Winners of 'The Most Powerful Women in Indian Business' awards at ITC Grand Central in Mumbai. Photo: Danesh Jassawala
The energy was infectious at Mumbai's ITC Grand Central, where more than 30 women were felicitated in Business Today's 10th edition of The Most Powerful Women in Indian Business. With Xerox Corp CEO Ursula Burns as the chief guest, it was an occasion to remember.
Burns, along with Ashish Bagga, Group CEO, India Today Group and Chaitanya Kalbag, Editor, Business Today, gave away the awards to those listed as the most powerful women. They included Swarupa Sanyal, Head of Strategy and Corporate Initiatives at Genpact; Asha Gupta, Managing Director, Tupperware India; Nina Lath Gupta, MD, National Film Development Corporation; and Zarin Daruwala, President, Wholesale Banking, ICICI Bank. Women from varied fields ranging from banking to law to social media were honoured. Sixteen of the 30 women honoured were figuring in the list for the first time. Three eminent women, having figured in this list at least seven times in the past, moved into the hallowed "Hall of Fame". They were Vinita Bali, Managing Director, Britannia Industries; Renuka Ramnath, MD & CEO, Multiples Alternate Asset Management, and Renu Sud Karnad, MD, HDFC.
Burns's witty comments during her speech kept the audience in great spirits. She noted, for instance, that 'photo copy' and 'Xerox' had become synonymous, but she wished people only refer to photo copies as Xeroxes when they came out of Xerox machines and not those from other brands. On diversity, gender or otherwise, she said these only enhanced an organisation's growth.
Having worked with Xerox all her life, Burns added that her company never expected her to change herself in any way for the sake of her work, but simply to do it well.
The panel discussion that preceded the chat with Burns, on the importance of impatience in business, also emphasised that to be successful, women should perform to the best of their ability and never give up. Many agreed that in the long run, patience was a good quality to have. "One should be impatient with the steps one takes, but be patient about the outcome," said Naina Lal Kidwai, Country Head, HSBC India. Others noted that things are changing, but that change is slow, and people should have no patience with such tardiness. Asked about the current economic situation, Zia Mody, Managing Partner, AZB & Partners, said, "We have been patient enough. Now is the time to be completely impatient."
Many felt issues such as women's education, opportunities, and change of mindsets needed to be taken up strongly.