August 26, 2009: The fifth edition of SWIM – Successful Women in Management was held in the sprawling campus of Great Lakes today. The theme of the event was “Make your own rules by breaking the glass ceiling”.
The event was attended by an illustrious list of glass ceiling breakers, the likes of Ms Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD of Biocon, Ms. Radhika Sarathkumar Creative Director, Radaan Mediaworks (I) Limited, Ms. Anita Gupta, Senior Vice President and Managing Partner JWT, Ms. Renuka Krishna Vice President HR, KPIT Cummins.
The chief guest of the event, Ms Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD of Biocon, ignited the entrepreneurial zeal through the glimpse of her own journey of grit & determination. In the coming moments Ms Shaw took through her journey from her graduation days in Ballarat University, Australia to being visionary leader of one of the most innovative companies of our times. Even though license raj has been bane of India of the 1980s, she reminded us that lack of information was the biggest hurdle. Describing her entrepreneurial journey as a chance incident, she urged the class of 2010 to take full advantage of the new opportunities that today’s India is showering upon us. In her words “Entrepreneurship is all about building credibility and standing for your principles”. She advised to the budding entrepreneurs in the class to never be fixated about something just because one had started it, and added, one should challenge the business model at every single time.
India has suffered from the image of an imitator but things are looking up now. Affordable innovation is what India needs now. And Biocon with novel drugs, first oral insulin, antibodies for cancer is moving in the right direction. About failures she said, entrepreneurs are not quitters, failures are temporary, giving up is permanent. To be a successful entrepreneur one should challenge the status quo and learn from mistakes. In response to one of the questions by a student, she said that maintaining a revenue stream at the early stage of a venture is pivotal. “I never took a salary for 3 years after launch of Biocon”.
Ms. Radhika opened her speech with an innocuous confession, “This is my first time at a B-school”. She shared with us, anecdotes from childhood, and her experiences from the film industry. “You have to evolve every passing day, reinvent yourself” said she. She spoke about the Film Industry’s apparatus-the mistreatment of female actors. “I was asked to play Rajnikanth’s mother, the same actor I had acted along with as a heroine”. She deplored the society’s pitiable state, for women are ill treated. She advised students to embrace solitude when faced with indecisive situations. “I have always believed in what I did” she continued “except on my house walls, I signed on everything”. And, concluded with the most precious of all “I never complained, I enjoy my days”.
Ms. Anita in her speech with anecdotal overtones referred to the Kailash trip as “the most amazing and life changing experience”. In praise of her company that had won 3 awards at the prestigious Cannes festival, she said “We chose a category, worked for it and won for the country in 75 years”. In response to one of the student’s query, she said “be very clear about your strengths, position in the company, focus on what you wish to be, and remember that there are no shortcuts to success”. Speaking about the event, she said “there are obstacles, both hidden and obvious. But, people treat you the way you allow them to treat you.
Ms. Renuka began by admitting “it’s a daunting task to come after eminent speakers such as Ms. Shaw, Ms. Radhika and Ms. Anita, I’m a mere IT professional in the midst of recession”. She embarked on a journey to confront the very definition of success. “If you don’t have a good night’s sleep, be a good spouse and a parent, you are not successful” she said. She defined success at work as a mere subset of the monolithic entity “success” as referred to in today’s world. “Most successful women are mothers. All these mothers have brought up successful men. I do not see unsuccessful women at all”, she concluded thus “Ultimately, it is about being happy”.
As the event came to an end, we were proud to salute the spirit of these women. The hand that rocks the cradle truly rules the world.