The auditorium at IIM Bangalore reverberated with loud cheers on Sunday as the audience, comprising almost exclusively of women – entrepreneurs, alumnae of NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) at IIMB and students, were exhorted to celebrate their journey to leadership and the power of collaboration, networking and mentoring by Meena Ganesh.

“Think big, dream big, get your hands dirty. Do not hold yourself back. Reach out for opportunities and resources. And, remember ‘ambition’ is not a dirty word,” said Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO of Portea Medical. Speaking at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore’s (IIMB) first-ever Women Leadership Summit, Meena Ganesh further exhorted women to state their capabilities clearly.

Work like a Boss

Emphasizing the need for young women to make smart and wise choices, she said “Get rid of thought barriers. Do not be limited by the choices you make. Learn to let go. And at work, ask for new projects and promotions and raises. Do not hesitate to speak up for yourself.”

Doffing her many feathered cap (Meena Ganesh is co-promoter of several internet and technology enabled start-ups like,,, etc to a forum like ‘IIMB Women in Management’ for providing a platform that initiates conversations relevant to women professionals, she repeatedly stressed the need for women to believe in themselves. Earlier, Dr Sushil Vachani, Director, IIMB, said “Women must find their voice and use it well. I have raised two daughters and I encouraged them to speak their mind.”

Gender, he pointed out, played a significant role as people moved up in leadership roles. “I saw an article on women on boards. I was startled to read about how very few women are on boards in China (9.6) and even in USA (19.6.) The climb to the top is difficult. So, know where you stand and know whether you are getting your due. If you aren’t, then ask for it,” he said, encouraging women to network and strategize for success. Meena Ganesh, suggested women to “think of yourself as a leader, an entrepreneur. Reach out for resources – be it terms of a training program or in terms of mentoring support.” She added, “Be prepared to work hard and be prepared to encounter gender stereotyping when you are a woman who is in the initial stages of her professional journey. But remember to build your career record so strongly that soon gender becomes immaterial.” Describing her experiences at NIIT, where she spent the first seven years of her career as an IT consultant, Meena observed workplaces today are more open to women.

Trash the cliches

“When I began, there were no toilets for women in factories or offices. I had to ask my male colleagues to stand guard when I used the rest room!” On a more serious note, she added that she was fortunate to work in an egalitarian company where equal opportunities were the norm.

“My journey as an entrepreneur – setting up one of the first BPOs in Bangalore – found me battling not funding or HR challenges but mindset issues. Cops would stop our cabs and wonder where so many women were going so late in the night! So I started having ‘family days’ and ‘open days’ at our office to invite people, including parents of our staff and the City Commissioner of Police and his force, to come and see what our work was all about,” said Meena, who till February 2013 was the promoter and Board member of TutorVista and CEO and MD of Pearson Education Services, and now heads a new technology enabled home healthcare company called Portea Medical which she founded in July 2013 to bring innovative healthcare services to the Indian market.