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Executive Interview
Arunanjali Maria
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   Executive Interviews   
An Interview with
Arunanjali Maria
Founding Partner and Director

TBSL is a Learning Consulting Company focussing on Leadership Development. We work with clients in APAC to help them build internal capabilities. We design bespoke solutions customized to every client's unqiue needs.

Founded in 2010. In the last 11 years we have covered over 100 companies, run 2000 plus programs across 6 locations in APAC delivering training & coaching interventions with a team of talented and highly-skilled training professionals.

Our work is in the area of training, consulting & coaching that focuses on : Leadership Development, Diversity & Inclusion, Business Storytelling, Leading High-performing teams, Future Human Skills, Behavioural and skill development etc.

Publish Date: 
14 August 2021
Hong Kong

Tell us about your background, and how you came to found your company?

I am a Founding Partner and Director for TBSL, a Learning consulting company.

I worked with a Multinational Bank on the business side – managing acquisitions, Client experience, Marketing Services, Debt Collections etc. and then moved into Learning.

With a fail fast, learn it fast mindset and great mentors, I realized training and coaching is my calling. I was fortunate to get opportunities to work with some of the most brilliant minds, many of who were my Mentors. I learnt from them about striving together for a common goal, win win approach, problem solving mindset etc.

As a professional I have over 20 years of experience in Retail banking and then in running my Learning and Development consulting enterprise.

In 2010 , I got together with two of my ex-banking colleagues, who were similarly passionate about people development, to set up our company. Our aim is to help corporates build internal capabilities and our (BHAG) : Big Hairy Audacious Goal is bringing humanity to the workplace where organizations create happy safe places for people to grow and find meaning.

What is most important to you and your organization – mission, vision, or core values? Why?

We started our company with a philosophy anchored around the need for uniqueness in learning. Hence we only offer customized unique learning solutions for our clients, rather than cookie cutter training solutions and don’t subscribe to a one size fits all approach. This has served me as a Corporate Trainer and I apply this in my coaching practice as well.

Having worked last 8 years in a diverse place like Hong Kong has helped in my ability to appreciate and incorporate nuances of cultures in my engagements.

Our clients are at the heart of all training and coaching design.

Our Mission therefore is “Partnering with You to translate Your vision into measurable performance.”

Our Vision is about bringing human connections and conversations into the workplaces for people to bring their full selves to work.

Our core values that drive our actions and decisions everyday at work are :

- Put yourself in Client’s situation

- Listen first, open heartedly

- Appreciate individual and cultural differences

- Always an extra mile

Can you explain briefly how your service(s)/product(s) works?

We realized early that people would attend trainings and then get back to “Business As Usual’ and there were no behavioural changes post the training programs.

Hence we curate bespoke solutions unique to a clients needs, helping them build internal capabilities. Trainings that are relevant and practical with elements that people can easily adopt and deploy in their work place.

We follow up with post program interventions, to ensure there is application back at work. This also ensures clients can measure Return On their Investments.

How has the industry been changing in recent years?

Learning, Digital and Sustainability are cornerstone of 2020 and beyond.

When there is an accelerated pace of change, the single most competitive advantage is to be a lifelong learner. 2020 and beyond, is about becoming deliberate and intentional about learning. Hence learning is becoming more Learner-led.

Organisations are changing quickly. Structures are flatter and reporting lines more complex. Teams and Clients are spread around the world. And everyone is deafened by the ‘noise’ of information inundation. We all need powerful ways of cutting through the noise so that our message sticks, people ‘get’ what we are saying – and they remember it.

Reskilling & upskilling was trending even before the pandemic. However this simply catapulted with COVID-19 as companies and employees had to adapt overnight to the drastically changed business landscape, skill requirements, and job expectations.Today companies are looking to hire people who are creative and can think out of the box with transferable skills. We now hear more and more about career transformations : an accountant moving to HR, a person with no analyst experience to the Analytical team etc.

Companies are spending time to create learning that is on-going, accessible and bite size for employees to make the desired choice for themselves and enhance their skills.

Technology and AI is being actively incorporated into people development.

Sustainability is the other big part of the strategic decisions in companies. It influences every part of the business and a big driver in decision making for Learning & Development.

What makes you different from what’s currently available in the market?

As a Training & Coaching company we are clear that we don’t design for organizations we design for people in the organizations.

Studying human behaviour has always inspired me. As a professional practitioner of Business Storytelling, DISC profile, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Positive Quotient and a professional ICF Coach we promise our clients an empathetic ear and a structured process that will help them move from being stuck to unstuck in their professional or personal lives.

We follow a consultative approach with clients more inquiry-based, experiential and less tell approach.

At TBSL we follow the 4D approach to ensure training and learning is effective back at work :

Diagnosis: doing deep research with clients

Design : experiential sessions that make learning fun and memorable with practice and applications

Delivery : Use different methods example: case stories, simulations, storytelling patterns, games etc. ensuring learning sticks whether online or classroom or blended.

Deployment : Tool kits like a ready reckoner, deliberate practice, projects to offer support to ensure behaviours change.

We put ourselves in the shoes of the client, to understand the pain points and work towards navigating to the clients expected outcomes.

What does the future hold for your company?

It is like I heard someone say – ‘we are all in the same storm, however in different boats’.

Content and delivery both are undergoing a change in our business.

Content : example today we work extensively with clients on defining new ways of working in 2021 and beyond, Executive presence in the online world, Collaboration in hybrid world etc. Also there is a lot of focus on coaching approach to leadership : Leaders As Coaches.

Methodology : Going Digital is not just a buzz word, it is the way forward for us as for everyone else. More and more of our clients are seeking use of sharper and more digital/AI for learning.

Some examples:

App- based learning: We have slowly yet steadily moved to app based learning offering choice and accessibility of learning for our clients.

Video nuggets: Offering bite sized story-format learning modules sub 12-15 minutes. Content that is fun, engaging and intuitive.

Ai based practice and application: Using AI to test learning and application with assessment and evaluation for each pax.

We are testing waters actively and with confidence to make the above a new way of life to create greater value-add for all stakeholders.

This will ensure that not just 1 person takes 100 steps instead it will result in 100 people taking 1 step forward.


Arunanjali Maria

Supplementary Information

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