When Ritu Bhasin’s mother was growing up in India in the 1960s, she dreamed of becoming a lawyer. That dream ended when her mother told her firmly that women couldn’t be lawyers. She became a teacher instead. Many years later, Bhasin had the same dream. Thanks to perseverance and strong support from her family, she achieved it.
It wasn’t always easy. Growing up as a Sikh in southern Ontario, Bhasin knew the sting of bullying and racism. She decided at an early age to study law as a way of addressing issues of rights and social justice. “One of my favourite moments ever was walking across the stage to receive my degree from Western,” she says. “I was so proud of myself, and so excited about the possibilities that lay ahead of me.”
For a decade, Bhasin worked for a large Bay Street firm, first as a lawyer and later in the area of talent management. After completing an Executive MBA at the University of Toronto, she launched her own consulting company, which helps organizations in the areas of leadership development, diversity and advancement of women. “When I was at the firm, I got calls all the time asking for advice on these issues,” she says. “I got to the point where I decided I should be doing it for a living!”
More recently, Bhasin launched Mivoko, an online guide to name pronunciation. “People naturally avoid those whose names are difficult to pronounce, so having a difficult name has an adverse impact on career advancement and the development of social connections,” she explains. “Mivoko addresses that pain point for companies and individuals.”
Today, Bhasin says she is committed to living an “authentic life” through her work and personal life. “I want to serve and live with honour and integrity,” she says. “I am committed to goodness and making a difference in other peoples’ lives. I have found the purpose of my life.”
In 2013, Bhasin was awarded the Young Alumni Award of Merit by Western's alumni association.
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