Stand up and be heard to change mindsets: Women leaders

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on March 09, 2018

Naiyya Saggi, founder, BabyChakra; Radhika Gupta, CEO, Edelweiss Asset Management; Surekha Desai, SVP, Vodafone India;Brinda Miller, art curator; Latha Srinivasan, Deputy Executive Editor, NewsX; Nirmika Singh, Executive Editor, Rolling Stone India, and Rupa Naik, Senior Director, World Trade Centre Mumbai, in Mumbai on Friday

High time women stepped up to the stage, says a panel of thought-leaders

Somewhere along the way, women appear to have forgotten their strength and endurance. It is high time women stepped up to the stage and took on the onerous task of changing the mindset of others in order to make the change long-term, said woman thought-leaders.

Speaking at a session on women empowerment organised by BusinessLine, a panel of thought-leaders shone the spotlight on their own power-packed, inspiring stories. Punctuated in part by their biographical sketches, the women offered the diverse crowd deep insights into their journey through the corporate world, offering practical tips and suggestions on how to make it in the traditionally male-dominated world of high finance, entrepreneurship and art.

“These days, women are a lot more savvy and confident. But one thing that has always held women back is their lack of ambition,” said Radhika Gupta, CEO, Edelweiss Asset Management.

Exhorting the audience, which comprised mainly women, to stand up and be heard, Gupta said: “I see so many cases where the average guy walks up and says, ‘Give me this responsibility’, though he is just 60-70 per cent qualified for the role. Whereas, a woman will not come up and take on a challenge, even though she is 120-150 per cent qualified for the job. It is time to change the paradigm.”

Urging women to stand-out in the crowd, an imperative in today’s ecosystem, Gupta said: “Ask for more responsibility. If you are aspiring for more at the workplace, voice that ambition and work systematically towards it. Get feedback, hone your strengths, work on your weaknesses. But it all starts with voicing the ambition.”

As for gender, “it is as much of an issue as you make it out to be,” said Gupta, adding women tend to “shatter glass ceilings everyday by taking on the conventional myths and challenging them; that, then, gradually puts gender out of the equation.”

Speaking about the element of excellence that each woman should possess, Surekha Desai, Senior Vice-President, Customer Service, Vodafone India, said: “There is no men and women, only excellence and meritocracy which are the most critical elements. The conviction that you bring to the table, your ‘can-do’ attitude, will ensure there is no gender restriction. The sky is the limit.”

Referring to the bias in the marketplace, Naiyya Saggi, founder of BabyChakra, an online marketplace, said it was time for women to create products for the next wave of consumers. “Why have all men-dominated products? There are many things only a woman understands. We all need to take responsibility in the ecosystem we operate in,” she said.

Speaking about half the population that rules this world, Rupa Naik, Senior Director of World Trade Centre Mumbai, said it was high time “to put this 50 per cent asset to good use. Woman power does not need to be restricted to the homes.”

In her humour-filled talk, Brinda Miller, art curator and Festival Director of Mumbai’s famous Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, maintained that since women are good multitaskers, handling both a high-demanding job and a family come easily to most of them.

Nirmika Singh, Executive Editor of Rolling Stone India, encouraged women to find their own voice. “The challenge is to stick to your guns. Perseverance is the key.”

Referring to the scant representation of women in the corporate sector, Edelweiss’ Gupta said: “One woman doing well leads to a lot of breaking of stereotypes; it leads to more women rising up the rungs. The rise in excellence in corporate India can go a long way in the next generation of leadership,” she told the packed audience.

Collectively, the speakers acknowledged the need for each woman to find her own path.

Published on March 09, 2018

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