Shivika is the Founder and CEO of The Veneka Group and a renowned advocate for conscious consumerism. The Veneka Group is a consulting firm that aims to reshape capitalism as a force for positive change. It dares to imagine a world where global personal consumption contributes to sustainability and humanitarian betterment. Shivika is a TEDx speaker and according to Forbes, "a leader in corporate social responsibility and marketing to the conscious consumer."
Shivika is part of the Novus Summit team at the United Nations General Assembly, where innovators on the frontlines of the U.N’s SDGs are celebrated. She is a mentor at XRC Labs, a startup accelerator with a focus on sustainable businesses. Shivika is a member of The Real-Time Academy Of Short Form Arts & Sciences where she judges the Social Good prize at the Shorty Awards. She also serves on the Advisory Board of The Pivot Conference, which investigates technology's impact on business.
Shivika spent nearly a decade in strategy, growth acceleration and marketing for global consumer brands. Previously, she was Director of Digital at Alex and Ani, and led marketing and growth for organizations like Oscar de la Renta, Gap Inc/Intermix. She has advised Fortune 500 companies such as Kraft Foods, Macy's, Target, HSN, and FedEx on marketing and digital strategies via Epsilon.
Shivika and her work have been featured in TechCrunch, Huffington Post, Fair Observer, Forbes and other publications. She holds a M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University and was raised in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh and United States.
How did you get to where you are today?
My journey was long and transformative. It included a trip to NASA and 10 days of meditation in silence. I conducted countless hours of conversations with people from disparate backgrounds, endless research and journaling, and a lot of soul-searching. The journey grounded my values that were forged during a global upbringing in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and the United States. It reminded me of my earliest experiences: like donating all my pocket money to a beggar in Zimbabwe, working with UNICEF in rural Bangladesh, volunteering at an orphanage in Vietnam, and much more. Graced with inspiration from NASA, conversations with social entrepreneurs across the country, stillness from Vipassana meditation and extensive research, my vision and mission began to crystallize.
I also sifted the inspiration I draw from my family. My father is a pioneer in impact investing and my uncle trailblazers the quality of and access to education globally. My grandfather dedicated his life to soil conservation and was a renowned environmentalist. Another uncle was an economist who fought against poverty.
Today, my work lies at the intersection of conscious capitalism, mindful consumerism, business and technology. I left my decade-long career to pursue a legacy of positive change and purposefulness for future generations.
Did you have a pivotal moment in your life?
On a hot afternoon in New Delhi, I sat under the shade of a tree with my grandfather, who had recently turned 90. He was one of the wisest, smartest and genuine-hearted people I knew. I sought his advice on living a fulfilling, purpose-driven life. I had spent nearly a decade in guiding strategy and accelerating growth for some of the world’s most recognizable brands. I had followed my passions in an open-hearted pursuit of living a meaningful life, but I wanted to find true purpose. My grandfather simply stated that "one should never wait until they are rich enough or have enough time to be of use." Thereafter, I embarked on a journey to use my skills to alleviate humanity’s greatest crises.
My grandfather’s challenge to be useful echoed during a long journey to find my purpose. My leap to becoming an entrepreneur was intentional, pursued and fought for.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
All my failures have taught me that you only fail when you fail to learn. A fear of failure is a signal that you’re headed out of your comfort zone into something that will help you grow to your greatest potential. Success and failure are two sides of the same coin. They’re both signals that tell you which way to go, listen to them but don’t dwell on them. We set ourselves free when we embrace failures and obstacles and use them to grow.
Identifying a single toughest obstacle is challenging because there have been so many. I’ve been underestimated, overlooked or dismissed so often that I’ve lost count. I’ve been told I need to decrease the scope of my ambition and that my dreams for humanity and business should be left up to others. Had I listened, I would have never started The Veneka Group, shared my views on conscious consumerism’s power to reshape business via my TEDx Talk, or embarked on this journey, which is among the greatest adventures of my life.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
It's important to cultivate a growth mindset, passion and intellectual rigor to seek out first principles. I push myself to stay grounded in my vision, values and priorities. I set goals and hold myself accountable to them. I strive for excellence in my process of how I work, not just perfection in my outputs.
I meditate daily, work with single-minded focus and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I keep a gratitude journal and also use writing as a tool to let my subconscious loose, think creatively and challenge myself.
What advice do you have for another person who is looking to start a new venture?
Find the intersection between your skills, passions or interests, and what humanity needs. In this space you’ll find ikigai - a Japanese phrase that translates to ‘reason for being.’ Finding this space doesn’t come overnight and requires dedicated effort in inward and outward exploration. Start your journey as soon as possible.
How do we get more women leaders?
I believe we get more women leaders by pushing ourselves to be better women leaders, and supporting women along their journeys. The energy I receive from my mentors and friends inspires me to keep going each day. I’m always overjoyed and honored when I can pass the same guidance and friendship to others. Perpetuating the cycle of support to other passionate individuals is privilege we should cherish.