High tea over high hopes and aspiration for advancement of women

A success and leadership summit for women held in Mumbai saw top leaders speak about building a dream job and answered tough questions on success

e4m by Pallavi Borkar
Published: May 9, 2018 8:54 AM  | 3 min read

Top business leaders of the country, many of them women, came together in Mumbai yesterday to share their personal stories and experiences to encourage women to pursue their dreams.

Christina Ruggiero, Chief Executive Officer, Hindustan Coco-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd spoke on building your dream job and the importance of working towards your goal. Wearing a traditional Paithani saree gifted by women from a village near Pune for helping them start a store that would sell Coco Cola products, Ruggiero spoke on the challenges she faced as a women leader in a manufacturing company. “I spent 25 years doing a job that people told me that women cannot do. I wanted to be a role model for myself and my sons. We all need fuel to achieve our goals, first form of fuel is to remember where we are and where we are going, this would propel us to get to where we are going. Second fuel for me is passion, you have to love what you do,” she said.

She elaborated on the need to be yourself and that it is alright to take help if you need one. According to Ruggiero, to become a CEO, one must be resilient, courageous, persistent, and must dream and declare those dreams. “If you give women opportunity, they will rise to the occasion,” she concluded.

Rachel Catanach, senior partner and president of Greater China, FleishmanHillard wanted to be a musician but failed and chose a different path, said, “My life has been one of change. I always try to be best at what I do. I'm inspired by physicist and chemist, Marie Curie. And my story is of reinvention, of faking it till you make it. Realising that perfection is only the purpose, and understanding that you have to choose opportunity too, and also know that failure is a good thing; failure helps you to do be better at what you do next.”

Panellist Chandramouli Venkatesan, author – Catalyst and CEO (special projects) at Pidilite Industries Limited said, “I never planned anything to get a dream job, it just keeps happening. My biggest learning is that if you have a target it creates more stress so if you don’t have a target you enjoy the journey. But that does not mean you take it easy, you should choose to make a difference here and now.”

Abanti Sankaranarayanan, chief strategy & corporate affairs officer, Diageo India confessed that she has always been a sucker for interesting, varied, and challenging roles, “I always had an ambition to fulfill my potential. I think it's important to step up and be visible, be visible in a way that you are making a broader impact in the organisation beyond the narrower demands of your job. You should be driven by impact and outcome vs input.”

(From left to right): Tejal Patil, Christina Ruggiero, Sonali Dhawan - Brand Director- P&G; Lara Balsara Vajifdar - Executive Director - Madison World, and Vinita Dang Mohoni - business and marketing strategy consultant

Tejal Patil, General Counsel, GE South Asia set out a discussion on gender pay gap, tips on how to negotiate your salary hikes, and how to overcome the uncomfortable feeling when asking for what we think the organisation should pay us. Top leaders spoke on being a part of the boys club where socialising with your male colleagues over drinks or golf or cricket after work has become the norm for networking; and how such issues need to be confronted as most women may not feel comfortable with such set ups.

The sessions were part of Break the Ceiling, Touch the Sky 2018 - a success and leadership summit for women that helps participating companies enable gender diversity within their organisations and enhance the leadership skills of their women leaders.

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