India's Women Achievers: A Tribute to the woman of India
Anju Bobby George
Anju Bobby George (Malayalam: അഞ്ജു ബോബി ജോര്*ജ്ജ്) (born April 19, 1977) is an Indian athlete. Anju Bobby George made history when she won the bronze medal in Long Jump at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris. With this achievement, she became the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in a World Championships in Athletics clearing 6.70 m. She went on to win the silver medal at the IAAF World Athletics Final in 2005, a performance she considers her best.
India's first Woman Grandmaster:Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman
Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman (born 25 March 1979) is a chess player of international repute from India. Vijayalakshmi is currently ranked 20th amongst women chess players in the world. She is the first Woman Grand Master (WGM) from India and is a six-time national champion.
She has won more medals than any other player for India in the Chess Olympiads. She has won almost all national age group titles, including the senior title, for record times.
Her current FIDE rating is 2464.
Twenty-year-old Subbaraman Vijayalakshmi of Indian Airlines became the first woman Grandmaster of the country after she drew her ninth round game with Wipro's P Harikrishna in the Wipro international GMs chess championship at the Taj residency in Hyderabad Monday.
Four-time national champion Vijayalakshmi had three WGM norms and two IM norms (in men) to her credit. She needed just nine game norms to become India's first woman Grandmaster.
A tense Vijayalakshmi, or Viji as she is fondly called, was seen walking with a brisk pace in the tournament hall. When she trapped Harikrishna's queen, she asked for a glass of water from the arbiter, a rare move from her, and it was obvious she was not herself.
'It is a great day for me. My father, who called me up, said in a choked voice that he is proud of me,'' said the champion player who was initially trained by her father A S Subbaraman.
Viji's performance, average a rating of 2503 in this category-11 FIDE event, is the best result.
Confirming that she has become the first WGM of the country, All India Chess Federation general secretary P T Umer Koya, also chief arbiter of the tournament, said her feat could boost women's chess in the country.
Koya said: ''Let's see if we can figure out what makes this emerging star tick.''
He said Viji would get Rs 200,000 for her brilliant achievement.
Vijaylakshmi said: ''I was very tense this morning and played a safe game with Harikrishna and my opening game was not good. Before coming to the hall I read the Bhagvad Gita and decided to play my own game as in the earlier tournaments I had become a woman GM in mind and lost most of the matches. Today I just wanted to play my game and achieve this rare honour of becoming the first ever Indian Woman Grandmaster.''
Sania Mirza (Hindi: सानिया मिर्ज़ा, Urdu: ثانیہ مرزا), born November 15, 1986, is an Indian tennis player. She started her tennis career in 2003. In 2004 she was awarded the Arjuna award by the Indian Government. She is known for her powerful forehand ground strokesIn April 2003, Mirza made her debut in the India Fed Cup team, winning all three singles matches. Mirza won the 2003 Wimbledon Championships Girls' Doubles title, teaming up with Alisa Kleybanova of Russia.
Mirza is the highest ranked female tennis player ever from India, with a career high ranking of 27 in singles and 18 in doubles. She holds the distinction of being the first Indian woman to be seeded in a Grand Slam tennis tournament. Earlier in 2005, she had become the first Indian woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament at the 2005 U.S. Open, defeating Mashona Washington, Maria Elena Camerin and Marion Bartoli. In 2004, she finished runner-up at the Asian Tennis Championship. In winning, with Mahesh Bhupathi, the Mixed Doubles event at the 2009 Australian Open, she became the first Indian woman to win any grand slam event.
Saina Nehwal (born March 17, 1990) is a Indian badminton player. Currently ranked number 5 in the world by Badminton World Federation, Saina is the first Indian woman to reach the singles quarterfinals at the Olympics and the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships. Saina Nehwal scripted history on June 21 2009, becoming the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament after clinching the Indonesia Open with a stunning victory over higher-ranked Chinese Lin Wang in Jakarta. Her highest career ranking is 5 ,
She is first Indian woman to win the Indonesian Open Super Series.
