“As a leader, give direction, seek feedback, and motivate positively to foster excellence.” – Explore the remarkable journey of CS Vandana Bhatia, Director-Legal, Compliance & Company Secretary, Ryan

This interview has been published by Namrata Singh and The SuperLawyer Team

Vandana, your journey from college to becoming a prominent figure in corporate law and compliance is truly inspiring. Could you walk us through your college years and share what influenced your decision to pursue a career in this field? Additionally, what were some of the initial challenges you faced when you started your career, and how did you overcome them?

I started working right after class 12 to complete my higher education due to my family crises. I did my higher education through distance learning; it was challenging and not easy as having to work and study together. Also, didn’t have enough guidance, so I took some tutions on subjects that I found difficult over weekends and late hours—still managed to complete the same after so much struggle and hard work. I belong to Ghaziabad a place that was back then known for power cuts that were longer than 12 hrs. a day, I remember studying in candlelight sometimes. I never wanted to be what I am today (wanted to be a journalist back then), my father encouraged me to pursue Company Secretary and that further influenced my decision to have MBA (finance) and LLb degrees in my hand. I am proud of the decision that I took back then to fulfil my father’s wish and thank my parents for always being an encouragement and support system for me.

Congratulations on receiving an honorary doctorate in Law and Governance from California Public University! Could you share with us what this recognition means to you personally, and how it has impacted your career trajectory and aspirations for the future?

This is like a dream come true, I always wanted to have a doctorate and prefix Dr. in front of my name. It was a complete privilege and honour for me to get this Honorary Doctorate from California Public University. This has helped in receiving recognition from many of my peers and seniors.

You currently serve as the Director-Legal & Compliance at Ryan India Tax Services Private Limited. Could you provide us with insights into your day-to-day responsibilities in this role and how you ensure alignment between legal and compliance functions within the company?

I have a big role and responsibility to ensure 100% compliance on all functions in India and that requires regular monitoring and diligence. Further as legal director, my responsibility is to provide legal advice, review legal documents and proactively address to legal risks. I happen to be successful in balancing both roles as I have my own matrix to categorize the matters/tasks.

You’ve navigated through various sectors such as pharma, education, finance, and more. How has this diverse experience influenced your perspective on corporate governance and compliance across different industries?

I have been lucky in working in different sectors which made me understand certain regulations applicable to those sectors like in pharma there is specific drugs and cosmetics acts which is applicable; NBFC have certain Master Directions of RBI that need to be adhered too. This provided an edge to learn those specifics and apply the same in the job.

Your list of achievements and awards is incredibly impressive. Amidst such professional success, what personal values or principles do you hold dear that guide you through your journey?

My personal mantra is to act with integrity and be true to yourself. Keep working hard and smart and believe nothing is impossible.

You’ve been involved in instituting corporate governance frameworks and setting up processes in multiple organizations. What are some common challenges you’ve faced in this process, and how do you overcome them?

Challenges were to go deep dive into the problem areas of non-compliance and making the same complaint. That required going back to the inception of the organization. The developing process was not that challenging but making stakeholders understand the implications and implementation was a tough job.

Your list of achievements and awards is incredibly extensive, ranging from being recognized as one of the “Top 10 Chief Compliance Officers in India” to receiving the “Golden Pinnacle Award” and an Honorary Doctorate. How do you stay grounded amidst such recognition and maintain a humble approach to your work and interactions?

I always believe you should never forget your roots and the hard work that you have put in to achieve them. It’s not only professional but I always believe that even personally a person should stay humble.

As a leader, what qualities do you believe are essential for fostering a positive work culture and inspiring your team to achieve excellence?

As a leader, it is important to give the right directions to the team, and give them space to explore, innovate and learn. It also important for a leader to seek feedback from the team which will build a positive impact and confidence on the team. Give credit and recognition to those deserved in the team and motivate others positively. Be approachable and not bossy.

Beyond your professional achievements, what are some hobbies or interests that bring you joy and fulfillment outside of work? How do you make time for them amidst your busy schedule?

I love reading books (mostly spiritual books) and travelling, I try to squeeze a week travel once or twice in a year.

Given your extensive experience and remarkable achievements, what suggestions or advice would you give to the upcoming generation of professionals looking to enhance their CV and leave a lasting impact in their respective fields

Don’t restrict to work been assigned to you, keep looking for the opportunities within organization where you can grow and provide your value addition. Keep learning as that never stops and compete with yourself. Also, diversify your work horizon.

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