagers yet. Is that what you’re telling me?

Bhavana Bartholf  26:40

That’s correct.

Patti Dobrowolski  26:41

I mean, like, that’s a full plate, right? So I think what I think about that, and the level of responsibility you’ve been able to manage, you know, I’m so impressed with the fact that you’ve been able to serve on boards and have your role and support your team in a way that they feel listened to, and respected. And you have an awesome family. So when you think about being able to pivot and change and grow into the roles that you’ve been given, right, knowing that you started in manufacturing, and now you’re the chief digital officer, right, for this huge sales organisation, tell me, what would you say to someone who’s just starting out, or they’re trying to figure out who they are what they want to do to change and step into the person that they longed to be? What would you tell them? What piece of advice would you give them?

Bhavana Bartholf  27:34

Right? Well, I think that the biggest thing, don’t say a couple of things, right? It’s important to be able to be your authentic self, and bring your whole self to work, right. Just never feel like you have to hide a component of trying to be like somebody else, because what’s unique about you, is what makes you great, right? So I will say that something you’ve got to be proud of own? And I know it’s not easy.

Patti Dobrowolski  27:57

No.

Bhavana Bartholf  27:59

That would be the thing. The second component for me, and I will say this has served me well is I never pigeonhole myself into a specific job or title, because I would say over 50% of the jobs I’ve taken on, you know, including the one that I currently am in, didn’t exist before I did it. And so if I had gone down a specific path, and I had narrowed myself in, and I think the world is changing faster now than it did when I started in my career. And so yes, I would say keep an open mind on what opportunities are out there and make sure that it works for you. And you have, you know, something to offer as well. And don’t underestimate your value on what you can now offer. I will say that many times I think I’ve had a lot of great support. But then I’ve gone into businesses, I was like, Why in the world am I like, what do I think I could possibly do? I remember some of those questions early on, but I was like, someone thinks I can do it. Well, might as well give it a shot, right? Like, but I always say try it even in scenarios where things don’t work out great. That is an actual learning experience. And I will say, you know, there’s a few scenarios where things haven’t, you know, gone as planned or changes, you know, happened, where it’s not aligned with what I’ve wanted to do, right? I’m not ready to scenario. I will say those are the times where I truly think I challenged myself and pushed myself to accelerate that next step that I really needed to take. And so all of those are learning experiences. And I think just, I would say appreciate it and embrace it as you kind of go through that process.

Patti Dobrowolski  29:30

Oh, I love that. I mean, I think we so fear failure. But in fact, failure is the greatest learning tool, we have every opportunity, right? Every experience has the opportunity in it hidden in it embedded in it for us to grow and change and modify. The other thing that you said but you didn’t really call out is that you said that the role wasn’t always there before, right? So that means that sometimes you may see a need for a role to exist that doesn’t exist now. You can ask for that you can ask for that to be developed. Just like when you are if you’re an entrepreneur and you want to grow something in an area, you’re going to have to figure out what the role is that needs to be in place. And then fill it with people who represent you your value and your brand. And you have such a strong brand as a person, you know, you’re really a powerful woman of colour in this environment. You know, you stand, you’re loud and proud in a way, you know, for what you do, and you serve the community. And so I can’t thank you enough for just sharing all of that with us today. It was so amazing to talk to you. Thank you for being here.

Bhavana Bartholf  30:43

Thanks, Patti and appreciate you giving me the opportunity and and again, love what you’re doing. And look forward to hearing more from the various interviews that you do as well.

Patti Dobrowolski  30:52

Thank you so much. All right. So everybody, you know the drill, there’s gonna be some great show notes. And there’s some great stories in Bhavana LinkedIn profiles. So you have to look in that because she tells a story about her son, it’s really great. And it’s speaks to what we’re talking about how to step up and be brave, which is what you need to beat in order to make change in the world. And so, thanks for all your courage and thanks for taking time today. Okay, everybody, until next time Up Your Creative Genius. Let’s do this. Thanks so much for listening today. Be sure to DM me on Instagram your feedback or takeaways from today’s episode on Up Your Creative Genius. Then join me next week for more rocket fuel. Remember, you are the superstar of your universe and the world needs what you have to bring. So get busy. Get out and Up Your Creative Genius. And no matter where you are in the universe, here’s some big love from yours truly Patti Dobrowolski and the Up Your Creative Genius podcast. That’s a wrap.

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