BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
With a lifetime goal merely to be a good human being, Vandana Sharma, the regional manager for Americas at Air India, said that she is dedicated to helping people.
Born and raised in Allahabad, India, Sharma inherited her grandfather’s morals and work ethic.
“My grandfather was the family head, emphasizing on teaching with love, and leading the example of strong family values, tolerance, focusing on your duties with no excuses, respect for education and freedom of thought and expression,” said Sharma. “These laid the foundation of a young adult venturing out into the corporate world.”
Sharma landed her career in 1989 as a management trainee and direct entry officer at Indian Airlines, which today is known as Air India.
In 2015, Sharma was promoted to the regional manager for Americas at Air India, where she has since helped it to grow from 21 flights per week out of three gateways in the United States to approximately 36 flights per week out of five gateways.
Although Air India’s regional head office is based in Manhattan, Sharma decided to move to Queens due to there being a nonstop flight between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Delhi, which is Air India’s flagship flight. She also believed that Queens was the ideal location to live due to its accommodations.
“The diversity of people, the warmth and convenience, the safe neighborhoods for women living alone, the well-connected communities by public transportation and the parks, all make for a welcoming environment and is probably unmatched in the world,” she said.
Upon thinking back to the start of her career, Sharma said that she didn’t see herself becoming the regional manager for one of the most successful international airlines in the country.
“My foremost aim is to do the job entrusted and do it well,” said Sharma.
Sharma lives by the Nishkam Karma philosophy, which means to act unselfishly or without personal gain in mind.
“My measure of success is having been able to implement the vision of Air India to provide improved connectivity between India and the United States,” said Sharma.
Sharma—who has enabled the growth of Air India and is proud for being able to bring people and businesses from different countries together—said that as long as she is alive, she intends to grow as a person.
“Each day is a test of skills and capabilities and gives me an opportunity to learn,” said Sharma.
Having achieved a high leadership role at Air India—which she noted has the highest percentage of women pilots in the world—Sharma said she believed that it is important that companies hire an equivalent number of men and women.
“Women are people first and foremost,” said Sharma. “By nature, they have the unique distinction of being able to give birth and nurture the next generation and continue the growth of species. They are therefore the stronger sex with inherent ability to adapt and multitask, all with nurturing supportive skills. When an organization does not discriminate against women, the imbalance in number of men and women at higher levels in the organization starts to decrease.”
Sharma said that the prosperity of women has been measured in economic terms and resulted in women being looked at as “lesser beings.”
“This malaise spread globally across ancient civilizations as colonization progressed,” said Sharma. “We cannot turn back the clock, but we need to give all people the dignity to be able to do whatever job they are capable of doing, irrespective of whether they are a man or woman.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400, ext. 144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.