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eWIT Sixth Anniversary – 27 April 2012

eWIT conducted its 6th Anniversary event on April 27, 2012 at Royal Le Meridian Hotel, Guindy, between 2.30pm and 5.30pm. The theme of the event was ‘Women in Leadership – Are We There Yet?’ The speakers for the event were Ms Nirmala Gopalakrishnan, Head - Training Operations and Process consulting Hexaware Technologies, Mr. Mohan Narayanaswamy,
Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer iNautix Technologies India Pvt Ltd., Ms Srimathi Shivshankar, AVP - Diversity and Sustainability HCL Technologies, Chennai, and Mr Uppili Srinivasan, Partner & Head Intellect Global Transaction Banking  Polaris Software, Chennai.

Ms. Priyadharshini of Ford, a volunteer MC for the event welcomed the speakers and the guests. Ms. Kalyani Narayanan, eWIT President, delivered the Presidential Address. In her address, Ms Kalyani Narayanan gave presentation on eWIT, its journey so far, and the future focus of the forum. 

Ms. Deborah Devadason, a volunteer MC from Mahindra Satyam, welcomed Ms. Vijayalakshmi Rao, Advisor, eWIT, to take over to moderate the speakers’ session. Ms. Vijayalakshmi Rao introduced the speakers, invited them to the dais, and briefed the audience on the theme for the evening. Her first question was ‘Do women make effective leaders? Do they lack the required qualities, or do they hesitate to take on leadership roles? She invited Mr. Mohan Narayanaswamy to share his thoughts on the topic.

Mr. Mohan Narayanaswamy, the first speaker, affirmed that every woman has a plethora of leadership qualities. He said that banking, HR, and quality are fields where women are already at the top level. He stated that women do not lack the leadership skills, but felt that women in the middle level need training and mentoring to reach top level. He said women are already in top-level leadership roles, and those who have not, do not need anyone’s help to reach there.

Ms. Vijayalakshmi Rao then posed a question to the next speaker, Ms. Nirmala Gopalakrishnan. ‘Are men ready to accept women in leadership roles?’ 

Ms. Nirmala communicated that women have been at the top since 300BC. There are several leadership roles where woman’s presence is inevitable, like raising a family. If majority of women are not found in leadership roles, it is because of their own decision and the need to be able to balance home and career, as the latter requires more time and sometimes erratic hours.   Whenever needed, the homemaker (the woman) has always stepped up to fulfill family responsibilities, but never the man. Women need no training or mentoring, they are born leaders, but the men should be ready to allow women to reach the top.

Ms. Vijayalakshmi Rao’s next insight was on the notion that women excel in some roles, such as quality / HR / Audit, but do not in some others – like operations, sales, etc. Why is it so? She requested Mr. Uppili Srinivasan to share his thoughts on this.

Mr. Uppili agreed with Ms. Vijajalakshmi Rao’s statement and pointed out that it is stress that stops women from growing, as they prioritize differently. Most women choose roles, which do not compromise on their family time. It is a matter of choice. He also stated that unfortunately, the choices available for men are very different from those available for women. Our society sets the stage for women, which puts most of them to disadvantage.

He further added that a CFO or a CEO gets elevated to the company’s board, while personnel from Quality or HR may not be the prime choice for an organization. Success for women need not be only at corporate level, and a woman can be successful as a homemaker also. 

The next speaker, Ms. Srimathi Shivashankar, came up with data from several articles about gender inclusivity, women beliefs, and the state. She requested eWIT to work on the data. She affirmed women are capable of taking as well as managing more stress than men are. Women’s choices, mostly of placing family first, are often misused. Ms. Srimathi feels that at home, for most women, men take the important decisions. This is the way society works. She quoted that only 18% women in urban India work, whereas in rural areas, 83% of women work. It is not that women have not been working to support spouses and families, but in our society, it is expected that women’s choices, freedom and voice be controlled by men. Women have been the epitome of empowerment, but it is the society that does not allow them to unleash their potential. There is no end to women empowerment, but women are always seen giving up their choices for men. Our society that needs to change its outlook, not women.  

The Q&A session that followed was interactive with questions and suggestions. Women felt their spouses should be invited to such events, which will be eye opener for them.

Mr. Senthil Kumar, CFO, Excelacom, the souvenir sponsor, released copies of 6th anniversary souvenir and Ms. Shobana of Take Solutions received a copy from him.

The eWIT Excellence Award 2012 prizes were distributed to the winners of the competition.  Cognizant sponsored the awards.

The evening ended with a vote of thanks by Ms. Rama Sivaraman, Vice President – eWIT.
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