Previously coached by S. M. Arif, a Dronacharya Award winner, Saina is the reigning Indian national junior champion and is currently coached by Indonesian badminton legend Atik Jauhari since August 2008.
Her professional career is managed by GloboSport.
Saina was born in Hisar, Haryana, India and spent her complete life in city of Hyderabad. Her foray into the world of badminton was influenced by her father Dr. Harvir Singh, a scientist at the Directorate of Oilseeds Research, Hyderabad and her mother Usha Nehwal, both of whom were former badminton champions in Haryana.
Air Commodore Padmavati Bandopadhyaya :The First Woman to Fly High in the Air Force:
Across the world there are tales of women who take up adventurous careers as a challenge. They fly planes, climb mountains or travel to space on a rocket launcher. Some among them have another remarkable quality. They know how to include their striking achievements into their normal day-to-day life. Fifty-five year-old Dr Padmavati Bandhopadhyay is one of them.
At home, she is like any other mother, happy to retell tales from the Mahabharata, cook elaborate meals for her family. But this mother of two boys has the distinction of being the first woman Air Commodore in the Indian Air Force.
Padmavati's achievements are many. She was the only woman in the batch of officers to join the Air Force in 1968, and the first female doctor to join the Air Force, in the new medical wing. Padmavati and her husband Air Commodore S.N. Bandopadhyay were the first wife and husband team to be awarded a special service medal for their work during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
Again, the Air Commodore was the first female officer in the Indian Air Force to do a special study of the Arctic region. She was also the first woman to be made a fellow of the Aerospace Medical Society of India, an institution that deals with a very advanced form of medicine.
It was in 1962 that Padmavati joined the Air Force Medical College, at the time of the Indo-China war. Born into a Tamil family, she remembers her childhood as being normal, like most children's. Far from being a dare-devil in childhood, she remembers being the cry-baby who burst into tears every time she was upset.
The news of her joining the Air Force shocked many, including her mother. Her relatives were sure no one would marry her. Today, these very people can't stop congratulating her.
Right from the beginning Padmavati showed that she had the mental toughness to rise to the top of her profession. Along the way, she learnt to speak fluently in English and Hindi, and was comfortable eating with forks and knives. She preferred to learn rather than feel sorry for herself.
And even today, Padmavati is ready to take on any challenge.
Flying Officer Gunjan Saxena:First indian woman to fly in war zone of kargil in 1999
Flying Officer Gunjan Saxena is among the few women pilots in the IAF. Saxena was the first Woman IAF Officer to fly in a Combat Zone when she took part in the Kargil conflict. FIFTEEN years ago, when Gunjan Saxena first set foot into the cockpit of an aircraft, she felt as if she had stepped into the sky. It was the momentous beauty outside that became her source of inspiration. It was this inspiration which motivated her to guide her helicopter, dodging artillery shells through the steep valleys of Kargil as a Flying Officer in the Indian Air Force. Presently in Lucknow on a short vacation to visit her parents, the first ever woman lady pilot of Indian Air Force who proved her mettle in Operation Vijay, has not only stepped into celebritydom but maybe also history as the Kargil girl.
Not yet accustomed to the new found celebrity status and all the attention it brings, the diminutive girl in blue jeans and T- shirt could pass off for any young collegian. Says Gunjan matter-of-factly, dismissing it to be a great feat: "It was just by chance that I was posted in Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir at that time and was sent on the operation. I was just doing my work." Modesty and smiles it seems come easy to the 25-year-old, who is quick to admit that it was the constant encouragement of her father which has made her touch the skies, literally. "He would always tell me and my elder brother that he wanted us to ride from a tricycle to an airplane. And when as a fifth grader I was shown a cockpit by a cousin who happened to be an Indian Airlines pilot, I decided that I only wanted to fly," says she, adding that following her schooling she moved on to New Delhi to join the Safdarjung Flying Club while doing her graduation from Hansraj College.
