20 Mar 2019 20:01 IST

Great Lakes hosts Successful Women in Management meet

Speakers highlight value of women’s labour, taking the right decisions and recognising one’s identity

The 11th Successful Women in Management (SWIM) Conference was held at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai. The chief guests were S Madhumathi, IAS, Commissioner, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Department, TN Government; Vishala Ramaswami, MD, Loyal Textiles, and CEO, P.Orr & Sons; and Sherlin Seth, Actress, Femina Miss India Tamil Nadu 2017.

Vishala Ramaswami, MD, Loyal Textiles, and CEO, P.Orr & Sons, delivered the keynote address on the theme ‘Women empowerment is definitely a reality today. But, is it enough?’

She said: “I believe that for women to be truly empowered in corporate India, we require two developments — first, economists and the corporate world must recognise and value the labour that women perform outside of work; and second, we must evolve as a society and discard outdated gender norms.”

“We need to understand that the question is not how we get more Indian women to work; instead, it should be how we help women balance the double burden of domestic and professional work that benefits both the company and the employee. Once we recognise and value women’s labour outside of work, instead of dismissing it, we will become more empathetic to the multiple demands on Indian women and find ways to make the workplace more welcoming for them,” she added.

Three lessons

Vishala shared three important lessons that she has learnt in her career so far:

“First, it is crucial to have a larger vision that guides you and make you put your company’s interest before your own personal gain. The balance-sheet is, of course, critical for any individual or an organisation. Without a sound cash-flow and profitable business model, it is impossible to sustain and grow. So, financial success is an important goal. But pursuit of wealth alone will not make you feel fulfilled,” she said.

“Secondly,” she said, “it is critical to never stop learning, adapting to survive in today’s business environment. It is essential to remain a lifelong student and to realise that your learning will not stop once you graduate. To succeed in the corporate world, intellectual curiosity and the ability to keep improving and innovating is essential.”

“Third, no virtue defines an entrepreneur more than courage and resilience. It is important for every management student to realise that your professional life will not be always smooth sailing, there will be moments of crisis, stress and uncertainty. Do not fear these moments, as these will teach you the greatest life lessons, and inculcate in you the strength and determination to succeed in the long run,” Vishala concluded.

Work towards the general good

S Madhumathi, IAS, who spoke on her professional journey, said: “At times, whatever we study or learn doesn’t help during a crisis situation, and that’s when we have to use our common sense and presence of mind to take certain decisions. In our life, professional or personal, we may also at times be plagued by self-doubt. It may be whether a certain decision is right or wrong. From my experience, if your heart says that the decision is right, and would further the general good of people around you, then go for it.”

“We have to look at a three-point approach in life — kama (desire to work), karma (result that emerges from the work you deliver) and kaushalya (the satisfaction that comes after finishing the good work you have done). My advice is do not get driven by kama alone, only when you attain kaushalya, will you gain the benefit of dharma (righteousness), which will give goodness and prosperity in life,” added Madhumati.

Recognising one’s identity

Sherlin Seth, actress and Femina Miss India Tamil Nadu 2017, spoke of her journey in modelling, and the challenges she faced in participating in and winning the Femina Miss India title. She highlighted that the key to success is in realising one’s own identity, uniqueness and building on it.

Bala V Balachandran, Founder, Dean and Chairman, Great Lakes Institute of Management, who addressed the gathering over a video call, said: “Women, in general, are all incredibly successful and inspiring. Any role they play, as a mother, wife, colleague, they outdo themselves and teach us life lessons to push us to challenge our own achievements. GL SWIM aims to bring these anecdotes to light and highlights the way forward to encourage the empowerment of women in society.”

For the first time this year, the institute introduced the ‘Young Leader Award for Women Students in Campus’, where the top three women students are awarded based on their academics and other contributions on the campus. The winners were invited to talk about their experiences and the lessons learnt from the MBA programme, their plans and idea(s) to contribute to the betterment of society and the economy.

Sai Medha from the one-year MBA programme (PGPM Class of 2019) bagged the first place, and Priya Prasad from one-year MBA programme (PGPM 2019) and Nitika Khanna from the two-year MBA programme (PGDM Class of 2019) won the second and third places respectively.