Reeti Roy’s impressive CV might make you mistake her for someone serious but she is anything but that. With her infectious laughter, easy demeanor, and candor, she oozes the chilled-girl next door vibe. It doesn’t mean that she minces her words or shies away from taking a stand for what she truly believes in-the embodiment of a true feminist.
How many of us have struggled while writing our resume? But now Reeti Roy’s Aglet Ink provides you with solutions. This former LAMP (Legislative Assistant to Member of Parliament) to Dr Shashi Tharoor, parliamentarian and author, has grown in leaps and bounds. This overachiever has created a niche for herself as a female entrepreneur and a maverick in the content service industry.
Reeti is someone who believes that progress is based on teamwork and individual success should stand for collective good. Always ready to teach, Reeti Roy is a perpetual learner. She considers Dr Tharoor, Gaia’s co-founder Amrita Chowdhury, Anamara Baig, the CEO of EmpowHer Foundation (who managed Reeti while she was at Pratham Education Foundation), and Anjali Raina, Director of Harvard Business School’s India Research Centre as her esteemed mentors.
An introvert, Reeti is a bibliophile, her favourite authors being Kazuo Ishiguro, Maya Angelou, Mahasweta Devi and Haruki Murakami. She likes unwinding with her family, listening to great music and reading as widely as possible.
This charismatic young lady believes that she is a sum of the myriad places that she has visited both professionally and egged on by the wanderlust in her. This has also led her to be a tour guide, conducting art walks all across Bombay and working with Seeksherpa as well as conducting the Sahapedia-UNESCO art walks for two years in a row- an unusual career choice!
The Voice of Woman had a freewheeling conversation with Aglet Ink’s Reeti Roy to understand her journey and struggle in setting her own company and her life-altering experience as a LAMP. She is magnanimous enough to share her professional tip in building your perfect CV for our readers.
Read on to find out more.
Can you talk about your professional journey prior to starting Aglet Ink?
I am 31 years old. I was born and brought up in Calcutta and have a B.A. (Honours) from Jadavpur University and MSc (Social Anthropology) London School of Economics and Political Science.
I was chosen as one of 40 young Indians to assist Members of Parliament in a unique initiative called the Legislative Assistant to Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship. I was assistant to Dr Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development and was responsible for Parliamentary Legislative Research such as 377s and zero-hour speeches.
Upon completion of my Fellowship, I have worked with Pratham Education Foundation, where I worked as a Communications and International Donor Liaison Associate. I have worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School’s India Research Centre.
At the HBS India Research Centre, I have co-authored a case on BRAC, the largest non-governmental organization in Bangladesh and been the first member of the team at the India Research Centre to establish relationships in Bangladesh. I have also worked with Columbia University’s Global Centre in Mumbai and with the UNICEF.
Additionally, I am also a writer and have written for The Telegraph (Calcutta), The Statesman (Calcutta), The Times of India, Femina, Tehelka, Chicken Soup for The Indian Soul and Northern Lights (an Edinburgh Publication), Newslaundry and Mail Today.
Tell us about your start-up. How did you come up with this idea?
The word ‘Aglet’ means a small metal or plastic sheath, which is typically used on each end of a shoelace, cord or drawstring. ‘Ink’ is a play on the word incorporated. Aglet Ink was born when we realized that many professionals had the required qualifications, but were unable to present themselves well on paper and express themselves through their cover letter.
As the resume and cover letter is usually the first point of contact, it could be a ‘make or break’ situation for the thousands of prospective job hunters. Each CV and cover letter is carefully handcrafted and we get to know the person, the sector they are applying to, and their strengths and weaknesses. If they have gaps in their CVs, we also help them understand how they can represent their time off as a strength, rather than a weakness.
Our clients have ranged from CEOs and COOs in top multinationals to mid-career professionals wanting an update of their CVs and also small-start-ups, NGOs and various large organisations. We also work very closely with school and college students, who are looking to write essays and want guidance on structure and format.
Aglet Ink is a full-service creative content services firm and offers the following services- resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, strategizing for interviews, training teams on how to leverage and use social media to build their brands, providing speaking points for high profile speakers, assisting in research. We are also open to collaborating on interesting projects. We are also open to interesting and exciting collaborations.