Commissioned into the Indian Air Force in 1996, Gunjan has since then been posted in Udhampur and included in Kargil operations due to her familiarity with the sector. "Our job is primarily FAC (Forward Area Control) guiding fighters to recognise target, casualty evacuation and air maintenance. During the Kargil operations we had to fly 7 to 8 sorties every day and it was always there at the back of our mind that someone was desperately waiting for us and even if we are late by a couple of minutes, it might cost a life," she said, pointing out that all through the Kargil operations she had to fly the chopper through the valleys and watch artillery shells fall left and right. And the most memorable moment for her was when she saw the first shell fall. "It was June 5, I remember walking towards the helipad with another officer and my brother who is in the Army and was posted at Kargil at that time. We heard a strange sound which I had never heard before, and my brother said that a shell will fall nearby. A few moments later it fell a kilometre away, and of course from then onwards I got rather accustomed to the sound," she says with a laugh. "I was just a part of the rotating crew and doing my job when the press people started coming. `Outlook' first took my interview and then the other newspapers," she remarked, showing the October issue of `Savvy' magazine with her on the cover as the Savvy woman of the month.
One of the pioneering lady pilots among the 25 to 30 odd ones in the IAF, Gunjan opted for the helicopter section rather than the transportation division. "I can do mountain flying, sea flying and desert flying and visit places nobody has ever been to. The Cheetah helicopter I fly is very versatile and can land on even very small makeshift helipads," Gunjan adds with all enthusiasm. But then, she reminds, the job is not as rosy as many people think. "Even the training itself requires a lot of physical as well as mental resilience. And then even on the job people do not know how to react to you, and one has to also sometimes face bias," says she, remembering to add that any girl opting for the air force should be totally oriented and dedicated for the job.
Life is of course not without its share of amusing incidents. Gunjan recounts the attention she got after flying with a senior officer to a remote Kashmir village. A large number of villagers turned up, only to see what a woman pilot looks like! "Yet another funny incident was after my photograph appeared in `Outlook' which featured me with an AK-47 which we normally carried during the war. I actually had people asking me on the streets that where was my AK-47," says Gunjan with an uproarious laughter. A frequent visitor to Lucknow where her parents settled a few years back, what Gunjan never misses out on her vacations is the `basket chaat' and `kulfi faluda', before flying off to touch the sky.
Flight Lieutenant Supriya Gurjar
For a girl who had always dreamt of taking to the air, setting a precedent in the scintillating world of flying was nothing out of the blue. At the height of Operation Vijay, Flight Lieutenant Supriya Gurjar of No 48 Squadron here, became the first woman pilot to command an operational sortie to the world's two highest airfields - Thoise and Leh. She is among the three women pilots posted at the Chandigarh Air Force Station, all of whom fly AN-32 transport aircraft. Never before has a woman pilot captained a military transport or a commercial aircraft landing at such an altitude. Though women pilots, both IAF and civil, have been flying to these airfields, both located at over 10,000 meters above sea-level, heretofore they had not flown there "solo", which implies that they have never issued inflight instructions or shouldered full responsibility for a sortie.
Flt Lt Supriya flew solo to Thoise on June 19, with an aircrew of four and a mixed load of supplies and armed forces personnel. The next day she was again in the left hand captain's seat on a sortie to Leh. "The orders to fly solo come more as a relief than an apprehension," said the 26-year-old flier who logs an average of 70 flying hours a month. "The flight was generally uneventful, the only problem being that wind turbulence in Thoise Valley had increased by about 15 knots during approach." With a war on, there was, however, little time for any celebration. "I knew that it was a precedent, but there are so many more important things on your mind," she said. On her feelings after touchdown, she said: "My colleagues congratulated me, but with operational commitments, there was little time to think about anything else." Her husband, Flt Lt Shreya Shukla, too had been on deployment in Kargil at that time.
