Breaking Barriers, Janaki Krishnan, Jaico Books, Pp191, Rs 195.00
THOUGH there is a poor representation of professional women at the senior levels in the corporate sector and in business, one sees a marked increase in female entrepreneurs in many professional streams. This shortcoming could be a case due to the struggle a woman has to make to manage a career and personal or family commitments simultaneously. While some have succeeded in striking a balance between the two, there are countless many who find the challenges too many to confront.
This book presents short inspiring portraits of 12 women who had the determination and drive to break barriers in the male-dominated fields and succeed in their respective careers simply due to their hard work, desire to learn and take advantage of the opportunities that came their way. They happily juggled their roles of daughter, souse, mother and caregiver, working both at home and outside. It, however, is sad to find that in India, women make up about 35 per cent of the total workforce in the country, despite constituting roughly 50 per cent of the population.
Normally a girl child is brought up on the notion that her main aim in life is to get married and start a family – that is her defining destiny because a career is seen as secondary only. Here one is happy to read about Ishita Swarup, founder and CEO of 99labels.com, which sells branded apparel and lifestyle accessories on her online portal. She subliminally gives the message that she could have a career but it would always be secondary to that of her family. She graduated in management, launched Orion Dialog where, “I made all the mistakes that I possibly could in this time. That was my learning school.” She adopted a baby girl and continued to look after her while working in her “liquidation company for their excess inventory.”
Another remarkable woman is Jessie Paul, CEO, of Paul Writer Strategic Services, who graduated in computer science from Trichy and after acquiring experience at Ogilvy & Matter, joined Infosys followed by Wipro to start Paul Writer Strategic Services in January 2010. She loves managing and hosting conferences, though the basic “output is writing the marketing plan for a client.”
Dr Suman Sahai, founder of Gene Campaign and a genetics scientist working in the University of Heidelberg in Germany, returned to India to take up the cudgels on behalf of the farmers, representing rural India, under the umbrella of her organisation.
Vandana Luthra, started VLCC Healthcare despite being married into a conservative family. She started with 12 persons but now employs 6,000 people across India and overseas.
Uma Ganesh, founder of global Talent Tracks, passed out from FMS before working at NIIT and Aptech to gain experience. She started her own organisation where job aspirants are trained also company employees and in her words, “Our job is to be a lifelong partner with the candidates rather than just stepping at making them employable.”
Renuka Ramnath, CEO, Alternate Asset Management, spent 23 years in the ICICI group before launching her own private equity firm in 2009 and has the backing of Indian banks, financial institutions and overseas investors, including pension funds.
After reading about the lives of these women, who refused to succumb to family or societal pressures, one is pleased to find that women are emerging out of their cocooned existence to make a mark, though they have yet a long way to go.
(Jaico Books, A-2 Jash Chambers, 7-A Sir Phirozshah Mehta Road, Fort, Mumbai 400001; www.jaicobooks.com)