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International Women’s Day 2019 – Meet 10 Inspiring MK Women Leaders

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Name: Aarati Kumar
Role: Chief Operating Officer

1. Who is your biggest influence?

Life. Adapt and learn. I credit my parents for laying a strong foundation. It just was the way things were but looking back, I realize that all that really helped me in the various roles.

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

Very. But, it’s not just women, men also. Women sometimes understand women challenges more. The balancing act of home and work has no ready solution and each person has to find the fit for them. Some of us find it and some struggle more. My only tip is lean on people. And learn to let go a bit.

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

Follow your dreams and passion. Women have the freedom of choice which many men don’t. You can choose to be who you want to be. Don’t be critical of yourself. Solutions will present themselves. Don’t let choices bog you down.

But, no option again! Stay committed and continue doing your hard work.

 

Name: Sonali Banerjee
Role: VP – HR & Training

1. Who is your biggest influence?

Any and all women who are strong, independent, ambitious and rigid in the right way to achieve what they deserve in this man’s world.

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

Real women empower each other. They are the ones we will always see building one another up instead of tearing each other down. Perhaps, I will sum up with this quote – “A glowing women can help other women glow and still be lit”.

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

Know your right that’s the first step to empowerment. I wish that as women we all embrace ourselves just the way we are. Essence is in being consistent in what we do and improve by having the willingness to learn, the patience to understand and most importantly the strength to support people around us. Each one of us has to realize our own worth and potential that’s what empowers us.

Economic independence plays a pivotal role in ensuring we are living an independent respectful life, it helps you to make genuine choices about your life the way you want it.

 

Name: Tapashya Subba
Role: VP – Quality

1. Who is your biggest influence?

Every woman who I see working towards making this world a better place to live is an influencer for me.

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

Unfortunately the fact is there is always resistance towards acceptance of woman leaders in the society. It becomes very difficult to lead ahead and without being mocked at for “being woman” or for acting like “a girl” which obviously is not meant in a positive way.

Therefore, it becomes absolutely important for us to support and encourage one another to bring in new ideas, lead as an example and become a role model for one another or for the future generation.

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

Be bold and be yourself. Respect your values and lead as an example so that the less privileged women are able to learn from you and seek their own path of success and independence.

 

Name: Aparna Ziradkar
Role: AVP, Innovation & Strategy

1. Who is your biggest influence?

My Mother and Father (amongst a few more people) who have directly or indirectly inspired me through ‘their’ choices and actions in life. I feel Lucky to be brought up with the “Go craft your life in the best way you can” attitude.

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

Not letting anyone judge another person’s capabilities only because she is a woman! It does happen and if it happens in front of you, make it stop.

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

“Find what your dream and passion is and then “Chase it”! You never know when you realize what you really want to do in this one life personally or professionally (I realized my true passions not very long ago) and once you know what they are, LIVE THEM!

 

Name: Megha Mehra
Role: Head – Global Client Services

1. Who is your biggest influence?

I believe in learning from everyone. The simplest learning will come from your day-to-day observations. To name the most selfless person and the biggest influence, my mother. It is so amazing and inspiring to see her go on with life without an ounce of selfishness. At times, you really need to remind her that sometimes they should think about her too.

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

While motivating each other is important, I feel self-motivation is the most important. You should believe in yourself and what you are doing. Being considerate is really important – if you just do that, you will create a positive environment for yourself and the others.

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

Be open to change and focus on smart work. Find newer ways to do things. Do not forget the basics. At the end of the day, dedication and perseverance is the key, so get your priorities right. There will always be plenty of opportunities but, always remember to choose right.

 

Name: Apeksha Pathak
Role: Group Manager – Leadership Support POD

1. Who is your biggest influence?

My mother. I am not a self-made woman, I am a mom-made woman. My mother is a working lady and she has excelled in all her roles in life. Her passion for her work inspires me to excel in my career. When I look at her, I wonder how one person can accomplish so much without complaining or pausing. I derive my strength from her and hope to be just the kind of human being that she expects her daughter to be.

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

I can’t emphasize enough on the importance of this. It is a tough world and tougher for women in so many aspects. We are on a journey to prove that we are equal and not inferior to men and there are several roadblocks in this journey. That last thing that we need then is another woman pulling us down in any manner.

We have to support each other. Appreciate other women for their efforts and work. Help them to overcome barriers. Stop judging and stop talking negatively about another woman, behind her back. Be open to accepting and giving feedback. Be open to teaching others and learning from them. Don’t let competitiveness give way to jealousy.

You will not win a race if you are putting your energy in pushing others behind. You will win it only if you use that energy to focus on the finish line and continue running at your pace. And know that it is absolutely okay to pause and help a fellow runner who has stumbled. It makes you feel good as a person and you won’t be any less of a runner.

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

Answer: Aim high and believe in yourself. There will be moments of doubt but you have to not give up. Whatever you do, do it with passion. It is a big differentiator. Always say yes to challenges and opportunities because they shape up your career for the best. Be shameless when it comes to learning. Most importantly, be unapologetically ambitious. You can get everything in your career and it starts with saying that you want it all.

 

Name: Nargis Mustafa Inamdar
Role: Group Manager – Enterprise

1. Who is your biggest influence?

My Mother and Nobel laurate Marie Curie.

