Dr. Kasthuri Henry

Dr. Kasthuri Henry, PhD, CTP, Six Sigma Black Belt, is driven by the mission of Building to Last and Ennobling for Success

Her ability to understand the importance of first developing the BEING and bringing that authentic self to all the DOING makes her a sought-after member of Forbes Coaches Council. CEO of KasHenry Inc and Founder of Ennobled for Success Institute, she is an accomplished international business professional who trains organizations and coaches individuals across the world to grow with mindfulness demonstrating good governance to balance the interest of the individual, organization, and society for sustained mutual prosperity while driving continuous process improvement for economic sustainability. 

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative. 

Sri Lankan by birth and Dravidian by race, I was born and raised in Dravidian land with Tamil as my mother tongue. Mom was a professor and dad was a banker, making us an affluent family in a country where education and healthcare were fully taxpayer funded. Being in a Buddhist country, raised in a Hindu family, educated in a Catholic Convent School, immersed in a religiously tolerant multilingual society on a breathtakingly gorgeous island was a magical gift. Where there is beauty, there is also danger in my reality. I grew-up amidst a genocidal civil war, a toxic legacy of the British Empire. 

I saw all the adults consumed by anger, fear, or hate.  Every moment was lived as if it could be the last. There was no place safe. We could get raided by the government military, raped, tortured, and burned alive at home, on our way to school, or going to the temple. We avoided being in groups, refrained from attending weddings, funerals, movies, birthdays, and all normal life activities that included a community. 

My rickshaw driver Thevar and my 6th Grade teacher, Rev. Sr. Julia were my living role models, who I talk about in detail in my book “Ennobled for Success: From Civil War to a US CFO” (https://www.amazon.com/Ennobled-Success-Civil-War-CFO-ebook/dp/B08LCN258T).  

  • Thevar taught me that loving is about being present and listening. He taught me the importance of inspiring the human spirit by giving people the opportunity to be seen, heard, understood, and accepted.  
  • Rev. Sr. Julia reminded me that my empathy, compassion, and kindness were gifts I needed to embrace – even when they prove to be unbearable burdens in a cruel world – because it was gifted to me for a reason.

I turned to Tamil and English books for inspiration and guidance to transcend the utter inhumanity around me.  Given my name, I naturally gravitated to Gandhi’s life; he ignited my curiosity to seek ways to rise above my circumstances. Ramayana, Bhagavat Gita, Plato, Aristotle, and others were my guiding light. I experienced the value of books and wisdom contained within them. Reading and writing became my interest and escape. I knew then that I will become a writer to inspire others long after my time on this earth comes to an end.

My childhood taught me that there are only three things that matter in this world:

  1. My sense of who I am as a soul and my relationship with the divine within me that out to be unbreakable.
  2. My relationship with my maker, who had bestowed an ennobling spirit in me and the need to honor my creator.
  3. My relationship with all life around me and how I impact those lives will be my gift to my maker.

This realization became my three-prong goal in life.  My goal was about my humanity and the human experience of my soul; it was never about any material things, titles, or accumulations.

I moved to India after my 10th grade, raised siblings, worked, and went to school.  Education was going to be my ticket out and optimism wrapped in grit and resilience were my superpowers. Bangalore became my first adopted home and I was blessed with wonderful women who had the courage to love a foreign kid and support my growth into adulthood.

Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.

Making the decision to move to India as a young girl, alone, not knowing anyone there and switching to studying in English to then raise a family was my turning point. My childhood was the back story, and I knew what happened to me did not define me. I am not a single story, and I was not going to be that refugee kid. My peace and joy were cultivated by design, from within and I already knew not to look for them externally. As the Hindu scriptures explained, tragedy and challenges as a child are gifts to polish me into my brilliance of adulthood.  I learned to become grateful for all the trauma, for it gave me the grace, humility, courage, and humanity to BECOME the person I was destined to be.  A child named Kasthuri is supposed to grow up knowing all she needs to thrive in life is already within her; She just needs to master the art of drawing from within. I gratefully lived up to the name my parents gave me, with forethought. 

I taught 30 children from the slums and helped them through with their education. In return, the nuns helped me get mine.  Because I could not go home for the holidays, I volunteered to build roads and schools across rural India. I learned to communicate without a common language and built lasting human bonds with cultural awareness and mindfulness. I opened myself up to being ennobled by countless souls and in turn ennobled others. I honed my life mission of Building to Last and Ennobling for Success. I became a child of the universe, not bound by country, community, or dwelling. I learned to be truly free.

Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea that made you start this brand? How did such a unique idea strike you, and what motivated you to “YES, go for it?”

