From Strength to Strength

From strength to strength

Leadership coaching and mentoring is one of the many passions Deepa and Milind share. The sheer joy in helping people ‘be more’ drives us. There is a thrill in watching people fly effortlessly.

Deepa discovered Neuroleadership through David Rock’s body of work through the Leadership Coaching course she attended at IIM Bangalore in early 2016. ‘Your Brain At Work’, ‘Quiet Leadership’ were powerful when we started studying and applying this in our work. We got ourselves a lot of practice in helping the coaches arrive at the ‘Dance of Insight’. We felt like we had found the Holy Grail and we shared it widely.

Milind started scouting for options in courses and programs in coaching and liked the sound of the Gallup Coaching program. He got himself certified in October 2016. We were in Singapore on a business trip when we first took the Strength Finder assessment.

Deepa was certain that her top-5 talent themes would be Discipline, Focus, Communication, Responsibility and Analytical. Her report threw her off!  She was disappointed to read Input, Intellection, Strategic, Learner, Activator. She was baffled. ‘With over a 1000 friends on Facebook, someone who had successfully delivered research and consulting projects over 20 years, how can my report say I have no relationship themes and no execution themes?’

Coaching conversations with Milind and self-reflection helped Deepa ‘claim’ her talents. Working on her talents was hard but getting feedback and seeing results made it fun. Strategies to hold her runaway Activator from running amok helped, and the team found her scribbling on a notepad rather than butting and bulldozing her way into presentations.

In December, the Lumière leadership and core teams took the Strengths assessment. Individual inputs and work followed. In Feb 2017 Milind and Deepa facilitated a Strengths appreciation workshop for the Lumière team.

Team members were encouraged to listen to the engaging and powerful ‘Gallup Theme Thursdays’ podcasts on individual strengths. The team were discussing their weekly progress at home and at work. Terms like ‘balconies’ and ‘basements’ and ‘love’, ‘envy’, ‘crazy’ started to be heard. The ‘strengths language’ was becoming a part of the organisation lexicon. The Lumière team’s investment in their talents is helping them convert their talents to strengths.

On the 6th and 7th October 2017, exactly a year from when we first got introduced to the Strengths tool, Deepa and Milind conducted a two day-long workshop in Dubai.

Participants who had some exposure to the Strengths philosophy, and who had their top 5 talents reports, wanted to know HOW to use their strengths. An 8-hour workshop with individual and activities in team syndicates helped participants get an appreciation for their strengths. An outside-in activity where the individual gets feedback is an eye-opener.

The mere idea that ones ‘weaknesses’ are nothing but ‘basements’ to one talents is hugely liberating and empowering. And mindfully using our talents helps to convert these to strengths. Writing down ones road map for the next one month, three months, one year, three years and five years is hard work. We don’t have the time in our everyday lives to ask these hard questions.

We need to have trust in the process. There are no shortcuts but the results are certain. Once the right ingredients of awareness and mindful application come together, our strengths get ‘baked’ in the oven of practice. Learning to discover insights, make small and big shifts in the way we think and act and get good outcomes is liberating.

~ Deepa & Milind Soman

1992 - 1996
1997 - 2001
2001 - 2007
2013 - 2019


Deepa starts working at Hindustan Unilever Ltd., and after working there for a few years decides to take a career break to take care of her son. The family plans to move to Jamaica, and she wishes to resume working. There are not a lot of opportunities post a career break for her, and this makes her realise the plight of women all across the world who are trying to resume working after taking a break. The seed for Lumière is planted. Deepa joins J.A. Young Research Ltd. to get back to her roots, and ultimately decides to start her own firm under her CA's advise.



Start of Lumière Consultancy in Jamaica



The family is aching to return to India, and post the birth of her second child, Deepa gets an offer from HUL to rejoin them. She has an itch to make it on her own, and so declines. This results in a different type of engagement between the two, and Lumière engages exclusively with HUL by expanding their scope. Deepa builds a stronghold in consumer behavior, and Lumière develops into an entity of its own. Inception of 'Consumer Centricity', which is their future key to strength, begins. With an expansion in their work, they need more resources and a group of like-minded talented professional women to join the team. Lumière gives them solace, a place to grow, rebuild their careers, and achieve goals beyond their expectations. They begin with mentoring initiatives, with an urge to inspire young individuals. People approach them through word-of-mouth, references, and to create opportunities beyong market research, Lumière becomes a Pvt. Ltd. company.



An opportunity arises to be a part of something big, to analyse the growth mindset and the creation of a best practice document for sequential recycling. Lumière makes an impact across categories and branches into Product Testing and Category Creation.



Lumière touches ₹ 1 crore. Their brochure is presented at MRSI. The company turns 10, and Milind joins the team as an observer. This becomes the phase of Lumière's upheavel: from scaling up, digitization and automation of processes, to plugging in leakages across departments and accounts. Their billings reach ₹ 3 crores.



Rashmi Bansal dedicates a chapter of her book 'Follow Every Rainbow' to Deepa and Lumière. The company enters adulthood, and they facilitate change management for Lumière. The introduction of the Gallup Strengths to the portfolio is a game changer. A revamp of the technological infrastructure ensues, giving way to an articulation of Lumière 3.0.