Daughter of a Pune-based consultant and married to a fighter pilot, who also happens to be posted at Chandigarh, Flt Lt Supriya is the first in her family to opt for a career in the Services. "My father used to take me to the airshows in Pune when I was a kid. I remember MiG-21s being based there then and the aerobatics they performed were enthralling. Ever since I had dreamt of being at the controls of an aircraft," she said. She said she had planned to go in for commercial flying, but by the time her graduation was nearing completion, the Air Force had opened the Flying Branch to women. "Although entry of women officers for ground duty had already been on for some time, I had not opted for that because I was interested only in flying," she said. Belonging to the 2nd Batch of IAF women pilots, she was commissioned into the IAF in June 1995. "Flying in the mountains is a challenge because of the weather and the terrain. It is also the feeling you get on drop sorties -- when you communicate with the eager troops retrieving the supplies -- you feel satisfied that you are doing your bit for the chaps on the ground," she remarked.
Flt. Lt. Archana Kapoor
"IAF - It's All Fun". Those were the words of my father, which inspired me to join the Air Force Academy in July 1993 as part of the first batch of women pilots in the Indian Air Force. 17th December 1994 was the culmination of one and a half years of hard work. It was also the day when I felt special pride as my father watched me don the same uniform and wings that he once wore.
The training in the air force is an experience in itself. It combines moments of fun with unrelenting pressure to perform. The training endeavours to make us professionals as well as good officers. Living together with trainees from all over the country from different backgrounds instills a great sense of camaraderie amongst us. This is the hallmark of the defence services and therefore sets it apart from any other career. The rigorous routine of physical training, flying training and social manners creates the final product of a well-groomed air force officer. The actual challenge for me began once I joined my unit as a commissioned officer. I knew that I was stepping into what had been a male domain for over 60 years. It was important for me to make a place for myself. It was a challenge for me to be just one woman working amongst so many men. A majority of my colleagues and seniors welcomed me with great enthusiasm and helped me feel comfortable and at home.
There were also those who initially had reservations towards my presence. That was understandable, but soon they too accepted me as a colleague. It is important to understand that above the occupation of a pilot is that of an officer. While flying is one part of the job, the other as an officer entails a whole gamut of activities such as conducting oneself in a pleasant manner while dealing with matters which require compassion and equally stern with matters of professional concern like flying, where there is no room for complacency. Over the years, I have grown in experience and confidence as an administrator as well as a manager of men and resources. The job as a pilot in the air force has been a very satisfying experience for me. It generates tremendous sense of pride in me to know that I have been flying with an institution that excels in it. Military aviation being very different from the civil, the varied requirements give an excellent opportunity to experience the thrill of flying in different roles. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have performed aerobatics on jets and also experienced the adventure of landing on far-flung airfields all over the country.
Monotony is a word redundant in the context of flying in the Air Force. It is pertinent to say that the job is not an easy one as you lead your men by example. Flying, as a job, requires tremendous concentration and discipline due to the risk involved. It also requires continuous updating of knowledge to keep abreast with the latest developments. I have flown for over 1400 hours, and today, I can confidently say that my acceptability has grown and I too am well adjusted within the organisation. Besides being an officer and a pilot, I am also a wife and a mother. My help and support comes from my husband, Flt Lt AK Yadav who is the perfect gentleman, officer and pilot. He has been a pillar of strength whose encouragement eggs me on to continue doing well in my job as well as at home. He puts in an equal, if not more, effort in ensuring that our child and home is well looked after. At the same time, both our parents also render us maximum support, which makes it easier for us to perform our duties.