I graduated from Bangalore University with a triple major in Computer Science, Math, and Physics. A British Bank hired me as a management trainee, and I entered the management ranks straight out of university.  I later came to the US for my MBA and on to become a young 32-year-old CFO. As my career and influence grew, due to my sought after FinTech talent, it was my human skills and EQ that propelled me to leadership influence. I was constantly being told that “for a CFO, you are too kind to people in the organization”. I would always laugh and remind them that “I am a human being who happens to be a CFO – not a CFO who happens to be human. The latter would be a valid talking point when Martians start working here alongside us humans”.  

I had made a promise to myself, as a child, that I would never compromise my humanity. The day I did, I would be throwing away all the gifts that were bestowed upon me and I would become a beating heart devoid of soul.  The brand “Ennobled for Success” germinated from this cycle of lived experience and I built my business KasHenry Inc. (www.kashenry.com) embracing my name as my brand.  My name reflects authenticity, humanity, resilience, courage, and trust I bring to the table. Why create a new brand when my life has been intentionally designed to inspire, ignite, and influence positive change? I was my brand.

I grew up in Sri Lanka as an athlete, basketball player, and chess player. These were not just extracurricular activities for me. They were teaching me life skills. My childhood had taught me that life was three-dimensional chess, and I will miss 100% of all the shots I never take. Besides, what did I have to lose? Building a brand and starting a business as a grown-up professional was a piece of cake compared to leaving home as a 16-17 year-old girl and going to a foreign country with no adult support.  Besides, I had developed a mindset that always asked the probing question “What is the worst that could happen? I could die, but then there would be nothing to worry about.” This always guided me towards taking a leap of faith, knowing my skills, capabilities, and talent. I had an endless global community around me, and I knew I had a support system to lean into.  

Normal was never my life. Never my style. Besides, I fully embrace the fact that each of us is uniquely created for a purpose and therefore we must courageously live our unique purpose. Helping others do this for themselves and share my light to brighten their path is part of what my business does. My YouTube Channel Transform with Dr. Kas Henry is one of the tangible ways I help others embrace and celebrate their own uniqueness.

Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?

There are two initiatives I am currently leading.

  1. Sustainable Economic Development in the third world through empowering boys and girls so they can grow up to become the change they need in their world.
  2. Developing emotional intelligence in youth across the United States so they develop life skills and coping mechanisms to grow up to be socially and culturally intelligent adults the world needs to have.

We live in an increasingly polarizing world divided by socio-economic realities, gender, race, religion, politics, and more. Sustainable progress requires a sustainable human society. I see the need to influence and broker the necessary positive change through collaboration and co-creation.  As part of the process, I am leading a multi-author book titled “Cultivating Our Shared Prosperity. Learn – Lead – Leave A Legacy” scheduled to launch in December 2023.  I invite you to join the team and share your own unique way in which you are making Shared Prosperity possible.  

Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?

Challenges are also opportunities. My optimism allows me to see possibilities and not obstacles. Some of the opportunities I embraced are:


Fear of “will this work?” Needing to know all about how others are doing it before taking the first step. Unapologetically embrace my uniqueness.
Leaving the steady job to start a business and then running out of money and time. Build alternate revenue streams so all financial exposure is designed to be mitigated.
Focused on the passion and not recognizing points of course correction as well as not engaging as a whole person with feeling, thinking, and acting integrated in an optimized manner. Design failsafe and exit strategies with the ability to engage my feeling, thinking, and doing so my whole self remains engaged and my intuition and wisdom co-create the path forward.
Stressing out because no case study, examples, or answers are directly available. Look to mother nature for inspiration and creative solutions.
Starting with a chip on the shoulder with beliefs like I am a woman, minority, etc and therefore this will not work out for me. Accept the fact that I am a soul having human experience and therefore I am not bound by any demographic labels. I am a source of energy and the positive energy I put into the universe returns to me.

Mindset is a major driver of perspective.  When both mindset and perspective are centered, I have the opportunity to Unleash the Inner Goldilocks ™ to invite the right support system and thrive.

While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level? 

Rumi is one of my favorite poets and I have adopted his words “I am not a drop in the ocean. I am the entire ocean in a drop”. This reminds me that all the power and wisdom of the universe is at my fingertips, and I just need to cultivate an environment conducive to tap into it. This is a human skill mastery that ennobles ordinary people to thrive. I teach it, coach it, and live it. 

Civil war, 9/11, Global Financial Crisis, and COVID, are all different versions of adversities. I have lived through them all. I have been polished to shine with brilliance by them all. These are not things that happened to me. These are circumstances I was given the opportunity to rise above. 

As an international finance and strategy professional, I was already working with my clients remotely since I could not be in multiple countries and time zones at the same time. As a graduate school professor teaching US Military and Public Safety professionals, we had already pivoted to distance learning post 9/11, out of necessity. In my personal life, I had already lived through a childhood with no social gatherings. The global pandemic therefore was the new opportunity to reframe and reposition a continually evolving life balancing the personal and professional realms.

