Role-models for future women leaders

When I started working on women’s history about thirty years ago, the field did not exist. People didn’t think that women had a history worth knowing.

                                                                                                                                                                             —Gerda Lerner, Women and History (1986 – 1993)

There is a dramatic change in the role of women worldwide in the last century. More women are getting education, and are entering the corporate workforce, thriving as scientists in reputed universities and research labs, and also self-sustaining on their own businesses. Working women are no longer a rarity and are accepted as an integral part of the workforce. Many organizations experience a steady rate of increase in number of women employees and this pattern is bound to continue in the future as well.

Today’s technological advancements enable contributed to the rise of flexible and inclusive work culture, enabling people to be in control of their time and careers. Many new fields have started which in turn, calls for more jobs. A study by world economic forum shows that while women are 30% of the corporate workforce; it is still at 10% in the top leadership.

While it a minority figure, it is bound to change in coming decades. In view of this powerful discussion, let us take a look at those top women leaders in the corporate ladder in India.

Rita Teaotia, Commerce Secretary, Government of India

A Gujarat-cadre IAS officer of 1981 batch, Rita Teotia is credit with negotiating well to boost India’s trade prospects. She took charge as commerce secretary on July 1, 2015, a time when there were multiple challenges faced by India’s external trade sector. Her dexterity in helping the commerce minister steer the country successfully through this phase is very commendable.

Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson, State Bank of India

Arundhati Bhattacharya hold the fame of being the first female chairperson of SBI in 206 years since its commencement. Starting as an intern at SBI when she was 21, she now leads the bank and Forbes listed her as the 25th most powerful woman in the world in 2016. Her background has nothing to do with banking or commerce; she graduated with English Honors from Jadvapur University. She converted her first job into her passion which led her up the corporate ladder. Under her SBI started initiatives likes internal blog for its women employees, SBI in-touch galleries, sabbatical for female employees in need of maternity leave and many more. She is working to emerge SBI as a modern bank for every Indian.

Kirtiga Reddy, Head of Office, Facebook India

Kirtiga Reddy is the Managing Director of Facebook India and plays a key role in building and maintaining strategic relationships with top regional agencies and clients. She was the first Facebook employee in June 2010 and setup the India operations in Hyderabad. She holds and MBA from Stanford University, where she graduated with top honors as Arjay Miller Scholar. She has been featured in Fortune India’s Top 50 Most Powerful Women in India and few other recognitions. She is passionate of developing women leaders in India

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocoin India Limited    

After working as a trainee in Biocoin, Ireland to learn about the business Kiran Mazumdar Shaw returned to India in 1978 and started the Indian subsidary of the company in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore. This is a biotech company that produces enzymes for use in brewing, food-packaging and textile industries. Facing challenges initially due to her youth, gender and, untested business model, and technological challenges faced to build a biotech company in India, Biocoin is now pioneer in bio research in India. Their current research includes cancer, diabetes and other auto-immune diseases. She is a compassionate captalist who focuses on areas of health, education and infrastructure in rural areas of Karnataka. She is also Forbes 2016’s 77th most powerful woman in the world.

Chanda Kochhar, Chief Executive of ICICI bank ltd is 40th most powerful woman according to Forbes.

Hindustan Times Media’s chairperson, Shobhana Bhartia, is 93rd most powerful woman in the world who revolutionized HT Media.

A pioneering business woman in healthcare sector, Preetha Reddy, Managing Director of Apollo Hospital Enterprises along with Government of India, helped introduce the NABH — National Accreditation Board for Hospitals.

Neelam Dhawan is the Managing Director of Microsoft India. She was initially rejected by FMCG majors like Hindustan Lever and Asian Paints as they did not wish to appoint a woman for marketing and sales.

The list is not exhaustive and there are many more powerful and accomplished women in corporate leadership roles. While the gender gap is still alarmingly large, these powerful women will be role models for its future women leaders.


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