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Feministaa has picked up five women, who have seen no dearth of ups and downs in their careers and personal lives; yet, inspite of all the turmoil, they have achieved great heights. Celebrating their courage and spirit, Feministaa has jotted down the highlights of their achievements. Read on..
Head and Director Online Operations, Facebook India
Facebook needs no introduction but the woman who heads it in our country is worth a mention. She grew up in a middle-class family with her father who worked at a steel company and thus had to move from city to city in her schooling years, which made her more adaptable to different situations. Societal norms made her choose between Medicine and Engineering and she chose the latter.
Reddy had earlier been with companies such as Silicon Graphics and Motorola.
She was the youngest director of engineering at Silicon Graphics and the only woman in this role in her team. And it was here that she learnt that job descriptions didn’t matter to her, what only mattered was her goals which was reflected in her decision to join a start-up post her MBA.
Being on the track to become a corporate honcho, it would’ve been a difficult task for her for she holds a master’s in business administration from Stanford University. She was more than ready to come back to her native land after being offered by Motorola.
Kirthiga was the first employee at Facebook India and she says big visions and aspirational goals inspire her. More than any material incentives, people’s appreciation matter to her and hence she’s able to gauge the needs of her fellow colleagues and employers.
Reddy agrees child-bearing years affect work-life balance but things worked in her favour and she is blessed with two beautiful daughters. “When you decide something is important, it is amazing how nature conspires to make things happen for you.
The message here is to create your own choices. To not accept the tyranny of the ‘or’ but embrace the power of the ‘and’,” she says.
Reddy says amidst your journey, one should not forget to enjoy for there’s no particular “time period” when one can enjoy. Family’s and friends’ support according to Reddy are the pillars of strength towards your road to success.
Chairperson & MD, Bharat Hotels Ltd.
Dr Jyotsna Suri is the chairperson and managing director of Bharat Hotels Limited, and has been influential in rebranding of the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group’s luxury hotels. She is also the president of FICCI. Having done her graduation in English, she was far away from the corporate world and it was only when her husband set up his own business that she stepped into the professional world, to nurture it with love and care.
“I would put in long hours at work to learn as much of the business as I could, while continuing to balance the demands of my young children. It was a tough choice.
The Balancing Act
“The days would blend into one another” says Suri who had to constantly juggle between home and work most importantly because of her 4 children.
As any widow goes a through a rough patch of managing family and finance, Suri had more responsibility to uphold the company’s stature and secure her family’s future post her husband’s death in 2006.
Overcoming people’s expectations of a failure, Suri believes that being a woman is not an impediment, rather as a catalyst, that helps one do well at work. Women have an innate ability to multitask, and that really helps at the workplace!
Jyotsna Suri has proved that determination is all it takes to carve a niche for one self.
CEO, StarBucks Coffee Company India
As one of the youngest CEO’s in the TATA Group, Avani Davda is a true ‘rising’ star. Heading the joint venture between Tata Global Beverages Private Limited and Starbucks Coffee Company was an inconceivable thing for her for she had reared it as her baby for more than year. Davda attributes her success to her decisions and life choices. After her MBA she joined the Tata Group as a TAS probationer and her experience here further broadened her horizon.
Her years at school gave her a sense of leadership and responsibility. Davda says that her role easily changes when she’s home and that it’s a smooth transition for her. She believes work-life balance is no rocket science and believes organizations should foster women’s potentials.
Davda believes it is important to never lose the human touch.
“I believe that values must never be compromised because these form the soul of a business and are the filters that we use for everything that we do”, remarks Davda.
Executive Vice Chairman, Apollo Hospitals
Preetha Reddy is the executive Vice Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals. Married during her college years, this bold leader joined Apollo amidst a worker strike at the Apollo Hospital.
She says that experience of hers was a learning one. She finds inspiration in her father Prathap Chandra Reddy, the founder of Apollo. She was and still is determined to transform India’s health care walking on the path that her father once travelled. She believes in the uniqueness of each individual and thus her group seeks to work for all- the rich and the poor. She also leads an initiative Saving a Child’s Heart Initiative for the underprivileged. She believes that anyone can become a leader and that it’s not something that is innate, but something that anyone can acquire.
She avoids stress by indulging in recreation through art and meditation; something she believes provides mental balance and peace.
Women in diplomacy and that too Indian women is not a common sight. While there are women who are becoming Civil Servants in large numbers more so even topping the exams, very few are a part of the Foreign Services in our country.
But Nirupama Rao is one such exception and an inspiration. She spent her entire professional life in civil services and diplomacy. With an M.A. in English Literature, she joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973. She has served at important positions at capitals including Washington, Beijing and many more. She is very-well versed with India-China relations and was also the country’s first woman Ambassador to China from 2006 to 2009. She was India’s first woman High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, adding several feathers to her hat.
She was inspired by her uncle who was also a diplomat and was always curious of the happenings around the world. She says that her parents brought her and her sisters just like parents would bring up their sons and that they had great ambitions for their children.
Post marriage when Rao had to choose between continuing her career and leading the life of a homemaker, she was supported by her husband, a civil servant. They lived most of their lives separated from each other but that could never build a bridge in their personal lives.
“I am guided by the principles of integrity and meritocracy” says Rao who believes there’s possibly no sphere or field of work that cannot be run by women where they can provide fresh perspectives.