Vasudevan Srinivasan, Director of CETC, moderated an industry panel discussion on what it takes for women to be successful in today’s world, which has traditionally been biased towards males.
The panellists were Nishi Vasudeva, Former Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation; Mukta Arora, COO of Eli Lilly Services India; Ratika Prakash Gore, Asst. Professor. Dy. Chairperson (Industry Integration), Head of Career Development Programme at SPJIMR and Anthony Rose, Chairman and CEO, House of Rose Professional.
“The default mode in this world is ‘man’. You have to reset the mode for women,” said Srinivasan.
Speaking about her own experiences as the first Indian woman to head a major organisation in the oil sector, Vasudeva said on the matter of success that a lot of it depended on how one sees oneself, i.e. whether you see yourself as a woman in a place with a lot of men or as a professional who has joined a company to work.
“As long as you know your business and what you are doing, you have nothing to fear from questioning or speaking up. This is one thing that needs to be instilled in women,” she said. She further added that women should not expect to be pampered as it should be a level playing field.
Gore outlined three important points that women should follow- stakeholder management, have a thick skin and work diligently, while also stating that it is important to know the metrics of success from the start. “Why cannot we change the rules?” she asked.
“Two key lessons I learnt were that it is very important to be authentic and stand up to my beliefs. Lots of times we try to be a man, I have never done it. I want to bring my own uniqueness. I have looked at life as a moving river of energy and never as a stagnant lake. Being convinced of your choices has been my prime philosophy in life,” said Arora.
Speaking about the responsibility of men, Rose was of the opinion that men should be part of the discussion and the action. “Men have had a unique role as mentors traditionally. We should also be learning from the women who have attained leadership,” he said. Arora also agreed that understanding women’s perspective is quite important.
“Having a mentor is extremely helpful in one’s career but if we want to improve diversity then sponsorship is very important. There should be a strong program where the “leaking pipeline” is addressed by the management. Sometimes it is good to have someone who will throw you into the pool and ask you to learn to swim,” added Vasudeva.
The panel discussion took place on the sidelines of the “Break the Ceiling Touch The Sky” event to celebrate women in professional services, organised by House of Rose in Mumbai.