In the services, the social life and the closeness that exists between people is exemplary. Whereas in big cities, interpersonal relationships seem to be suffering a setback due to the fast pace of life, in the air force, social life is pleasantly congenial. My personal experiences with people have been, by and large, good through all the years of my service. I can say with conviction that I have enjoyed my life and work in the air force. It is an excellent opportunity open to the women of our country to actively participate in the defence services while doing something as exciting and exhilarating as flying. At the same time, it also requires a high degree of discipline and willingness to weather tough situations, which arise from time to time. (The Hindu 12/4/2000)
Last edited by ajtr; 29-03-10 at 06:39 AM.
PREETHA REDDY:Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals
49, MD, Apollo Hospitals Group
As a young girl she was devoted to dancing and was a disciple of Rukmini Arundale at Kalakshetra. A power to reckon with in the organised healthcare business, she got into it quite by accident. Preetha did not join family-owned Apollo Hospitals till 1989 – some 10 years after having stayed home. From Rs 110 crore when she took over, she has steered the business close to Rs 1,000 crore last year. A hands-on person, she attributes her learning to the workplace and takes care to listen and learn from people 'senior' in experience.
ME, MYSELF: I was lucky to be born at the right time, at the right place. But I did not let that get into my head. I am where I am today because of my willpower and focus. Healthcare delivery is my vision, but I don't lose focus that I am also running a business.
CHALLENGES: It takes time to build trust. When I started working, the hospital business was purely male-dominated. Bringing any kind of change or a new set of ideas was a tough call for me. I faced great difficulties in bringing a professional approach to healthcare. But I realised earlier in life that winds of change can only be brought about by patience and firmness.
SECRET TIPS: There are no shortcuts to success. Take a complete approach to whatever you do. Learn to prioritise; it makes juggling work and home easier. Moreover, stay committed to your goals and make a difference!
Once you start something, you've to nurture it till the end. Don't predict because there's very little you can do about the future. So, keep delivering till you convince yourself that your future is secure.
I TELL MYSELF: When I visit hospitals, I see so much pain and suffering around me that I tell myself –I don't have the business to feel sad about myself.
MOTIVATING MANTRA: There are millions of others who'd like to be in my shoes. I should count myself lucky that I have the power to bring a change in the world, however miniscule that might be.
KEEP WALKING: Many times I feel like throwing up my hands in the air and giving it all up. But I tell myself, I'll do that only when the time is right and the business is in safe hands. I am not hooked to anything, but at the same time, I won't give up just for the sake of giving up
SULAJJA FIRODIA MOTWANI:MD, Kinetic Engineering
There's something about Sulajja and bikes! It was while zooming down the streets of California in a Ducati that she met her husband, Manish. It was motorcycles again that helped her turn around the fortunes of a worn-out moped manufacturer, Kinetic Engineering. The turning point of her life came when she gave a totally new image to the humble scooter. Stylish and slick, she is as good as her 'kick-ass bikes'. When not doing business, she goes scuba diving or kickboxing. And this MBA from Carnegie Mellon University still loves to test ride her bikes!
ME, MYSELF: I am just another hardworking professional. My life revolves around my work and family. CHALLENGES I There are misconceptions that as an owner, I can decide when to work and when not to, or perhaps that it is glamorous to be a business tycoon; but in reality, I face the same challenges as others do. One deals with many challenges in general, but not any particular one based on my gender really.
SECRET TIPS: Stay fit. As working women, many priorities and responsibilities demand our attention, energy and time. Have a positive attitude and always wear a smile – the most important accessory for a professional. When at the top, the buck stops at you. When you work for others, you can play the blame game, but when you are heading an organisation, you are responsible for finding solutions to all problems, and that can be nervewracking!
I TELL MYSELF: I must lose a couple of more pounds! (Seriously) I thank God for the opportunities He has given me.
MOTIVATING MANTRA: I think your source of motivation has to be from within and it changes with time. For me, in the beginning, it was my entrepreneurial spirit, which got me going. Later, I loved the fact that I lived by my own choices and wanted to rule the world! I think now, it is all of this and also a large sense of responsibility as a leader that motivates me.
