Still to this day, I am the only non-Indian employee at the Indian offices where I work. It’s a growing company with a couple thousand team members spread between offices in the U.S. and India and I’m proud to say that almost 50% of the employees are women. This is not a common stat amongst companies in India and I broadcast that message whenever I can because it should be broadcast … because it’s my opinion that women deserve equal rights and employment is just one the items on the ‘equality’ list.
So I’m not sure why it surprised me when I walked into a conference room of 120 amazing power women in Bangalore that I was once again, to my knowledge, the only non-Indian delegate at the event. I say ‘delegate’ because the moderator was the one and only Indian-born American power woman Sara Mathew, Chairman and CEO of Dunn & Bradstreet.
Held at Taj West End, Dare to Lead is an initiative set in motion by Sara Mathew and Dun & Bradstreet. Over the past few years, Sara has been sharing her presentation on “Leadership Lessons Learned after 30 years in Corporate America,” titled “Dare to Lead”. She realized that there is a need for mentorship and networking for women leaders in India, and is committed to helping bridge this gap. This initiative is dedicated to bringing together women who are pioneers in their fields, and have achieved both professional and personal successes, to share their knowledge and insights for empowering the new generation of women leaders – and men too!
Starting with breakfast and networking at 9:30, the event then kicked into high gear with inspirational first-hand accounts of feelings and challenges and triumphs surrounding leadership…drizzled with intimate personal tales from the lives of four amazingly successful, motivating and inspirational women — all of whom are listed on the Top 25 Most Powerful Women of India list (a couple for many years running):
- Kirthiga Reddy, Head of Facebook India
- Leena Nair, VP-HR Unilever South Asia and Global Diversity & Inclusion Leadership
- Archana Hingorani, CEO of IL&Fs Investment Managers Limited
- Vedika Bhandarkar, Vice Chairman & MD of Banking, Credit Suisse Securities India
I don’t know how I made it onto the list of invitees but I am truly grateful and wish to give hearty thanks as I say HATS OFF to Dunn & Bradstreet for gifting the women of Karnataka (and me) a massive dose of inspiration. Somehow just sitting in a room with 120 power executives, business owners, VPs of technology, engineers who build India’s expressways, women who run banks or NGOs, the only female auto dealer in Karnataka and so many more …. well, it is enough to make a woman sit up a bit taller in her chair and take pride in the wonderful talent pool and beauty around her. At least that’s what happened to me.
After breakfast, each panelist delivered speeches that touched the heart and resonated with the 120 Indian women (and me most of the time). And I say ‘most of the time’ because each of the speakers is married, where I am not – nor have I been for over a decade and I’ve been completely single for eight years now. So during the panel discussion and Q&A there was a tremendous focus at times on the topic of family life, married life and dealing with the pressure generally placed on an Indian woman to stay at home and nurture those parts of her life. It was interesting to hear that two of the five women on stage have arranged marriages – Sara and Kirthiga – and I only wish I had asked if all of them were in arranged marriages. I find the topic wonderfully interesting and enjoyed hearing some of the comments like:
- “The most important decision you’ll make is the partner you choose”
- “I couldn’t have gone so far in my career without my husband”
- “Make sure your partner has 100% buy-in with your career choices because that will make all the difference in the world”
Although I couldn’t relate to any of that, I have to admit that a spark of jealousy did ignite when I heard the discussions going on. I would love to ‘have it all’ and have some help at home and with my daughter and expenses … and these women definitely seem to have it all.
The Q&A session was quite interesting, with dozens of questions being asked by women who stood up, grabbed the microphone and asked about how to obtain a mentor, how to effectively network, what are the key traits to becoming a true leader and much more. Sitting in a room of only women was a tremendously safe environment for women to ask just about anything and it showed. Some women shared a bit of themselves as they stood up to ask a question. Others sent over their questions on a slip of paper. But all were interesting and every answer seemed to come from the hearts or the combined decades of business experience of the panelists.
As for me, like many of the women there I walked away empowered to try and become the entrepreneur who I think is inside me. It was a day to really help show us women that it’s okay to shed the fear and just go for it. On top of that, I think I found a new friend in Bangalore which is a major bonus! It was great to find a woman who works as a VP in tech, had lived in California and is now back in Bangalore who I clicked with right away. Fun, fun, fun!
Oh, and my personal favourite quotes of the day:
- “Hope and optimism is the key to being a good leader”
- and my most favourite, which made us all roar with laughter but is 200% true …. “Behind every successful woman is a maid. And a back-up maid” …. Now THAT I can relate to!
