Glass ceilings are broken by women in every field, one can possibly imagine. From sewing to flying jets, a woman is capable of doing anything. The stories may seem unlikely or even impossible to believe, for India is a country where women are always pushed back in comparison to their male counterparts. But, even with very little to take inspiration from, and a large burden of managing a household already being there on their shoulders, some women have set themselves up as a source of inspiration for other women and as benchmarks for men. The following are some examples of women who broke the norms of the society and have reached the zenith.
Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Ltd
Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is presently the richest woman in India with an estimated wealth of 2,100 crore in 2004. She is the founder of Biocon India, the biggest biopharmaceutical company in the country. She did not have a very easy start and had faced her share of trouble before achieving this feat.
Educated at Bishop Cotton Girls School and a graduate from Mount Carmel college, Dr. Kiran started her business with only as less as 10,000 rupees that too in her own garage in 1978. She was turned down by many as the word biotechnology was new then, she had no assets to take the loan against and also, the fact that she was a woman and woman entrepreneurs were at that time a rarity.
However, she did not lose hope and continued with her work which was like extracting a simple enzyme from papaya, and today because of her courage and persistence, she is at the peak of success.
Sunita Narain, Director General of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
Sunita Narain is widely known as an environmentalist and political activist who played a major part in the Green concept of sustainable development. Narain, is responsible for the increment in the awareness of harmful effects of pollution and has been working tirelessly with her CSE in advocating this.
Her work has enabled the successful implementation of the use of CNG in the pubic transport division which has brought down the emission level to much lower amount than it was earlier. Her numerous achievements include the World Water Prize for work on rainwater harvesting and chairing the Tiger Task Force under the supervision of Prime Minister, for the conservation in the country after the loss of tigers in Sariska. Sunita Narain was awarded Padma Shri in 2005.
Neelam Dhawan, Managing Director at HP
Neelam Dhawan is presently the managing director at HP, the fourth largest IT company in India. She did her graduation from Stephens and MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies and wanted to join FMCGs like Hindustan Lever and Asian Paints but they did not accept her because they did not want a female in their ranks.
She has been working in the IT sector since 22 years and has worked for all top IT companies including Microsoft, HCL and IBM. Neelam attributes her success to her parents who she says were never partial between her and her brother. They both were given equal opportunities to excel, underlining the fact that how well women can do if given an opportunity.
Naina Lal Kidwani, Group General Manager and Country Head of HSBC India
Naina Lal Kidwani was the first Indian woman to graduate from Havard Business School. Chartered accountant by profession, Kidwani joined ANZ Grindlays, where her tasks comprised of being the Head of the Investment Bank, Head of Global NRI Services and Head of the Western India, Retail Bank.
The Fortune magazine has listed Naina amongst the World’s Top 50 Corporate Women in three successive years. And going by the Economic Times, she was the first woman to head the operations of a foreign bank in India (HSBC). Naina, for her hard work and effort, was awarded with Padma Shree by the Government of India.
Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Joint MD of Kinetic Engineering Ltd and Director of Kinetic Motors
Born to a business family, Sulajja did not have to look far for inspiration. Her grandfather was the founder of Kinetic Engineering and her father was the founder of the kinetic group. She graduated from Pune University and pursued her MBA in Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg.
The magazine ‘India Today’ had awarded her with the title of business ‘Face of the Millennium’. She is not just an entrepreneur but also has played badminton at national level.
Mallika Srinivasan, Director of TAFE India
Wife of the CMD of TVS motors, Mallika Srinivasan refused to live under his shadow and made a name for herself. She was given the title of the Business Woman of the Year in 2006.
When she had joined TAFE, its annual revenue was just 86 crores and when she got this award, it had jumped up to 2,900 crores. She did her MBA from Wharton just two years after her marriage and was supported by her husband throughout.
Dr. Jatinder Kaur Arora, Joint Director in the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology
Dr. Jatinder Kaur Arora is without doubt, an exceptional scientist from Punjab, who was conferred a national award for her immense contribution to the development of women’s living standards and lifestyles through science and technology.
Dr. Jatinder was the first scientist to get such an award and has a doctorate in microbiology with an outstanding academic background. Her rise to the post of director might have surprised many but she surely deserved it.
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi is presently the chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo and according to Forbes magazine’s 2006 poll, she was amongst the most powerful woman in the world. She was named the Most Powerful Woman in Business in 2006 by Fortune magazine.
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi did her bachelor’s from Madras Christian College in 1974, and MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. She then shifted to US to join the Yale School of Management. Indra is on the board of directors of many well known companies, namely Motorola, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the International Rescue Committee, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Preetha Reddy, Managing Director of Apollo Hospital
Managing a chain of 45 hospitals, 51 clinics and over 500 pharmacies is a task that requires grit and determination and that is what Preetha Reddy owes. Apollo hospitals are ranked as the number 1 private hospitals and Preetha Reddy has maintained this rank since a long time under her supervision.
She joined Apollo group in 1989 and since then there has been no looking back. She got married when she was doing her graduation and was a housewife for ten years before venturing out. She showed everybody that you do not need to belong to a high class family or have a business background to do well in this field.