Ruchika Sikri Built Google's Mindfulness Program. On Sabatigo, She'll Build Yours.
Ruchika Sikri is that person who strikes her friends and co-workers as the rarest sort of soul. It may be that she gives the generous gift of grounding without trying. Or perhaps it's her unmistakably genuine air of being deeply grateful for other people, always. Whatever the reason, Ruchika has walked a dignified path of service-leadership not just as a long-time Google executive but everywhere she goes now. Our excitement at Sabatigo to have her join our co-creation story as one of our Yoga and Mindfulness Disruptors is almost beyond measure.
Sabatigoers will feel her peaceful and relaxed energy when they walk and talk with Ruchika. Just as they will in her guided meditations and Yoga practice. But it wasn't always this way. Though she grew-up in India where spirituality was all around her, she was not raised to be deeply contemplative. Rather she learned to find the dignity in work and to respect who people were at their core. From her cherished grandmother's exemplary work ethic to the values she learned at home, Ruchika left home for university already knowing how to auger a pathway to success that wouldn't stay from authenticity and integrity.
The Discovery Mindset
Coming to Google with a relatively fresh degree in Business, she started her career as an HR analyst. As her experience at Google deepened, she moved closer to the leadership development side of the organization. Her focus eventually fixed on helping top-talent leaders navigate the pathway toward distinction as managers.
I realized people weren’t necessarily feeling rewarded by getting promoted or getting a higher salary at the end of the day.
Learning and the exciting sense of discovery were parts of her own identity that she treasured. Google's culture of growth meant that these moments of wonder could be built into customized leadership development experiences. For Ruchika and her team members, it was a special accomplishment to see that a heightened sense of community was another tangible outcome of the innovations they were bringing to leadership development.
Taught by her grandmother that the best teachers were also the best pupils, Ruchika widened her career path to achieve an MS in Organizational Development. And as she continued to create and deliver high-impact learning experiences for Google leaders, she kept asking bigger questions about where motivation, authenticity and balance belong in a serious consideration of human capital sustainability. The signs were everywhere she looked: people burned out who couldn't replenish themselves.
I saw a notice about meditation sessions at lunchtime and thought, ok I can try it. We gathered in a conference room and honestly if was about 25 minutes of total awkwardness for me. But I felt something. And it just began from that simple start.
From that humble start, she went on to develop a Mindfulness program at Google that's became the envy of large corporations everywhere. As Lead of Well-Being Learning, Ruchika built an army of mindfulness champions to carry a message of regeneration, balance and gratitude to more than 100,000 Googleers. For Google, the ROI has been fantastic. Higher levels of employee engagement, resiliency, and sustainability have flowed from the success of her service-leadership.
Her family taught Ruchika to read the signs of life. When the pandemic came to her family and left them all stricken, she had an epiphany of sorts. One morning after she'd gone to sleep feeling ill, she woke up feeling better, as did her family. And she decided then to follow her heart and make mindfulness and gratitude her professional future. And just like that, Google became her past.
Our planning Zooms with Ruchika have been an utter joy. Full of expansive ideas for how to make mindfulness and yoga feel truly special for her Sabatigoers, she remains ever the passion-person for collaboration. She can't wait to meet Dr. Darren Bernal in person, whom she will be working with on Sabatigo. And Dr. Brady Yocom, who will be on her team, too:
Darren and Brady have taken his journey through so much clinical and academic work. That's so exciting for our travelers and it is amazing for me, personally, to relish as well. He already knows the best parks in Paris and Berlin to meditate in. And Brady has spent so much time abroad, too. When it's sunny and fair, we can find gorgeous parks for meditation and yoga. If it's cloudy and rainy, we will build the tempest into our practice. The Sabatigoers are so lucky. I am so lucky.
One final note she wanted to add about her plans for Yoga abroad:
It's not my goal to convert Sabatigoers into pretzels. What I want is for our travelers to breathe the air of these great and dynamic cities. As their energies settle into the grass of our special parks and their bodies open to let in the flow of that forever energy we all can lose in our normal lives.
Sabatigo can't wait to have Ruchika bring her powerful grace, gratitude and perspective to our journey. Our Sabartigoers will know in their hearts and bodies what a true regeneration journey feels like after they walk the mindfulness pathway with this gifted and spirited disruptor.