Aglet Ink has helped over 10,000 people, both through direct work as well as indirect resources that were shared pro-bono through my LinkedIn profile and featured by Linkedin Learning.
An incredible body of work can go unnoticed without a proper representation through a well-etched out CV, can you share a few tips?
The notion of a ‘perfect’ resume is subjective. It depends on your industry, your years of
work experience and whether you will use it for academic or non-academic purposes. An academic resume can be 5-6 pages long whereas an industry-related resume must be 1-3 pages.
Here are some pointers that one can keep in mind:
1. Tailor your resume, but keep a master document with all of your previous positions and accomplishments listed.
2. Allude to your latest work first, and then list your jobs in reverse chronological order, but feel free to deviate and make changes when necessary. Say you have taken a break for personal reasons, and your second last job stint is more prominent. List that first.
3. Ensure that your resume and Linkedin profile complement each other. They should not read the same.
4. For your work experience, whittle it down to the most important points. The more quantifiable, the better.
5. Your responsibilities matter, but so do your achievements. Use this opportunity to demonstrate not just what was asked of you, but also what you ended up achieving in each role.
6. Do not skip non-traditional work experience on your resume. If the work experience has taught you valuable things, make sure you highlight those.
7. Avoid putting polarizing interests on your resume. You may have spent your summer campaigning or canvassing for a certain political candidate. This could be reflective of a very strong work ethic, but if the organization does not align with your political beliefs, this could be held against you. If you still feel strongly, put it in your resume but be aware of the consequences.
Dr Shashi Tharoor is known as an erudite individual; tell us about the incredible experience of working with him and your experiences as a LAMP fellow.
I worked with Dr Shashi Tharoor as his Legislative Assistant in the year 2012-2013. A Legislative Assistant to a Member of Parliament (a more commonly used acronym would be LAMP) is typically a young Indian with a keen interest in Public Policy and Government Legislation.
An initiative of PRS Legislative Research, the LAMP Fellowship places fellows with Members of Parliament across different parties. A fellow’s individual political ideology or preference is not taken into account when they are placed with Members of Parliament.
I first met Dr Tharoor at his office in Lodhi Estate. Priya Thachadi Soman, who was Manager of the LAMP fellows that year, accompanied me there. I remember Dr Tharoor looking at my CV and saying, “My dear, you have excellent credentials. Keep it up.” I was extremely nervous when I had walked into the office with Priya, and his assuring words assuaged my fears.
In my mind, I knew I would enjoy working with Dr Tharoor. I had a keen interest in writing, and he was a celebrated writer. I was interested in Refugee issues, and he had acquired a wealth of knowledge during his time at the UNHCR.
There was also synergy in terms of our beliefs- we both believe that the way forward for India is if its people are secular and liberal. Impinging on other people’s social freedoms is something that he thinks is unacceptable, as do I.
But most importantly, I remember walking into his office several times during lunch break to answer a question only to find him asking me, “ Did you see that brilliant six? Absolutely Spectacular!” Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I have probably not missed watching a cricket match since age nine. I discovered to my delight that my first ever Boss also shared the same love for the game.
What I liked most about Dr Tharoor was that he seemed to have time for everyone, even school students who landed up at his doorstep without prior notice and asked him for an hour of his time to interview him for a school project.
I remember someone reaching out to him on Twitter, telling him about a new social business that he had started. After a couple of twitter exchanges, the young man asked Dr Tharoor if he was willing to meet. Despite his incredibly busy schedule, Dr Tharoor took out time for the young man, listened to him patiently and gave him valuable advice for his time.
Dr Tharoor is truly someone who cares about people- “What are people’s motivations? Why do people think the way they do? What drives them?” Perhaps it is this side to him that makes him a writer. He is a good listener, and unlike many people in power who cut off their juniors’ sentences even before they can complete it, Dr Tharoor listens patiently. He is also extremely forthcoming in his views, even though he is very nice about it.
On my first ever assignment, I made a very major mistake. The mistake I had made was due to a lack of understanding of how the Parliamentary System works, in practice. Dr Tharoor came back from Parliament, sat down with me and explained where exactly I had gone wrong. He was firm with me but extremely polite. That was true of my entire year of working with him. When I went wrong, he told me where exactly I went wrong, and when I did well, he encouraged me and pushed me to do even better.
