Meghna Kuckreja

My day job is Account Consultant for National Accounts at CUNA Mutual Group, which is an organization that provides insurance and investment solutions to credit unions.

This is a sales support role and my clients are some of the country’s largest credit unions. The position really plays to my sweet spot, which is having the opportunity to interact with customers, build relationships and help problem solve.

Although I have a strong financial services background and spent years at Wells Fargo, this role has challenged me in new ways, including hitting the books after eons, to get my various insurance licenses. Although studying and memorization of the content has been challenging for me, I’m always up for a challenge!

About four years ago, I discovered the joys of running, something I continue to pursue, in my spare time. Running for me draws so many parallels with life. Everything starts with the mind. If you think it, you can achieve it. If you harbor self-doubt, then even the smallest of things can feel challenging and impossible. Running teaches you to be disciplined in life, to never give up and see things through, to always strive in the face of adversity and to push yourself when you think you can’t go on anymore…

My most memorable caffeine was the first time I ever tasted this magical drink at age 12. I grew up in India and I remember Nescafé  had just released their very first instant coffee. My mom brought some home to try and after a lot of begging and pleading and making all sorts of promises, she relented and let me have a taste of it. I mixed some up in my milk and fell in love with it and have been hooked ever since! Nescafé used to come with a plastic shaker: You’d add ice, Nescafé and milk and make yourself a refreshing glass of cold coffee that hit just the right spot on a hot summer day.

My current caffeine of choice is cold brew. I like light and medium roasts, anything that’s not very bitter. I prefer it black—so I can taste its raw earthiness. I used to enjoy drinking Frappuccinos but now I’m over milky coffee. I love the smoothness of cold brew—the flavors simply dance on your tongue.

My favorite place for caffeine is Starbucks. I know it’s very cliché but growing up in India we didn’t have Starbucks. I remember my first experience of going to one when I was 20 and backpacking through Europe. I was in London and ordered my very first Frappuccino. I felt like I had conquered the world and I still remember that feeling so vividly. Although Starbucks feels like home to me, I will drink coffee anywhere.

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Indira Gandhi. It’s always been interesting to me that India, a country that’s been described as “third world” and “backward,” had a female leader before so many other countries.

I was very young when she was assassinated, and I’ve spent a lot of time reading and learning about her. Gandhi lived in an era when women were told to shut up and sit in the shadows. How did she have the courage to speak up and be in the limelight? Even though Gandhi  grew up in a political family (her father wasn’t Mahatma Gandhi, but Jawaharlal Nehru, who became the first prime minister of the newly independent India in 1947) it still had to be extremely difficult as a female.

Gandhi was a charismatic leader and appeared to be a strong woman. When I heard her speeches, she was so point on with everything she said, with such grace and confidence. I would love to know how she found the strength to prove the naysayers wrong. Gandhi and the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher had a lot in common: Two iron ladies who had to be tough in a male-dominated world, while also playing a more traditional role of being wives and mothers.

I’d be curious to hear her story in her own words. How did she show such strength and composure on the world stage? Did she struggle with mom guilt? We can certainly see the persona on stage, but what was she like behind that persona, when no one was looking? She fascinates me!

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: Helping people realize their own potential! So many people, especially women, struggle with self-image and tend to think they’re not good enough. I wish they could see their limitless possibilities; their own individuality and that life is too short to be negative and depressed or be filled with self-doubt. I’d love for people to just own their unique, crazy self, just like I have!