KEEP WALKING: My motto is – tomorrow will be a better day! I grab a nice book or watch a feel-good movie and go to bed. Then I always wake up feeling better the next day. To tell you the truth, there are many challenging days, but one learns to deal with them eventually.
KALPANA MORPARIA:Joint MD, ICICI Bank
ME, MYSELF: Whatever success I have today would have been mine anyway. Life's a hard taskmaster, but I can beat it at its own game if I am steadfast in my goals.
CHALLENGES: You've got to tune it out. If someone has an issue that I'm a woman, that's their issue. You are an entrepreneur before anything else. Sometimes I get a kick that I sit there in these big strategy sessions and there's a bunch of men and me. It's kind of flattering. I just wish there were more women doing this and it wasn't an anomaly.
SECRET TIPS: You have to be passionate about the product or service you're offering. You also have to make sure it's a product other people either need or really want. Then you have to figure out how to let people know about it. There's a lot of learning and mistakes in anything you do. Make sure you have the foundation built before you build the house. Try to boil down what you're doing to one very simple idea. And ask a lot of questions. That's the nature of being an entrepreneur. It doesn't matter if you come from a farm or if you went to Harvard Business School. The fact is, you don't know anything until you're doing it.
I TELL MYSELF: No position I am in can be attributed to the fact that I am a woman! For the male CEO, do not underestimate the women at work. You never know, when she'll pull the ground beneath your feet!
MOTIVATING MANTRA: At the helm of affairs at the bank, even today, I am proud to say that I've remained the same person. My interaction with colleagues still has that human and emotional touch. Stereotypes are myths. If you are a good entrepreneur, your entrepreneurship will show the way you run your household as a housewife.
KEEP WALKING: I know I am not married to the bank and would have to retire one day, but even then I'll not hang up my boots.
SWATI PIRAMALirector, Strategic Alliances and Communications, Nicholas Piramal
In an age when Indian women were cajoled into opting for science in college by over-ambitious parents, Swati was already in the midst of her test tubes and Bunsen burners, dreaming of a biotech empire. She married into one of Mumbai's oldest textile business families. Passionate about research, this geneology-gifted doctor knew that converting a century-old textile business house into healthcare business was a tough call when she and husband, Ajay Piramal, bought Nicholas Laboratories in 1988 for $4 million. But deliver she did. Today with her stamp on every company decision, Nicholas Piramal India has become one of the leading life sciences and pharmaceutical companies in India, with over $350 million turnover.
ME, MYSELF: My self-esteem, confidence and strong belief in myself have helped me to be where I am today.
CHALLENGES: Sometimes, due to situations, sticking to your conviction and beliefs may be a challenge. You may have bouts of self-doubt, but you have to work to overcome the "I don't know how to do that because I wasn't taught that in school" mentality. You just have to take a deep breath and go beyond that and rely on your personality and strength.
SECRET TIPS: Being at the top is not enough, because you'll soon realise it's so lonely up there. Therefore, it's better if you try and utilise your position to bring a difference to the world. Success is like manna from heaven. It falls on the lap of those who are lucky to seek it out. Don't blame the situation or circumstances you are in. Try and squeeze every bit out of your circumstances and make the most out of it.
MOTIVATING MANTRA: The Upanishad says: "Whatever you dream you have to will, whatever you will is your deed and whatever your deed is your destiny." Dream big and try and find out means and ways to turn it into reality.
KEEP WALKING: Dreams come from within you. So don't stop dreaming
PREETI VYAS GIANNETTI:Creative Director & CEO, Vyas Giannetti Creative
It was in 1997 when Preeti started her firm with one computer and one person. At that time she was the only woman boss in the Indian ad world. Ten years later, she's still the queen of the Indian ad world - the only woman CEO who is also the creative head of an ad firm. The brain behind the most expensive advertisement ever made for an Indian company, the commercial for the Aditya Birla Group, the global footprint of the ad tells a lot about its creator. The Economic Times Rankings 2005, placed her at No.7 in the 'creative directors' ranking. Today, her firm has an enviable blue-chip client list with capitalised billings of over $40 million.
