Inside Change with Aarti Bhatnagar
What initially drew you to Change.org?
When I first applied to Change.org, I was drawn to the company because of its social impact mission and its respected list of investors. As I learned more about the company, I was amazed by the stories of victory from campaigns all around the world. It was clear to me that this company truly chooses strategy that will make the most impact for our users. I was also so excited to play a generalist role working on a technical team as I knew the opportunity would be challenging but ultimately so rewarding for my career.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me is a mix of planning for meetings coming up, facilitating and attending meetings, and working on content in between. In terms of fostering connection, I make it a point to eat lunch with the team every day and do 1:1’s with folks I haven’t chatted with during the week. I also try to snag 20 minutes to do a quick meditation in our “nap room” as often as my schedule allows.
What are you most proud of since joining the team?
Since joining the team, I have been most proud of leading efforts and projects regarding inclusion. In the last year, we launched an engineering office in Paris and I led efforts to ensure our Parisian colleagues were included and integrated in our west-coast engineering workflow and culture. I have also been working to create bridges and opportunities for collaboration between our product development teams and our global campaigning teams. I co-lead our women’s group and am proud to have revamped our charter to represent both women and non-binary people.
How do you think your identity has impacted your professional experiences?
My identity as a relatively young-person of color-female has definitely impacted my professional experiences. For a good chunk of my career, I was consulting for clients that were older-white-males. I have often been the only representation of diversity in a room. In those rooms, I felt an immense need to prove my worth and show that I deserved to take up space. That extra mental strain was exhausting. I luckily have had amazing colleagues that have been my allies, thus lightening the burden for me. I am very proud of my identity, and that pride has catalyzed me to lead both D&I and women’s groups within my workplaces.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to new professionals who may be trying to manage their identities in the workplace?
I would advise new professionals to seek out affinity groups and employee resource groups within their organization. If a group that relates to your identity does not exist, I would encourage you to lead the effort in creating one. If you are feeling lost, there is a high likelihood that others are as well. Work is where we spend most of our time and therefore should be a place where we can either join or create community.
What’s the best piece of advice a mentor has given you?
One of the best pieces of advice a mentor gave me was the phrase “squeaky wheel gets the grease”. It represents the fact that you are your best advocate so it’s key to vocalize what you want and deserve.
When you’re not at work, what do you spend your free time doing?
When I’m not at work, my time is most often spent on my music “side hustles.” I am a singer and commit many evenings after work to rehearsals, collaborations, and performances. My current projects include working on recording my first original song as well as creating a brand new Bay Area a’cappella group.
What’s the best book you read in 2019?
I sadly didn’t prioritize reading a bunch in 2019 so I can’t say I have a favorite book from the year. I did, however, absorb new theories and frameworks through Change.org’s leadership and onboarding sessions. Through the Conscious Leadership Group and Change.org’s Interpersonal Skills Training, I learned some of the best frameworks related to conflict resolutions and relationship management that I use every day in my professional and personal life.