It was an evening reserved to honour grace and fortitude. An eclectic mix of women from across the business fraternity had flocked together for the 11th edition of the Most Powerful Women (MPW) in Indian Business Awards at the ITC Grand Central in Mumbai on August 13.A quick glance around and one saw the usually formal Nishi Vasudeva, Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, interacting freely with other guests. For her and many others, such an event, indubitably, offered an avenue to build long-term relations.
Chief guest of the day Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Cisco Systems, was at her candid best when she exhorted the women leaders to seize the opportunities that the world offers. She said women tend to second guess themselves. Dwelling on her personal experience while hiring, she said women ask for time to think over a job offer whereas men, nine out of 10 times, take no time in accepting an offer.
Three topical panel discussions witnessed disparate views from panellists with some pouring their hearts out. The discourse on "Boardroom quotas for women: Boon or bane?" saw myriad perspectives at play. Vasudeva was nuanced when she said, "If there is a way to start, this is the way." Rama Bijapurkar, an independent market strategy consultant, was cogent when she said the selection committee for a company board needs to work for more diversity. "Diversity de-risks you and not derails you." Ankhi Das, Director and Head of Public Policy, Facebook India, said, "It is more important to create conditions for success, rather than creating laws."In the second panel discussion "To hire or be hired: What works better?", Renuka Ramnath, Founder, Managing Director and CEO of Multiples Alternate Asset Management, said being an entrepreneur taught her to be grounded and leave behind the comforts of a salaried job. She believes that working for oneself is the best option. "When you can hire someone, you should never work for someone else," she said. In the discussion "Ambitious women: Do societal perceptions matter anymore?", panellists agreed that for women to be ambitious, family support is a must. Zarin Daruwala, President, wholesale banking, ICICI Bank, said though women do well in service industry, adjustments have to be made. Pallavi Shroff, Senior Partner, Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co, narrated workplace anecdotes to point out how male-dominated legal profession is. "You are in a man's world. Do everything that you're expected to do in your job," she said.
Nine newcomers, including Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairman, SBI; Anita Dongre, Founder and CEO, AND Designs; Sonali Kulkarni, President and CEO, Fanuc India; and Guneet Monga, CEO, Sikhya Entertainment, were among the award winners.SRM University was the presenting sponsor of the event. Associate sponsor was EBCO, and beverage partner was Signature Packed Drinking Water.
The evening was not just a celebration of successful women but also a tribute to struggles the winners faced with grit and determination in their journey to the top.