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

A woman right from starting plays a very important role in any human being’s life just like being a mother; she improves her child’s upbringing patterns.

In any relationship, be it a mother-daughter relationship, a teacher-student relationship, a best friend or a senior-junior relationship, it will always matter how, being a women successor, you help the predecessor or fellow women grow, influence , transform, deliver and motivate to achieve their goals.

A woman should always motivate her fellow women, peer groups and the little ones using her own set of experiences. It is very important for a woman to make other woman understand the challenges which may come across while dealing with certain aspects of life. Women bosses should build healthy, informative and safe environment, especially, for female employees.

I am so happy to see and experience the way women are honored at MK. The way women’s week is being celebrated – flexibility of working hours, health awareness sessions designed especially for women, and the comfortable work environment provided – is awesome.

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

Stop thinking about what the world says behind your back and stop worrying about who speaks what about you!

Even do not care about the gossips going around or for people who come to your table to demotivate you; the world will always be the way it is.

Your only worry should be about how well you are growing as per your set goals or dreams.

 

Name: Shivani Kaul
Role: Group Manager, Leadership Support Pod

1. Who is your biggest influence?

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by powerful women in my personal and professional life.

Every time I attend meetings or interact with MK’s leaders that are women…by the way….more than 30% of our leadership is female…. I marvel at how (seemingly) effortlessly they balance their work-life. The fact that MK is co-founded by a woman is an inspiration to me as this is the first time in my career to witness a person of my gender at the CXO level!

In addition, watching each and every person involved in MK Days for Girls Tacoma, Washington chapter pouring their time, money and energy in bringing sustainable menstrual hygiene solutions to girls everywhere gives me an impetus to look beyond “me” and gives me something to aspire to. It was during one of the MK’s DfG training at Sheroes, Agra that I happened to meet the most extraordinary women in my entire life – the acid attack survivors – listening to their stories has added a new dimension to my perspective on life and has taught me so much in dealing with adversities.

I’d be remiss to say that there’s “one single biggest influence” in my life as there are so many and I’d be happy to share all their stories, but that’ll take a lifetime!

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

As a woman living in urban India, I’ve often stumbled on the way and have managed to get back on my feet (most times) after being given a second chance – one, two, many perhaps and am totally sensitive to the fact that a lot of women in my country neither have a level playing field nor do they have the luxury of second chances. I am a product of the chances my leaders at MK took on me, to lift me up from the mess that was often self-created, and not just being ‘told’ but ‘shown’ how to set things right for myself – I think there’s nothing more empowering than that. It is my wish that every woman everywhere gets as many chances as she needs as per her learning curve to ‘set things right’ and achieve for herself what she aspires to!

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

It’s never too late to set things right. The secret to a fulfilling work life is not avoiding mistakes – but to make as many to learn from them so as never to repeat!

 

Name: Sonia Gahlot
Role: Group Manager – HR & Training

1. Who is your biggest influence?

My Mom- Col (Mrs) Vijaya Gahlot (Retd.), AVSM & SM . She is the epitome of grace, professionalism and knowledge. She has been awarded the AVSM & SM for her exemplary courage and commitment by the Indian Army, during Operation Blue star, Operation Vijay and the Kargil war. She hails from a small town in rural Kerala and was the first woman who started working in her village and family, much to the shock of the entire clan! She is my rock!

When in doubt, I always think “what would ma do?” I give her credit for my resilience and determination.
I am still a long way from being like her, but I am glad I am on the right track. Whenever I am low, she instantly lifts me up by saying, “Believe- You can fly.”

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

I find women supporting each other most inspiring. With so many roadblocks on the road to gender equality, let’s not get in each other’s way. While I do agree that we live in a culture which has a nasty habit of trying to pit us against each other, I think it is time that we change ourselves. Let us push each other forward, motivate each other and set examples instead of pulling each other down. I believe that by supporting other women, you can use the ‘Collective Energy and Experience’ of your peers and it will help you feel less alone & lost because it’s rough out there.

Some of the worst sexism I have lived through has been from other women, and I found it nearly unbelievable. While I had no control over the action of others, I knew that I wanted to be someone who lifted people up, accepting that everyone is flawed and doing the best I could. Women wear so many hats and shoulder huge responsibilities. Let’s start by being less critical of each other!

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

Sharing what my mom tells me as a message “Believe- You can fly”!

 

Name: Sharan Mukherjee
Role: Group Manager – Service Industry

1. Who is your biggest influence?

My parents, they taught me to be fearless, follow my dreams and that I can do anything- Impossible is nothing. They also taught me to always stay on a seeking mode, to learn from others who are making a valuable difference in people’s life. I have been lucky to marry a life partner who always motivated me to excel. In my corporate life, I am totally blessed to work with leaders who inspire me each day to perform at my best.

2. How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

I have always believed in gender equality and I believe it is extremely important to lift others (men or women alike). We need more hands to pull people towards greater heights and to create a beautiful world around us.

3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to pass on to young women starting their careers?

Work hard to be the best in your role- whatever that role may be (currently). Be proud of your achievements, set a higher standard of work ethics and always remember “Hard work beats any talent”. Always have a constant self-improvement attitude by closely noticing what other successful leaders around you are doing.

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