Meet Indira Kaur Ahluwalia, Founder, and President, KAUR Strategies, a platform that facilitates authentic, strategic, and transformational growth through advisory and coaching services.
Indira Kaur Ahluwalia was in college when her father unknowingly started her business training. As a mentor, he allowed her to learn on the job and troubleshoot challenges. This sowed the seeds of entrepreneurship that led her to start her own ventures, like Development & Training Services Inc (dTS) and KAUR Strategies later. With dTS she led programs in 90 countries to inculcate equality, accountability, and sustainability in international development. In 2017, she started KAUR Strategies after facilitating dTS’ acquisition by Palladium, a global strategy, and development company where she remains a Senior Advisor.
Indira grew up in a Sikh household in Kolkata and went to a Roman Catholic school before the family moved to the US when she was 16. She and her brother learned the value of hard work from their parents, who were professionals. She attended George Mason University for her bachelor’s in Psychology and the University of Chicago for a master’s in International Relations.
She is also a strategic advisor, business and life coach, activist along with being an ace entrepreneur. For her incredible work and dedication, she has received the PSC Outstanding Achievement Award for leadership, named the Sikh Businesswoman of the Year by the Sikh Directory. She has several honors and accomplishments to her name, including serving on the boards of organizations like South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT) and the Board of Directors for Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), etc.
Talking about her ventures, she says, “dTS provided gender integration and social inclusion, monitoring and evaluation, and training services in 90 countries with funding from multilateral and bilateral donor agencies such as the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
In 2017, she embarked on a new journey with KAUR Strategies, a venture that facilitates authentic, strategic, and transformative growth for mission-driven organizations and leaders. Working with a range of clients with revenues ranging from $1.3B to $3M, KAUR Strategies provides advisory services related to equity and inclusion, strategic planning and performance, leadership and management, growth and risk management as well as business, executive, and life coaching.“
There is no success without challenges trying to bring you down. One of the biggest challenges Indira faced was doubt. She often wondered if she has what it takes to become successful. Over time, she has learned that if you believe in the outcome and the impact, your confidence will grow eventually. She also struggled to build tenacity. You have to be patient as success takes time, and failures are a part of it. She has realized that staying on course but being flexible about maneuvering growth to mitigate risks becomes an art form while running a business.
Ahluwalia never saw her ethnicity and gender as a deterrent. She had a mission and a supportive family by her side. She wasn’t going to take any biases and just wanted to become a strong professional in a space she wanted to dominate. Apart from personal, there were organizational challenges from the capital to hiring good people. Once there was a multimillion project cancellation as the client changed the course. But the team made it through. She says “…in life you are measured by how you act when you are down, and our whatever was left of our team, rose to the occasion to re-create plans, diversify, and persevere.”
Ahluwalia is deeply grateful to the people who put their trust in her and become her support system along the way. Another incident that changed her life was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the peak of her career. With children to take care of while she was in a bad marriage, it must have been scary. She learned to survive and live with intention and gratitude. She wrote down her experiences in her book Fast Forward to Hope. It is a tribute to the struggle of finding one’s own power and cultivating life’s trajectory. Whatever the odds, she puts trust in her readers to navigate through them and live life on their own terms.
It has been one hell of a journey for Indira. But did she ever back down and give up? The answer is a big NO. Even the thought never crossed her mind. She is a strong and resilient woman who made it against all odds and made it a point to learn through her experiences. Leaving a rather four inspiring messages for readers for everything she has learned and experiences, Indira says-
- The truth is that you can. The reality is that you have to choose to.
- Know what you desire. So often we don’t even know what we want. Create your own standards, don’t live somebody else’s life. Act.
- Put in the work, negotiate as you have to, even with yourself.
- The outcome is secondary to finding your purpose and accepting your value.