Bakul Gupta, co-founder of ImmTune Therapies, shares her coaching experience

Posted on: 22/10/2021
Bakul Gupta Portrait

'What did I get from coaching? Confidence, flexible communication skills and an appreciation of the value in taking time out to reflect. Resulting in better personal and professional relationships and more successful and comfortable pitching to investors.'

Dr Bakul Gupta writes:

As a first-time founder in a sector heavily dominated by experts with decades of experience, I did not feel confident pitching for investment and wasn’t sure I was presenting the vision of my company effectively. I felt this impacted the credibility of not just the founding team, but also our science, which to any scientist can be quite overpowering.

Our innovative technology will make cell-based treatments accessible to the masses as it dramatically reduces the cost of these treatments and the burden on patients. But if I failed to convince the key stakeholders that we were worth investing in, all our hard work could be for nothing.

To overcome these challenges, I thought of exploring two options available to me at the time – coaching and mentoring. Luckily, I received an email from KTN offering coaching sessions from experienced coaches to the Women in Innovation community. I had never been ‘coached’ before, so I took this opportunity to explore what it meant and how it could help me.

The first session with Mary was fantastic. We discussed a few things which ranged from personal introductions, to how coaching differs from mentoring, and therapy, etc., and how it might help me.

Over the next few monthly sessions, we made a deeper dive into the key obstacles I was facing (or I perceived I was being faced with).

Mary asked me questions that helped me reflect and change the way I was thinking about certain things.

I’m now more comfortable when people don’t react in the way I expect them to. Additionally, I ask questions so I can understand their perspective, and I think about how to respond in a way that they will understand. I interact with a lot of people who have little or no idea about the technology we are developing so now, when I make a person outside our field understand it, I know I’ve done a good job at explaining what we do! It feels like an accomplishment.

I no longer feel like I have to know everything and have all the answers. I have reached out for help and have actually seen a very positive response to opening up and saying where we need help. Rather than feeling the pressure of marketing and selling, I now enjoy talking about our work and vision with a diverse audience, and I know we are the right team to deliver it.

The outcomes of these sessions have not only benefited our business, and the interactions at work, but also my own personal relationships.

As a result of these sessions, I have grown comfortable with asking for feedback, while being confident of my own strengths and accepting that there are certain gaps I need to fill going forward.

Most importantly, these sessions have helped me cut out the negativity and self-doubt that came with an unsuccessful outcome and have provided me with tools to better manage my actions in such situations.

The three key takeaways from my coaching sessions are:

1. Effective communication is critical for success (both at professional and personal levels)
2. Understanding the motivation behind what drives people is important for effective teamwork
3. Reflecting on your thoughts and experiences from time to time is important for understanding the gaps, and realising your own potential (and limitations)

Mary has been an incredible coach, and a great sounding board for me during a time when there were a lot of surprises and extreme uncertainty for the growth of our business. I am very glad to have been matched with her via the KTN process, and I hope I continue to apply the lessons learnt as part of our 6-month journey.

Find out more about ImmTune Therapies here.

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