© 2012 Angela Carson
This Post Has 16 Comments
Your first blog post in your new home!! Congratulations! 🙂 🙂
I really like the term Power Women. And being in the company of Women who've grabbed opportunity by the horns and made something out of it, are immensely inspiring.
I remember one woman- Audrey Maben. She's an alumna of my college, and runs a flying school here in Bangalore. That she chased her dream of flying made me admire her a lot- and I expected her to tell us more about it. She did, but when she spoke, she also spoke of the things that we place a lot of importance in- Motherhood and family, much like those at Dare to Lead. Her point was that it was all a part of being a woman- and she just wanted us to chase our dreams- both professionally and personally- whatever those might be. 🙂 It was by far the most inspiring talk I ever heard- and something I really took to heart that day.
M … you are officially the first commenter on the first new content here — hip hip hoory! It is so funny you mention Audrey! I met her at my new hair salon Scent and went coo coo when she told me what she does because I am a pilot. I took her number and plan to go and get re-licensed when I’m financially able. I miss flying soooo much, used to fly all the time. Even took helicopter lessons, flew in a 1938 Travelair open cockpick bi-plane, in a Mustange, etc etc…. small world. I would bet that she would have had a kick-ass “girl power” speech indeed! Big hugs, don’t forget to call for coffee before you move xo
And wow!! You fly as well? I should so not be surprised though.. You're the Amazing American Adventurer- Angela! 😀 Well, more of a global adventurer, but you know what I mean..
haha you crack me up. I used to have so much fun flying. As a student pilot, before I got my license, I accidentally invaded Mexican airspace once and another time a few weeks later I almost confused the taxiway for the runway at the Las Vegas airport (but thankfully the tower control set me straight before I was too close so all good). Once I had my license, I used to rent planes and take my daughter’s car seat out of my car, strap it into the back seat of a Cessna 172 or a Piper, pop her cute little red kid-sized headset on and she and I would go visit my parents about 45 minutes away. I really miss all that. That feeling of freedom and flight. Of being a woman and doing something very few women did at that time (comparitively). Was amazing … especially where I lived in San Diego when I took helicopter lessons and we’d fly out almost touching the waves on the ocean where dolphins were swimming. Ahhhhh…. I miss all that. I need to stop writing about it now haha
Seriously.. Make a blog post out of it someday.. I'd really love to read about it all.. 🙂
After I fly for the first time here again I will 🙂 And will try to add in some fun stories of “the good old days” 🙂
Hahaha.. It's just the funniest coincidence that you met her at your hair salon, because when I saw her for the first time- before I knew who she was, or heard her talk- what I absolutely loved about her, was her hairstyle. She had this really cool pixie cut at the the time, and looked really stylish in her sari. You know what they say about first impressions.. 😀
hmmm….I am so impressed and inspired at d same time! Kudos!! to all those powerful women!! and thumbs up to you Angela or rather Angel!!! :))
The Forbes Power Women list ranks the world’s 100 most powerful women by dollars, media presence and impact.
LOL… that's funny…
While everyone applauds the western countries for women freedom & while it's true that Indian is really far behind most of those "Advanced" countries, we did have Woman Prime Minister and we do have Woman President which most of the Advanced countries can't claim.
But still, we gotta work on equality. Jobs should be open for both gender…
Great beginning Angela. You seem to be feeling at home already in India. Way to go! Btw, do any of these power women, including Sara Mathew blog?
Hi Francis, thanks so much 🙂 Not sure if any of the speakers have blogs, I haven’t really google’d them to be honest. I’d be very impressed if they had the time though! –ange
Angela, I am new to your blog and stumbled on it quite accidentally when doing a google search on Bang. I am so in love with India and especially Bengaluru. Thank you for posting this terrific summary of the event. How inspiring and empowering it must have been to be in that room with all those women! I look forward to reading more of your blogs and watching your vblogs.
Your comment is very kind, glad you found my blog and please feel free to comment and add to the conversation any time 🙂 – angela
Hi Angela, I was looking for some business information about another company and had googled DNB and I found your Blog. Very interesting and very true. I am a single mom with a eleven year old boy and I am doing good in my professional life ..Yes, its true without your faithful Maid nothing can be done.. However, I have my Mom too to support me with everyday “battles”. Three Cheers for the strong, intelligent and beautiful women…Jyoti
Hey Jyoti, thanks for taking the time to share…very kind of you. Three cheers indeed!! Hugs to you! -angela
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