ME, MYSELF: I don't mind working hard, the endgame is more important for me. I am proud that I have dumped my pin-striped pants and have achieved the heights, comfortable with my bejewelled self and chiffon blouses!
CHALLENGES: What's been a challenge for me is to try and not think like a man. I am in a workspace, which is a man's playground and I tend to act like a man. At times, I stop myself short of behaving like them out of fear that I'd be an outcast. I've learnt to overcome that. You just have to take a deep breath and go beyond the gender play and rely on your personality and strength.
SECRET TIPS: We all have the potential within us. It's just a matter of unleashing it. A creative person never has any problems – be it a man or a woman. In my field though, a woman's touch is more appreciated as she has this innate capability of relating to a client's ideas and delivering them.
I TELL MYSELF: There's enough occupying your energy, your space and your objectives to worry about and focus on. I've just never thought of myself as a woman. I think of myself as a businessperson at work.
MOTIVATING MANTRA: My turning point in life came the day I removed my pin-striped suit. The more I thought like a man, the more I messed up things. Now I am much better when it comes to integrating the organisation or my people.
KEEP WALKING: I believe in karma yog. I do things by checking out with my inner self. Once I am happy with what I've done, I surrender it. It relieves me of stress and anxiety and helps me move on to the next project.
NEELAM DHAWAN: MD, Microsoft India
Don't be beguiled by her mom's-best-friend look. Just a look at her résumé and those hung-in-theair jaws will refuse to snap into place. HP, IBM, HCL and Microsoft - she's worked for them all! Neelam is a true blue Delhiite. Not only was this business management graduate born and raised in Delhi, she even completed her studies and embarked on her career here. She chucked up a cushy job with HCL's foreign operations in the US and returned to India as she "missed home". This crossword-solving, music lover is not only a pioneering figure in the IT industry but is also counted as one of the world's most powerful women in business.
ME, MYSELF: I've always thought ahead and outside the box, pushed the envelope, worked sincerely and very hard. I don't think there is any other route to success.
CHALLENGES: No challenges really on account of my being a woman. I have always considered myself a professional first and a woman second, and I think that makes a difference. If you don't ask to be treated differently, you get treated professionally and at par with your male colleagues. I think being an entrepreneur is as challenging for a man as it is for a woman so there are no gender issues.
SECRET TIPS: Always prioritise and never compromise for anything less than the best. People respect you if you "walk the talk " and empathise with them and respect them for their abilities. To be successful you have to be ambitious, have great staying power, risk-taking ability, combined with good organising and management skills. And of course, be self-motivated.
I TELL MYSELF: Let's go out and win them!
MOTIVATING MANTRA: A challenging assignment, which taxes my skills
KEEP WALKING: This too will pass. Tomorrow is another day.
Jayashree Vaidhyanathanirector, HCL Technologies, Chennai
Director, unit head of business consulting services, HCL Technologies
Even in the brave new wired world, managers are mostly male. But things are changing. The 34-year-old Jayashree Vaidhyanathan, director and unit head of business consulting services at HCL Technologies in Chennai is setting new trends in this otherwise conservative city.
Always at the top of he class, Vaidhyanathan was also a keen debater, excelled at music, essay writing and other cultural pursuits. "From six to 16; those were my musical years," she muses. Her mother, Sundari, is from Thiruvaiyaru and one of her forefathers had started the Thiagaraja Aradana there. It was natural that Vaidhyanathan should learn Carnatic classical music. She was always asked to sing at school functions. After Std 12, she decided to do her graduation in computer science. Her ultimate aim was to get a management degree.
