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Nonconformity in Action: Key Takeaways from the Life of Global Tech Executive Henna Karna

Who says you can’t be passionate about multiple aspects of life?

Exploring unique opportunities and embracing diverse experiences can shape our interests, allowing us to develop a broad skill set that paves the way for tremendous success. Many accomplished individuals build their careers on multidisciplinary expertise, refusing to confine their creativity to a single path.

Henna Karna, a high-tech expert, exemplifies the power of a varied skill set and a non-linear approach to both personal and professional life. Her objective mindset has brought fluidity and flexibility to her journey, leading to extraordinary achievements.

“I always enjoyed the feedback from others about being a ‘nonconformist’. I considered it a compliment when we choose to be nontypical or untraditional by choice – with purpose and reason,” shared Henna.

Henna’s educational background mirrors her commitment to expanding horizons. In addition to earning a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, she pursued her passion for technology by obtaining a degree in Computer Science as well. She further explored her interest in mathematical sciences with a Master’s and a Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. Her thirst for knowledge didn’t stop there; she later earned an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Just as her educational career is a tapestry of varied experiences, Henna’s professional journey has been diverse as well.

Henna shared that her first jobs were that of a knot theorist-wood carver and a stint at Burger King, but her career kickstarted with a desire to give back to society as a mathematics teacher. She experimented with non-traditional teaching techniques like wearing roller skates and writing with her left hand to engage her students on a human-to-human level. Henna refused to be confined to a single textbook, instead connecting the subject matter to real-life events familiar to her students, thus maintaining their interest in the subject. In the evenings, Henna taught MBA Statistics at Babson College and contributed to research projects for the government.

Later, Henna transitioned to the corporate world, starting as an actuarial associate and steadily progressing toward prominent positions, including Executive Vice President and Chief Data Officer at AXA XL and GM, MD at Google Cloud. She has been serving on the board of directors for innovative firms like the Essent Group and The @ Company, where she plays a pivotal role in shaping their tech and digital futures.

Her approach aligns with the notion of finding the latest, novel solutions and keeping up with the inventive developments in data analytics and assorted technology. She reflects on the multi-dimensional nature of her career, “Analytics and technology are the most consistent part of my career but the more time I spent in the risk management industry, the more I realized that the joy of work is not to be siloed in one area, but to apply learnings across an ecosystem. I am passionate about bringing together a multitude of capabilities across companies, or maybe even across industries – to bridge connection points that help us leverage our ecosystem. We all benefit from thinking outside-in and a healthy dose of co-opetition.”

As a seasoned tech entrepreneur, Henna greatly emphasizes team building to maximize workplace productivity. Her nonconformist approach has benefited her colleagues and team members alike. She strives to create an environment that nurtures the unique potential of each individual. Henna, reflecting on her leadership style, shares an important insight, “When it comes to my leadership style, it’s the individuality of each person that I really focus on. I don’t try to change anyone but rather optimize what they bring to the table. It is easier said than done. Sometimes we appreciate what we understand (what we find familiar) more than admire what might challenge or change our thinking. However, to really get the right outcome, diversity of thoughts is the strength to lean on.”

Before serving the corporate sector, Henna also enjoyed modeling for brand names like Calvin Klein and was crowned Miss. India New England and Mrs. India International 1st runner-up. She has an adventurous, adrenaline-filled life as she enjoys racing cars, designing gamification concepts, and flying helicopters.

For Henna, life is a journey of accumulating new experiences and utilizing her skills to their fullest potential, with the aim of creating a lasting impact for future generations. Her optimistic outlook on challenges and unwavering passion for innovative technology have made her an inspirational leader, entrepreneur, and role model for women and men alike.

Alice Jacqueline is a creative writer. Alice is the best article author, social media, and content marketing expert. Alice is a writer by day and ready by night. Find her on Twitter and on Facebook!

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