The 4th Annual Women Leadership Summit was successfully held at IIM Bangalore on the 13th of January 2018. Organised by the student-run Women in Management Club (WIM) of IIM Bangalore, the theme for this year was ‘Redefining Power for a Newer Tomorrow ‘. With attendees including both women and men across all age groups and sectors, the summit saw the participants benefit out of experiences shared by the eminent speakers and panelists.
Ms. Vinita Bali, Former MD & CEO, Britannia India, was the Chief Guest for the day and shared lessons from her own experience gathered across more than 75 countries. She emphasized that her success can be attributed to her unwillingness to let stereotypes bother her and her focus in letting her work speak for itself. Narrating an anecdote from her stint in Latin America and Nigeria, she said that inspite of having little consumer knowledge, she could expand the business due to her solid knowledge about branding and marketing. Hence, the importance of foundation and confidence to adapt. She concluded saying that what is most relevant in a workplace is one’s skill, attitude, competency and experience and not “skill and quality” as it currently is.
The first keynote speaker, Ms. Malavika Harita, CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi Focus, spoke about 27 ways to be a wonder woman. Explaining each of them by sharing anecdotes from her personal experience, she urged the audience to build their own identity, independent of what others might say. With the ways discussed focussing on communicating better, balancing priorities, continuously learning and staying confident, she concluded saying that strength of character is crucial as it is what determines how one faces challenges with dignity.
The second keynote speaker for the day, Ms. Nirmala Sankaran, CEO, HeyMath!, spoke about impediments to progressive career growth. Speaking about how ambivalence about ambition, confidence gap and invisibility do not let one overcome their inhibitions, she gave an insight into how one can overcome these to chart their way to building a successful enterprise. “Future-proofing oneself is key”, she concluded.
The panel discussion on “Networking & Self-Promotion: Women need to do more!” was moderated by Dr. Dahlia Mani, Professor, IIM Bangalore and had eminent guests on the panel including Ms. Lakshmi Ishwar, Director, Cerebral Consultancy & Chairperson, FLO, Bangalore, Ms. Wilma Rodrigues, Co-Founder & CEO, Saahas Zero Waste and Ms. Sneha Priya, Co-founder & CEO, SP Robotic Works. With panelists coming from diverse sectors, the narration of each of their journeys was inspirational for the audience. Ms. Sneha elaborated on the challenges faced by women in the technology space and how their firm which started out with a product oriented approach, transcended into a full-fledged business unit. Ms. Wilma elaborated that the ecosystem that was built around her naturally when she began her entrepreneurship journey, was because the work she did spoke for itself. She emphasized on the need to follow-up on connections made and not have it as a mere checklist. Ms. Lakshmi drew realistic parallels between networking and friendships and wonderfully put across that it was important to additionally respond to requests, as if one is a giver, everybody would want them in their circle. She also added that one needs to invest in people and take up leadership responsibilities, as there is no dearth of self-promotion opportunities. Adding to the intellectually stimulating discussion, Prof. Dahlia said that one needs to believe that they promote an idea and not themselves, which will to a great deal help remove inhibitions. Miss. Sneha also explained that finding complementary partners is crucial as it will help build on strengths and cover up weaknesses that we all possess. Answering an attendee’s question as to how one can bring the entire workforce together, from the boardroom to the shop floor, she said that showing people the value they add and how crucial their contributions are, will help keep the company together.
The final event for the day, the workshop on “Power and Independence” was organized by Ms. Meeta Verma, CEO, Worksera and Ms. Nandita Sharma, CEO, Zaivic. The workshop focused on themes freelancing, networking and scaling up home-grown businesses. With engaging activities and Q&A session, the participants found the workshop immensely useful. A participant, Parvathy from Schneider Electric, said that takeaways from the speaker session, panel discussion and workshop are very valuable especially for women who want to be independent and pursue their entrepreneurial journey.
Meghna Shah, Secretary – Women in Management Club at IIMB, said that “The overwhelming participation and success of the Summit is to be attributed completely to the team’s effort. It was very heartening to see participation from both men and women, as this will help in the shattering of mental models and pre-conceived notions faster. We are hoping such intellectually simulating conversations enable women to redefine power for a newer tomorrow, well aligned to the theme of our summit.”