Arti Kashyap-Aynsley discovered her passion for wellness in a fast-paced corporate career where, at global consulting firm Deloitte, she worked on strategic firm programmes and talent strategy. But despite having one of those careers that looked great on paper, Arti was burning out fast. Here, Arti reflects on her biggest achievement yet… sticking with her gut to fight for her dream (wellness-focused) job, and finding it in the most surprising place.
It wasn’t until very recently that companies like KPMG, PwC and Deloitte – the kind of companies that Arti cut her teeth in over a 15-year corporate career – were invested in the personal wellbeing of their staff. And yet in 2012, after experiencing her own massive burnout and an inevitable wakeup call, Arti realised that her passion for people, their development and wellbeing, were ultimately the values that would inspire a powerful career shift.
Below, Arti shares the steps she took to carve out a role for herself as Head of Wellness at Deloitte – a role in which today is flourishing. It’s a career journey that was not without setbacks, resulting in hard work, dedication, and a desire to do work that matters.
Arti, tell us a bit more about your career prior to becoming Head of Wellness at Deloitte?
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with PwC, I joined Deloitte Consulting in 2010. Since joining the firm, I have had the opportunity to work on a multitude of programmes focused on Finance Transformation, get involved in large monumental and strategic firm programmes and dedicate much of my time to developing our younger generation of employees and our talent strategy.
It is no secret therefore, that at the heart of everything I do – people, their development, their health/wellbeing and success are the most important to me. This coupled with my passion for the health and wellness industry is what has led me to embark on a new role with the firm as the Head of Wellness across Deloitte Consulting in the UK.
At the heart of everything I do – people, their development, their health/wellbeing and success are the most important to me.
What inspires you about corporate wellness specifically?
I would say it is helping to motivate and inspire those in big corporate environments that taking care of their wellbeing does not have to be something they do that impacts them and their progression negatively. IN FACT, it usually means the complete opposite.
What inspired you to want to work in wellness?
I have worked in professional services for almost 15 years. In this time I have travelled the world, lived a very fast-paced life and experienced first hand the issues/pressures that come with the industry and the detriment it can have on your health. The truth behind this all is that the industry comes with the stigma that you put work ahead of everything else and I lived that wholeheartedly.
This meant that I lived with no routine, extreme behaviours and attitudes, lack of rest/sleep, excessive travel, hotel and aeroplane living, etc.
But in 2012 after experiencing my own personal wake up call, I started to change the way I looked at life, my health and how that translated to my own personal success in the corporate world and more specifically in my chosen field.
Through this whole journey, I realised that actually the more I put myself first, took care of my overall wellness and set boundaries I was more successful in my job and much happier as a person. It has been through this journey, coupled with me qualifying as a personal trainer and fitness instructor, that has inspired me to work in wellness and more specifically corporate wellness.
I want current leaders to understand that they do not have to wait for something to happen to change their patterns and ways of living and I want to inspire the generation coming into the workforce to care about their wellness and set their boundaries from the outset so that they can thrive in the environment and in their own journeys’.
I realised that actually the more I put myself first… I was more successful in my job and much happier as a person.
Now that you work in the industry, what would be your main piece of advice for anyone out there who wants to do the same?
My biggest piece of advice would be to know and understand WHY you want to work in the industry and hold onto that. Let that be your driver. It is so easy to get distracted by everything that is out there and everyone else’s successes, but what you have to do is stay focused on what you want to do and achieve.
What were the crucial steps and actions that you took that helped you get to where you are today?
Some of the key things that worked for me were/are:
- Following my curiosities and letting that be and continue to be my driver.
- Getting a PT qualification and not because I knew I wanted to train people but because I wanted to learn more about wellness/health overall.
- Taking my time vs. rushing into anything. I really spent time understanding what I wanted to do and exploring my options. It was less about just getting into the industry and more about finding the right role/avenue for me.
- Networking, going to events and exploring the industry – so whether that was fitness and health-related events or panel discussions that were put on by various folks in the industry or reading about the industry or talking to individuals to understand their journey’s.
- Dedicating time each week to learning/working on a brand/role in general.
The things that did not work for me and/or that I found were setbacks were/are:
- Getting distracted by social media. It was so easy to be let down by the slowness in my journey and what seemed to be the fast pace of everyone else’s around me. Also seeing other people sometimes made me question what I was doing, how I would find a space for myself in the industry, etc., especially since I never saw anyone that I looked like or represented so it was so easy to drive second-guessing.
- Surrounding myself with just anyone in the industry. I realised that I did not want the same thing as everyone else and like social media being around loads of people in the industry made me question what I was doing, whether I made sense, etc. I also ran into people that wanted to just gain my knowledge/ideas and use them. So I just became more selective with who I spent my time with and surrounded myself with. It may sound bad – but the truth is not everyone wants you to succeed and I learnt that the hard way. The industry is competitive in some respects so you just have to be aware of that – I have always wavered on the side of being too naïve, so for me, I really had to build and set boundaries around this.
Are there any myths or misconceptions about working in Corporate Wellness that you want to debunk?
I think a big one is that it is easy! Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE MY JOB. But corporate wellness is a new concept and while it is very on trend, it is not something that is always bought into or understood. There are a lot of mentalities to have to change and impact, which therefore means that for every positive conversation you have, you likely have 4 or 5 that go really badly. Trying to influence people to make changes in how we fundamentality operate and continue to going forward is not an easy task.
The other aspect that I would say can make it hard is the fact that it can be lonely. I went from working and leading project teams that were massive and now I work on my own with a senior group of leaders whom I may email every day, but don’t necessarily sit with and talk to like I did my old project teams. Therefore, your network becomes important and adding that to the pressure of your day to day can sometimes be exhausting and very time-consuming.
Finally, what do you love about working in the industry?
I will start with my job. The thing I love about working in the role I have is the impact I can start to see that I am having. Some of the emails I get on a day to day, literally overwhelm me, but when you can see and hear about the impact you are having and the support people are getting it makes every challenge, every difficult moment, every minute of second-guessing yourself so worth it. And ultimately this is what has driven me to do what I do – having an impact and being a change agent.
Beyond my role, I love the industry of corporate wellness because it is such a catalyst in changing the mentality of old school corporate operations. It is changing the “city” for the better and being a part of the industry doing that is incredible. I get to meet the most amazing people and get to have some incredible conversations that leave me constantly inspired. Work doesn’t feel like work because I am doing something I am so passionate about and I am able to see the impact and be inspired to make further change by all the people I get to interact within this industry.