Defining power is a huge challenge. Defining powerful women is a bigger challenge. Having taken on this challenge for seven years, we have reasons to believe that we know more than others about how much women have come to influence and inspire business in India. This issue of Business Today is a recognition and celebration of this phenomenon.
Ever since 2003, when we started our annual "Most Powerful Women in Indian Business" series, 25 women comprised the list. This year, we have expanded it. We had to. The pool of successful women is much larger today than it was six years ago. India's largest private bank wasn't headed by a woman till even a year ago. Ditto for one of India's fastest growing banks. Microfinance, the hot bed of women entrepreneurship, was not the force it is today. Even the entertainment business didn't have the kind of women directors it has today. And, of course, public relations of India's two largest business groups-the Tatas and the Mukesh Ambani Group-weren't handled by a woman till recently. So, our power list includes 30 names-five more than in previous years. We hope we will find reasons to make this list longer in future.
There are women who influence business profoundly, even though they are not in business. We profile some of them on pg 64. Women are also playing an increasingly critical role in the talent hunt for India Inc. Find some of these talent catchers on pg 70. Less to do with power and more to do with our-and our readers'-curiosity, we also attempt a look at the "other halves" of some of India's power business women (pg 80). And we found that there is truth in the old adage-though with a twist: Behind every successful woman is often a man.
This rounded view of the lives of successful women in Indian business leads us to believe that women are better at maintaining a work-life balance, blending ambition with pragmatism and combining speed with stability. Women, more than men, consider personal and professional growth as two sides of the same coin. These attributes are valuable to people across gender, age, geography and professions. They are also essential ingredients for modern leadership. If many of today's problems stem from a lack of good leadership, encouraging more women to reach leadership positions is one way to solve those problems. This issue of BT is an attempt at spreading this message.