New Delhi: When five extremely talented women leaders from diverse fields, spanning three generations get together for a conversation on ‘resilient leadership’, the discussions and deliberations are bound to be insightful and interesting in every way. That’s precisely what happened at the forum organised by Goa Institute of Management (GIM) which had personalities who have been trailblazers in their own distinct way.
From facing challenging times and dealing with them to gender neutral practices to encouraging diversity at the workplace and more, the conversations touched upon the many issues individuals and society are faced with when it comes to women taking on leadership roles.
The panelists included, Meera Shankar, Retired Civil Servant and Former Indian Ambassador to USA and Germany; Brinda Somaya, Architect and Urban Conservationist and Founder of SNK India; Dr. Maria Aurora Counto, Writer, Historian and Educationalist; Kshama Fernandes, MD & CEO, Northern Arc and Miti Desai, Classical Dancer, Designer and Founder of Miti Design Lab. The discussion was moderated by Sarita D’Souza, visiting faculty member at GIM.
Her Excellency Smt. Mridula Sinha, Hon’ble Governor of Goa, who was the Chief Guest said in her address, “Women are natural leaders. Empathy is a quality which is the hallmark of every great leader and one which women possess in plenty. I am in the esteemed presence of women leaders spanning three generations; different times call for different leadership qualities.”
Meera Shankar, Retired Civil Servant and Former Indian Ambassador to USA and Germany, speaking on women’s representation said, “There needs to be more conversations on how we can get women to be involved more in the economic framework. There are far less women today in service than there were in the years past. The level of participation of women on corporate boards has been encourages with the government mandating that women need to be included on the board. So also is the case with 33% reservation which has seen women gradually coming to the forefront when it comes to local governance. However, there needs to be a serious debate on encouraging the inclusion of women in the political framework as well”.
Dr. Maria Aurora Counto, Writer, Historian and Educationist commenting on the changes witnessed over the decades said, “Women today face far more challenging times than we did in the past. The household support which existed in the past, just doesn’t exist anymore and the sacrifices are enormous. They may flounder but not fall. I am very proud of what this generation has achieved”.
Kshama Fernandes, MD & CEO, Northern Arc sharing insights on resilient leadership said, “Leadership is not about creating followers, it’s about creating leaders. It’s important to identify one’s personal core values which don’t change irrespective of what else changes”. She advised young professionals to “seek mentorship, invest in training and self-development, encourage diversity in the workplace and to surround one’s self with individuals smarted than yourselves”.
Speaking about her experience as an architect that designs urban spaces and educational campuses, Brinda Somaya, Architect and Urban Conservationist and Founder of SNK India said, “There have been times in the past when I have introduced myself as an architect and minutes later an introduced by someone as an interior designer. Its sometimes difficult for people to fathom that a lady in a saree is able to build buildings. But that’s what I wanted to do. It’s important to follow your heart and do what you love. Everything else follows”.
Miti Desai, Classical Dancer, Designer and Founder of Miti Design Lab, said, “As a leader it’s important to also be a seeker. Clarity, conviction and courage are qualities which a leader embodies.”
Dr. Ajit Parulekar, Director, Goa Institute of Management said “Consistent with the theme of the 25th year celebrations, Principle-Centered Leadership, Goa Institute of Management (GIM) organized a Women’s Leadership Forum on ‘Pathways to Resilient Leadership’. Ethics and values is at the very core of what GIM stands for. This forum is one of the several initiatives undertaken by GIM to celebrate the completion of 25 years of imparting knowledge to the country’s future corporate leaders.”
The event holds added significance given that GIM has always ranked high when it comes to gender diversity. Right from its inception the B-school has had a balanced gender ratio amongst its students. Over forty per cent of the students in the present batch this year are girls.