I was already caring for a cancer patient husband, prior to COVID, had invested in a retirement home in the Caribbean to embrace a simple life, and established a work pattern of remote teaching, training, coaching, and consulting. When it looked like we were going to be in lock down mode for a long while, my husband and I moved to our retirement home where we grew our own vegetables and fruit. A simple developing world lifestyle that was independent of global supply chains and hazards of modernization. The beauty of simplicity was spiritually rewarding. As the Spirit guided the way, the rest of our being moved in harmony. We had a precious gift in our hands and we did not have to shovel snow in Chicago! Technology connected the world, and simple life calmed the soul. My husband and I love each other’s company and we had been best friends before getting married – so we were enough for each other. Another gift, we consciously gave ourselves 25-years ago.

Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention? 

Awards and Recognition:

    • Most Socially Aware Student of the Year: This is the most meaningful accomplishment for me in terms of external recognition. I had put myself through high school and university in India by serving the country that gave me a home without labeling me as a refugee. All the contributions I made gave me a sense of purpose and helped me show my gratitude to a nation. My work was recognized by my university and they created a special award just to honor the impact I made. This was a fundamental recognition of my humanity as a 21-year-old young adult. I have a diploma in social work alongside a professional education, grounding me in what truly matters. People and our shared prosperity.
    • Lybrand National Award (for Manuscript Published) for Thought Leadership added to the Management Accounting Body of Knowledge, 2012, Strategic Finance for “FP&A Squad: Financial Agents for Change (Cover Story)”. Strategic Finance, 93(4), 37-43.
    • Financial Executive of the Year Award, 2006 – Honored by Institute of Management Accountants. 
  • #1 International Best-Selling author multiple times over

Professional accomplishments:

  • The global acquisition of the Duracell Brand for Warren Buffet 
  • The business transformation and modernization of the $22 billion dollar Chicago Teachers Pension Fund as the CFO
  • Business Process improvement, automation, and lines of business integration for HSBC as the VP of Finance 
  • A CFO at Aon transforming risk management and leadership decision making including disaster recovery post 9/11 and Katrina, 

Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?

Women of all ages have grown up with self-doubt and having to compete for scarce opportunities. I have dedicated my work to flip that script and build a culture of abundance. There is enough for every one of us. When we help each other and lift each other up, we build our individual and collective prosperity. We do not have to compete. We co-create our success. 

The change I want to see is every woman entrepreneur finding the courage to draw from within and live her unique purpose, supported by other women. I want to see the day when every woman shares her light to inspire and ignite other women so we can enable every woman entrepreneur to take off towards her dream and land safely with the support of the runway of lights guiding her success. We get to be the run-way lights for supported takeoffs and landings. When we share our light, we do not get dim. Instead, the entire sky lights up!  Warren Buffet and Bill Gates do not compete. They collaborate, give each other advice and continue to build a supportive entrepreneurial relationship. We as women know how to cooperate. Let’s do it as professionals and create our version of a light show. 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life? 

Most important lesson I have learned in life is that money, power, and position are all fleeting. Unconditional love and our humanity are perennial as grass. Success is all about having the courage to love and embrace our humanity with grace to leave every place better than I found it. That is lasting and meaningful success. That is why my mission in life is “Building to Last and Ennobling for Success”. 

Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?

I was a rare professional who became a young CFO in a man’s world. I, however, never saw myself in a physically limiting presence. I was always a soul and a professional. 

I also understand that for most women, my approach is not their reality. Today’s world needs leaders who have the courage to be empathetic, finesse to embrace resilience, and authenticity to build trust. These are femininity traits embodied as feminine energy. Women can stop trying to be masculinity-based leaders hiding their innate feminine energy and step into the light as whole persons. They also have the opportunity to empower their male counterparts to courageously embrace their feminine energy.  For, every human has both masculine and feminine energy within them. Social conditioning has beaten the feminine energy out of men.  When we each master the art of getting centered by balancing our masculine and feminine energies, the magic starts happening. Women leaders with an abundance mindset will be the change makers poised to transform the future – a future of ennobled leaders who mindfully balance their Ying and Yang. Like Shiva and Shakti, understand and embrace the equal parts to be whole.

With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

It is my hope that young women reading this recognize the innate power they possess.  Each of them is a flower in a garden, intentionally designed to be who they are with the freedom to bloom during their season. A vibrant garden has a variety of plants with leaves and flowers of various kinds growing and blooming at different times. Take a page from another nature. Look, listen, and integrate the wisdom all around us.

Lean into older women like me. Give us the opportunity to share our light and brighten your path. We are here because other women made our life possible. Let each generation stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. 

Flow like water.  Gently but persistently. We have the power to bring about change if we act in unison. Just like water turning a mountain into a hill, then rock, stone, pebble and finally sand, we too can change the world, gently. Let’s bring about lasting change with grace without compromising our humanity. When we speak and move quietly with intent, we accomplish more than noisy vexations.