With her engineering degree in hand, Vaidhyanathan joined Visakapatanam Steel Plant as a management trainee in 1992. "I wanted to get at least three years work experience, so that I could get into an Ivy League business school in America, she says." A year later she flew to US to join the Household Finance Corporation; one step closer to her dream.
Soon, she joined Cornell University's management institute, majoring in finance and strategy in 1996. She also completed a chartered financial analyst's course. Her dream of becoming a Wall Street investment banker came true with an offer from CIBC World Markets to join the company as an associate. She was assigned to scout and execute merger and acquisition (M&A) deals and, within six months of joining the company, got her first promotion.
In U.S she met and married Venkatraman, in 1994 and later "We both got our US citizenship, while our son Pranav was a naturalised American," she explains.
It was then that she met HCL Technologies CFO Arun Duggal in London. She sold him her idea that HCL Technologies should get into the business consulting space. He was impressed by her credentials and her plans and, when others in the company also bought into the idea, she was hired.
Jayashree Vaidhyanathan's ultimate personal goal is to make it to the Forbes list of women achievers. If that happens, she will be the first madisar mami to figure in the list.
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi can tell you a thing or two about breaking glass ceilings. She let nothing stand in her way to becoming the head of PepsiCo, the fourth-largest food and beverage company in the world. Nooyi is indeed an inspiration to all Indian women, indeed, to all women worldwide.
But her list of achievements doesn?t end at being head of PepsiCo. In 2006, Fortune magazine ranked Nooyi No. 1 in its list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. The same year, Forbes magazine ranked her the fourth most powerful woman on earth, after Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany), Condoleezza Rice (US Secretary of State) and Wu Yi (Vice-Premier of China).
Nooyi certainly wasn?t born with a silver spoon in her mouth. After graduating from Chennai, she went on to acquire degrees from IIM Calcutta and the Yale School of Management. She began her career at Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm, and went on to hold senior positions in companies such as Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri. She later joined PepsiCo and swiftly rose through the ranks to become its CEO in August last year.
At PepsiCo, Nooyi was instrumental in spinning off fast-food restaurants KFC and Pizza Hut in 1997 to create a separate company called Yum Brands. She has been also been responsible for charting the way for PepsiCo?s acquisition of Tropicana.
Nooyi has never lost sight of her Indian roots and values. She learnt the hard way that it?s best not to hide what you are when she went for her first interview in an ill-fitting business suit and was turned down for the job. She wore a sari for the next interview and was selected. Today, Nooyi is seen at most Pepsi functions in a sari.
Radha Ramaswami Basu:Tioga Systems as CEO
Ms. Basu comes to Tioga with 20 years of experience at HP, where she held a variety of senior management positions. In her recent position as general manager of the Electronic Business Software Organization in HP's Computer Business, she was responsible for Internet software products and frameworks that provide E-Business solutions to customers and channel partners worldwide. Ms. Basu left HP in January 1999 to engage in strategic and investment consulting for Internet startup companies.
Ms. Basu holds a bachelor of engineering degree from the University of Madras and a master's degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Southern California. She attended the Stanford Business School Executive Management Program in 1992. Ms. Basu is on the board of directors of SEEC, Inc. (Nasdaq:SEEC), a company that specializes in solutions for e-legacy to e-business migration, and Connectinc.com (Nasdaq:CNKT), an Internet e-commerce company for NetMarketmakers.
Radha Ramaswami Basu combines in her persona so many different strands President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of California-based Support.com, initiator of an organization for helping battered women, wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, cricket fan and gracious hostess. Above all, that extra element to her personality is her search for the spiritual dimension to life that reveals itself in her trekking and explorations of the mysteries of the great mountains.
The accolades for her achievements bear witness to her business achievements. She is the winner of San Francisco Women on the Web Leader of the Millennium award in 2000, for advancing the number of women on the Internet to nearly half the Internet population, and helping women in technology related fields. This was preceded by the Woman of Achievement Award for leadership and vision in the corporate field in 1995 and the Excelsior Leadership Award in 1997.
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