Women managers share inspiring stories of success and support

Aakanksha Srinivasan Ananya Revanna Chennai | Updated on January 15, 2018

Panellists speak during the session ‘Leaning Back (In)’ at the Women Managers’ Convention organised by The Madras Management Association, in Chennai

Empowering insights marked Madras Management Association’s convention

The Madras Management Association last week organised its annual Women Managers’ Convention on the theme ‘The Millennial Woman’. Women from all walks of life came together to exchange notes and share stories — of success, failure, and supporting other women at the workplace and elsewhere.

The first session, ‘Leaning (Back) In’, was chaired by Saundarya Rajesh, founder-President of AVTAR Group, which works to help women get back into the workforce. The panellists were Hemalatha Annamalai, founder and CEO, Ampere Vehicles; and Toolika Rani, Squadron Leader (retired), Indian Air Force, whose passion for mountaineering pushed her to scale Mount Everest.

Rajesh spoke about how it was important for women to overcome the feeling of being a statistic and get back into the workforce.

Relating how she finds the time to pursue her passion as well as excel at work, Toolika Rani said she trains before and after work everyday. “While training, I set short goals and regard them as base camps. So when I attempted to scale a peak, not just Everest, in my mind, I have already scaled the peak several times. It’s all in the mind. If you want to do something, it will automatically become a priority for you.”


The session ‘From Woman to Woman’ was chaired by Deborah Thiagarajan, Director, Dakshinachitra museum, and Chairman, Madras Craft Foundation. The panellists were Deepti Bopaiah, Executive Director, GoSports Foundation; Manasi Sapre, Senior Director - Head of Programming and Acquisitions India, Vuclip; and Shreya Gadepalli, South Asia Director, Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

All the panellists agreed that women have to support other women and that behind every successful woman, there is another who dared to dream big and be different. Sapre said: “Workplace culture needs to change to make it more — for the lack of a better term — woman-friendly. And this can be achieved only when women support one another.”

Nurturing creativity

In the session titled ‘A Balancing Act’ , artist, designer and educator Aishwarya Manivannan spoke about the importance of nurturing creativity in students. Creativity is not restricted to arts students; it is necessary for every field, she said.

About the education system in India, she said: “A teacher asks students to draw an apple and when they don’t draw it a certain way, they are told they are wrong. The education system doesn’t encourage children to think differently; they are expected to learn what textbooks say.”

To further prove her point, she showed the audience two drawings.

The exercise was to create something out of a given shape (a triangle, in this case) in 10 seconds. The first picture was by a five-year-old; as expected, he drew a house from the triangle. The second picture was also that of a house, but it was by a 76-year-old.

“On one hand, we can look at it as our ability to retain the child in us. On the other, it shows that we haven’t grown in over 70 years, which is scary.”

This is where the need for balance comes in: most people predominantly use one side of their brain. Manivannan said we need to find a balance between the two halves, so there is a creative outflow in every aspect of our lives.

Published on March 17, 2017

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