ApplyBoardian Q&A: Meet Raj Uttamchandani, Chief People Officer

A screenshot from Rajesh Uttamchandani's ApplyBoardian Q&A interview.

Next up in our ApplyBoardian Q&A Series is the one and only Rajesh Uttamchandani. He joined ApplyBoard earlier this year as our Chief People Officer, bringing with him more than 30 years of operational, legal, human resources, and risk management experience. In his role, Raj ensures that: 

  1. The ApplyBoard team is rowing in the same direction on our mission to Educate the World.
  2. Each team member knows how what they do feeds into that mission.
  3. ApplyBoardians know that they’re not only here to do great work, but also to learn and grow themselves. 

Our chat with Raj is filled with insights and knowledge—you won’t want to miss it, so keep reading and watch the video below.

Please note that Raj’s answers have been edited for brevity.

Why ApplyBoard Stood Out from the Crowd

As a deeply experienced people and culture professional, Raj was clear on his workplace wishlist. While looking for his next role, three things topped his list. “One, a company that did something amazing in the world. Two, a company that was global and headquartered out of Canada. And three, a company that was growing, that was changing, and one where I felt I could have a lot of impact.” For Raj, ApplyBoard checked all of those boxes.  

When asked what makes ApplyBoard’s culture so unique, Raj didn’t hesitate answering that it’s the way our mission shapes our company culture. “A lot of people at ApplyBoard are attracted to what we do, our mission,” explained Raj. “And so for me, that brings together an amazing group of people focused on doing something great in the world.” At ApplyBoard, we’re building a future where anyone, anywhere has access to the best education, regardless of where they were born. And that unique mission unites a strong team dedicated to making a positive global impact. 

Learn how Caitlin Quigley, Accounts Receivable Analyst, is dedicated to our core value of Taking Ownership.

A photo of Rajesh Uttamchandani, Meti Basiri, and David Borecky at Canada HQ.

Left to right: Raj, Meti Basiri, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, and David Borecky, Chief Financial Officer, took a moment to snap a picture at Canada HQ back in March.

How to Employ Better Negotiation Skills

In addition to leading ApplyBoard’s People and Culture Team, Raj teaches a negotiation course in a master’s program at the University of Toronto. So, we were eager to take the opportunity to ask him how we can employ better negotiation skills in our day-to-day lives. Most people think of negotiation in terms of buying a car or a house. But negotiation happens all the time in all areas of our lives, and the reality is many of us don’t adequately prepare for it. Want to up your negotiation game? Well, get ready to take notes because Raj shared some great pointers.

If you’re going into a situation that may require negotiation, whether that’s a discussion with your partner or manager, you should always prepare beforehand. Raj shared that “when you prepare and think about it for a few minutes, it’s important to understand not only what the other person’s position is, but what their want is behind that position.” He then used an example to illustrate this point. “If someone says, ‘I want money,’ money is the position, but you want to look behind the money to their interests, which is what they want to use the money for.” This is why it’s crucial to your negotiating efforts to spend time exploring not just what people are saying, but what they really want behind it.

A common question Raj gets in his negotiating course is what to do when there’s an impasse. An impasse can occur when two separate parties want two different things—and neither are willing to change. The answer? Add variables. Say one person wants steak for dinner and the other wants sushi. Raj would urge the negotiating parties to add variables to the discussion, like drinks, desserts, movie choices, and where to go out for dinner next time. He explained that “by adding four more variables, the odds of them coming up with a combination that satisfies both parties is much higher.” 

Be sure to use these tips in your next negotiation session for a more favourable outcome.

Find out how ApplyBoardians Kara Zhang and Ian McRae embody our core value of Delivering an A+ Customer Experience.

ApplyBoard would not be able to make strides towards our mission to Educate the World without team members like Raj. Thank you to Raj and the entire People & Culture Team for their efforts to foster a positive work environment where all ApplyBoardians across the globe thrive!

Interested in joining ApplyBoard? Take a peek at our open roles on the ApplyBoard Careers page!