The glass ceilings are shattered and women are found indulged in every line of business from pappad to power cables. The challenges and opportunities provided to the women of digital era are growing rapidly that the job seekers are turning into job creators. They are flourishing as designers, interior decorators, exporters, publishers, garment manufacturers and still exploring new avenues of economic participation. In India, although women constitute the majority of the total population, the entrepreneurial world is still a male dominated one. Women in advanced nations are recognized and are more prominent in the business world.
The era of women CEOs has arrived and from the looks of it, and it is here to stay. Now, women have been there and done that at the positions that matter for quite sometime. But the last decade or so has seen a drastic change when it comes to the participation of women at the pinnacle of organization hierarchy – specifically MD & CEO positions.
Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
Entrepreneur Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director of Bioon Ltd., who became India’s richest woman in 2004 (an estimated Rs.2,100 crore $480 million), was educated at the Bishop Cotton Girls School and Mount Carmel College in Bangalore. She founded Biocon India with a capital of Rs.10,000 in her garage in 1978 — the initial operation was to extract an enzyme from papaya. Her application for loans were turned down by banks then on three counts — biotechnology was then a new word, the company lacked assets, and (most importantly) women entrepreneurs were still a rarity. Today, her company is the biggest biopharmaceutical firm in the country. In 2006, Shaw caused a few Page 3 ruffles after a much hyped photograph showed her in an embrace and lip-lock with senior BJP leader Vasundhara Raje Scinidia.
Ekta Kapoor, creative head of Balajji Telefilms, is the daughter of actor Jeetendra, and sister of actor Tushar Kapoor. She has been synonymous with the rage of soap operas on Indian TV, after her most famous venture Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, which started airing on STAR Plus in 2000. Ekta dominates Indian television, producing more than eight television soaps. At the 6th Indian Telly Awards 2006, she bagged the Hall of Fame award for her contributions. Most of her creations begin with the letter “K” due to her superstition that it brings her good luck.
Sunita Narain, an environmentalist and political activist as well as a major proponent of the Green concept of sustainable development, was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India in 2005. Narain, who has been with the India-based Center for Science and Environment since 1982, is currently the director of the Center, and the director of the Society for Environmental Communications, and publisher of the fortnightly magazine, “Down to Earth.”
Neelam Dhawan, Microsoft India managing director, leads Microsoft’s sales and marketing operations in the country. A Stephenian (graduated in 1980), she passed out of Delhi’s Faculty of Management Studies in 1982. Back then, while she was keen to join FMCG majors like Hindustan Lever and Asian Paints, both companies rejected Dhawan as they did not want to appoint women for marketing.
Naina Lal Kidwai
Naina Lal Kidwai was the first Indian woman to graduate from the Harvard Business School. Fortune magazine listed Kidwai among the World’s Top 50 Corporate Women from 2000 to 2003. According to the Economic Times, she is the first woman to head the operations of a foreign bank in India (HSBC). Kidwai was awarded the Padma Shri this year.
Sulajja Firodia Motwani
Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Joint Managing Director of Kinetic Engineering Ltd., is in-charge of the company’s overall business developmental activities. She is also the Director of Kinetic Motor Company Limited and Kinetic Marketing Services Limited. A fitness freak and avid sports enthusiast, she even played badminton at the national level. The magazine, India Today has honored her with the title of business “Face of the Millennium.” She was ranked among the top 25 business entrepreneurs of the country,and was also presented with the Society Young Achiever’s Award for Business in 2002. The same year, she was chosen as the “Global Leader of Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum.
Mallika Srinivasan, Director of TAFE India (her husband is automobile tycoon Venu Srinivasan, CMD of TVS Motors) was named Businesswoman of the Year in 2006. When she joined the company in 1986, its turnover was Rs.85 crore, and at the time of her award,TAFE and its allied companies were earning revenues of Rs.2,900 crore. A couple of years after her marriage in 1982, and less than a year after her daughter was born, Srinivasan went to Wharton to pursue her MBA. It’s no surprise that TAFE also runs hospitals and schools. A serious votary of woman power, Srinivasan says women’s contribution to society has often been underestimated.
Dr. Jatinder Kaur Arora
Dr. Jatinder Kaur Arora, an outstanding scientist from Punjab, was conferred a national award for her work on women’s development through science and technology. Dr. Arora, perhaps the first scientist to get such an award, is a doctorate in microbiology and has a brilliant academic record. An unlikely and fairly new contender on this list, she is serving as a joint director in the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology at present.
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, chairman and executive officer of PepsiCo, was according to Forbes magazine’s 2006 poll, the fourth most powerful woman in the world. She was also named the #1 Most Powerful Woman in Business in 2006 by Fortune magazine. She got her bachelor’s degree from Madras Christian College in 1974, entered the Business Diploma programme at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and later moved to the US to attend the Yale School of Management. Nooyi serves on the board of directors of several organizations, including Motorola, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the International Rescue Committee, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Among her friends are former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who describes her asa “wild New York Yankees fan.”