Over the year, I helped Dr Tharoor with many assignments including one where I helped him draft a response to someone who wrote to him saying, “ Feminists will ruin the country!” I distinctly remember the response: “The only thing Feminists are attempting to do is to bring about equality in this country.” It was heartening to see a male politician, not taking potshots at a woman for a change.
I learnt many things from Dr Tharoor during my year as his assistant- how any research conducted must be thorough and how sources must be double-checked; How everything one writes must be backed up by solid research and how to remain cheerful and smiling even after a very tiring day.
When I graduated from the Fellowship, Dr Tharoor was present to give me my award. The next day, I opened my twitter account to see that Dr Tharoor, with his characteristic wit, had put up a picture of me with him saying, “Thanks Reeti, for all your help to enlighten me as my LAMP!”
You have lived and worked in various cities across the world- how have your travels shaped your views?
I grew up in Calcutta and spent my formative years in London, Edinburgh, Delhi and Bombay. Each city taught me different things. My linguistic proficiency is largely due to my first degree in English Literature, and my school (Modern High School) which laid great emphasis on the humanities and the social sciences.
Culturally, we were exposed to a lot of art, literature and theatre growing up and an affinity towards the arts enables you to be creative and have an entrepreneurial streak from very early on in life.
Running a business from scratch at a macro level is quite similar to fundraising for a school play on a shoestring budget, so those values and those skills were inculcated in me from very early own. London taught me to be disciplined and rigorous in my research, while Delhi and Bombay were the cities where I cut my teeth on professional endeavours.
Being young and being a female, is often seen as inconducive to becoming a successful entrepreneur- can you recount the challenges that you faced?
The important thing to remember here is to have an unwavering belief in yourself, and have an unflappable support system. The people around you matter. When chips are down, they are the ones who will help you through the storm. I am incredibly fortunate to have had great mentors, and some incredible family members and friends who have been there for me unfailingly.
Not everyone will understand what you do, and that is okay too. I genuinely believe that your job is to keep focussing on bettering yourself and navigating the world. Don’t spend time convincing and persuading. Focus on your own work.
Feminism is often misunderstood and misrepresented- what according to you is the real essence of being a feminist?
The fact that we can use our voice and vote is a direct consequence of Feminism. So, frankly, in 2020, it’s downright ridiculous to undermine the merits of feminism and feminist thoughts.
Who are your feminist icons and role models?
Maya Angelou, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and closer home Maheshweta Debi, Reetika Khera and Nandini Sundar.
What drives you? What is your purpose?
My narrative has always had issues of human rights, specifically indigenous peoples and social justice at its core. While I do not quite consider myself a successful person- I believe that I have a very long way to go before I can be called that-I do believe that my work with socially disadvantaged people began while I was in Calcutta, working in collaboration with the Seagull Foundation for the arts and Writeherewritenow.
I have worked with young people who lived in slums, and were first-generation learners while working as a Creative Writing fellow with Seagull, and worked with children of Asylum Seekers and helped them with their homework and aided them in understanding their rights and legislation at the Refugee Council in the U.K.
While working on these projects, I realised that education and healthcare are the core areas that need to be addressed if broken systems need to be healed.I have co-authored a case on BRAC, one of Bangladesh’s largest NGOs, and have written pieces on Education Policy for Newslaundry, as well as a publication for the Times Guide to Higher Education.
So far I have received several accolades for my work: The Charles Wallace, The Matador Network Travel Writing Fellowship, the LAMP fellowship, The Choice Fellowship from Seagull Foundation, The Grassroutes Fellowship for Social Impact, The Estah Society Award for helping first-generation Farming Communities, The Goethe-Institut/Zubaan Books Fellowship, The Young Achiever’s Award from Vision India Foundation for Contribution to Education and Nation Building, The Digital Media Awards from Shethepeople TV for innovation in creative content, one of Outlook Business Magazine’s Eighteen Women of Worth, a young writer’s award from Scribescratch, 2nd place in EShe Magazine for the visibility of Women Writers, an honourable mention in the Biopage Storytelling contest.
What message would you like to share with women entrepreneurs through the Voice of Woman?
Learn every single day, from every single person. Either learn what to do, or what not to do. Hustle and be consistent in the quality of your services. No matter what, do not compromise on the quality of your services/ products.