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Will 50 Percent of Indian CEOs be Women by 2020?
ST Team
Friday, August 1, 2008
When Prameela Kalive decided to give up her government job after a six-year stint at the DRDO and enter the corporate world, she walked in for an interview at Zensar Technologies. Everyone was surprised to see that Prameela had brought her one-month-old baby to the interview, along with her credentials. From the challenges of bringing up a young kid and coping with the transition from the snug environment of the government job to the rigorous demands of corporate life, Prameela faced them all. Today she is the Global Head, Human Resource, at Zensar.

A decade ago, when it was not common for women to walk into crowded places like restaurants alone, Sharada Satrasala decided to march into a food joint alone and learn to handle the discomforts of being in a new environment. This attitude to embrace new and challenging situations helped her to climb the corporate ladder and today she is the Director, Strategic Supplier Management, at Texas Instruments.
These two are some of the inspiring stories of top women technology professionals shared at the launch of the Connected Women Leadership Forum on 17 July 2008. The forum launched by Cisco Women Action Network’s (WAN) India chapter aims to establish and build a network of professional women who can share perspectives, expand professional relationships by networking, share common interests, and collaborate with other women in business and technology. The event saw a confluence of over 150 women from various IT organizations.

Be it in education or at workplace, today women have proved time and again that they are second to none when competing with theirs male counterparts. But still they often find themselves stopped by a glass ceiling when they aspire for top leadership roles. The forum found this an apt opportunity to discuss how to empower women and help them pierce this glass barrier.

Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, CEO of Zensar Technologies and chairman of Nasscom, shared his perspectives on ‘Women Leadership’ and stated that currently, the number of women in leadership positions is less than three percent. To improve this scenario, Nasscom has committed to the task of 50 percent women CEOs in IT industry by 2020. He said that cooperation and collaboration, not competition, are important factors for women to attain this goal.

Technology leaders like Geetanjali Kirloskar, Chairperson of India-Japan Initiative; Nagamani Murthy, VP, Wipro; Sharada Satrasala, Director, TI; Vasantha Erraguntala, Head of Design Lab, Intel; Priya Chetty Rajagopal, VP, Stanton Chase International; and Jessie Paul, CMO, Wipro not only shared their career journey and challenges they met but also addressed the audience on career management, improving leadership skills, mentorship and self branding. “The key to succeed in any career is passion and excitement for one’s job and not mere ambition. It does not matter how difficult the task is, we must try and give the best to it,” said Lea King, Senior Director, Cisco Global Center.

Most corporates are now changing their outlook towards the capabilities of women professionals and they now recognize the value their leadership brings to an organization. From giving options to work from home, telecommuting, or providing crèche facilities at office premises, corporates are now more accommodating to make a woman’s work life easy. Now it is unto women to make the most of these opportunities.
WAN India has more than 350 women professionals as members and maintains a business plan, with specific goals in several focus areas that support the company’s business objectives. These include business partnerships, recruitment, development, and professional networking. It also works with Nasscom, in its constant efforts to drive women initiatives and empower women professionals.

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