Career stories: Dr Reena Jamnadas, Head of Talent Practice, Cappfinity

Apr 6, 2022 | Careers, Sector & policy

Dr Reena’s career story describes a purposeful, strengths-based journey.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Marianne Williamson was spot on with these infamous and powerful words.

It is this sense of purpose that drives me every day; supporting early career professionals and organisations to realise their fullest potential.

Upon graduating over 16 years ago, I was privileged to join Cappfinity when it was just conceived as an idea by our founders, Dr Alex Linley and Nicky Garcea.

Alex was my dissertation supervisor at the University of Leicester. Based on my passion for positive psychology and building strengths-based organisations after graduating, he shared the vision for Cappfinity and the opportunity for me to join the adventure of a lifetime.

I will always remain eternally grateful to Alex and Nicky, who believed in my potential based on my strengths from the very early stages of my career through to now. True to our mission of Strengthening the World, Cappfinity is globally renowned as the leader in strengths-based assessment and development, providing award-winning talent solutions with offices in the UK, USA and Australia.

Through this incredible journey, I have held a breadth of roles, partnering with global organisations across diverse sectors, and built deep expertise in strengths-based assessment, development and transformation.

Highlights in my career include leading teams in the design of strengths-based, bias-free assessments to increase social mobility for underrepresented talent; partnering with universities and colleges to ‘level the playing field’ through building career readiness and employability solutions; leading the product design of the world’s first strengths-based 360 tool; and designing data-led, strengths-based early career development programmes.

Passionate also about developing leaders, I really enjoyed studying towards my PhD on the ‘Role of Wisdom in Organisational Leadership’, which was sponsored by Cappfinity, and supervised by Professor Michael West (who many of you will know as the embodiment of wise leadership!).

I believe that wise and compassionate leadership should be the lifeblood within our organisations, and is at the very heart of creating cultures of inclusion and belonging.

My career has also been shaped by inspirational leaders such as Stephanie Hopper, Roxanne Hori, Helen Dovey and many other colleagues. I have learned from the way that they create high performing cultures of inclusion and belonging, by tuning into and championing the strengths that make every individual unique.

Diversity and inclusion at my heart

As a female, ethnic minority leader myself, bringing greater diversity, equality and inclusion within the workplace is very close to my heart.

As many Asian families have experienced, I come from a family whose grandparents migrated from India to Africa. Later my parents migrated from Africa to the UK, courageously stepping into the unknown, embracing diverse cultures, and seeking to create a sense of belonging for future generations.

I feel deeply committed to understanding the experiences of under-represented groups, using this awareness to create cultures of belonging.

With this purpose, I was privileged to volunteer with the National Autistic Society, the Youth Offending Service in Leicestershire, and most recently, serving as a mentor with amazing initiatives such as Migrant Leaders and the 1 Hour Project.

At Cappfinity, together with Dr Alex Linley, and Dr Robert Biswas-Diener (known as the Indiana Jones of positive psychology) I served as a Founding Trustee of The Strengths Project, where I was privileged to spend time with communities in the slums of Kolkata, helping underprivileged women discover their strengths. As a result, they formed a successful women’s sewing enterprise to alleviate poverty by each playing to their strengths.

Paying it forward

I am privileged to serve as an ISE board director, with a specific focus on diversity, equality and inclusion.

At the ISE I believe we have the privilege of shaping the experiences of early career professionals that will form the foundation of their entire lives and careers.

With the opportunities that have been afforded to me through my career, the investment that others have made through recognising my strengths, and the sense of belonging that I have felt as a result, I am eager to give back by creating similar opportunities for others.

I am so excited to collaborate with the ISE team, fellow board members, and the D&I Task Group to empower organisations to create greater diversity amongst early talent and strong cultures of inclusion and belonging that enable early career professionals to truly flourish.

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