When Kavitha Bindra applied to WLP as a college student, there had only been 1-2 classes that had gone through the program. In her words, “at the time, young people of South Asian descent were just beginning to realize the potential for political engagement as a collective force, and WLP was one of the first programs to tap into this new energy.” She decided to apply because she felt that WLP was an opportunity to have a Capitol Hill experience and a chance to develop a strong network including both friends and business contacts, political companions as well as “political sparring partners” that would last a lifetime.
Bindra believes that her work with Representative James McGovern (D-MA) as an intern, and later with former-HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson at Deloitte Consulting, helped her to become exposed to using networks to further policy goals. She felt that though the realization was a bit disheartening, it was enlightening and empowering to realize that it is not always the best, or most helpful, policy that makes it to the table. Bindra says that these experiences helped her learn that “influencing policy is all about the relationships you cultivate across your career.”
Bindra herself has considered running for public office and has held leadership roles in corporate and non-profit organizations. Her near-future goals consist of “refining [her] relationship-building and deal-making skills.” After college, she worked as a management consultant on healthcare strategy and operations space for Deloitte and then as a direct manager at both payer and provider organizations, such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Recently, Bindra has left this industry and moved into the field of higher education. Currently, she serves as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Yale School of Management. Bindra graduated from the same program in 2005. In her words, “this new role allows me to focus 100% on the activities I've loved the most in all of my jobs: recruiting, coaching, and mentoring. I feel so lucky to have fun every day at my job!”
Bindra cites strong women figures such as Sheryl Sandberg and Nikki Haley as her role models. She believes in the importance of maintaining a work-life balance and states that these women understand that struggle and face it every day themselves. She states that Sandberg and Haley are honest about the difficulty of both their careers and family life, but still try to excel and be the best at both. These women inspire her to also try to do her best both in her work-life and at home.
She also states that her husband Ranjit, a radiation oncologist at Yale, inspires her due to his work-life balance. As she states, Ranjit “is the most supportive partner I could have asked for…his energy and positive attitude are truly aspirational.” Kavitha and Ranjit have one four-year-old daughter.
Bindra’s leadership roles in her public service career are truly admirable, both in the healthcare and higher education fields. In her opinion, the South Asian American community is engaged in the political process, but could do even better. She cites policy leaders like Rajiv Shah and Aneesh Chopra as leaders both in the political world and in the South Asian American community. Furthermore, she applauds the manifestation of the political force of the South Asian American community in advocacy groups, such as AAPI, but states that the next step is electing South Asian-Americans to office in larger numbers. Bindra states, “I would love to see our community focus on this next crucial step.”