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Tags Archives: Gender-bias

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4 months ago The Spotlight

Lakshmi Balaji – Chartered Accountant, Trainer and Author

Meet Lakshmi Balaji – Chartered Accountant/Trainer/Author

 

Highlights about Lakshmi:

  • Chartered Accountant          Virago Network-Spotlight
  • Author
  • Trainer
  • Founder, QLEAPS, Business Transformation, Equities Research & Training Firm

VN: Please tell us about your profession? – A brief introduction highlighting your designation and role at current organization and rest what you feel could be valuable.

I am a Chartered Accountant, Trainer and Author. I am the founder of QLEAPS, a Business transformation, Equities Research & Training firm.

VN: What’s the #1 attribute that helped you get where you are in your career?

Perseverance is the most important reason I am here today. It has helped me define my choices and help my customers to the best of my abilities.

VN: What were or are the biggest challenges you faced going back into the workplace after children?

When I worked at a regular job, shortly after my children were born, the immediate challenges were in managing the activities and different thinking styles required between personal and professional life. I remember the first day of my work in Internal Audit at a big firm, when I was trying to understand where to begin. My manager stopped by, looked at my struggle, and simply started a flowchart on a board. That kicked me back into my business mindset and I immediately set out to work. Our family relocated frequently during the initial days of our children’s lives. As a result, I had to don the role of grandparent, aunt, uncle and friends, at home. I had to reinvent my career many times, depending on the opportunities available in each city. Time management was my biggest challenge, and doing it well was my savior. I am still a learner, I should say.

VN: How do you manage your family life while pursuing your career?

For this, I am fortunate to have a spouse who supports me in everything I do. His unstinting belief is the reason I am here today. We have together carved out a shared space in the time we spend as a family, no matter how busy his travel schedule is, or how busy our business constraints get. Right from watching a cartoon that my son likes, to impromptu Chai sessions at a jungle Dhaba, we make the best of every moment we spend together. My kids are my sounding board for ideas, and they are my most honest believers and critiques.

VN: What accomplishments are you most proud of?

From a woman traveling on Mumbai trains for a regular job in 2004, to an independent business founder, it has truly been a metamorphosis. I have been blessed to meet many interesting career/family women bubbling with positive ideas and energy. Bringing out this energy in others charges me up. I feel this is a shared accomplishment, one that women can uniquely harness. I am equally proud of being able to raise a fearless entrepreneur daughter and a son who is as much a rational thinker as a spontaneous wit. Being successful as an independent business woman, creating positive energy around women empowerment, and nurturing my children to be their best selves, are priceless to me.

VN: What has been the greatest challenge(s) in your career and how did you overcome it (them)?

Being a person with multiple interests, prioritizing and managing the many interesting ways in which I can move forward is an important challenge. An Organizer and a Daily Journal is indispensable for my personality. I also read much more than I write. Carving out time for that passion is really critical to me.

As an entrepreneur, to be seen at par with men in terms of acumen and execution continues to be an important challenge. Knowing myself and understanding how my customer can benefit from my expertise helps me focus on the results. Humility and service mindedness have been key in making my customers successful.

VN: When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?

What pushes me forward is the realization that I am here to dent the universe, and that my efforts matter. For me, it is not “what will tomorrow be?” as much as “I will make the tomorrow that matters to everyone around me”.

VN: What are the challenges to female leadership?

At the outset, I should say that women are beginning to see wonderful opportunities today. But our best times are ahead of us. Our capabilities are not fully perceived. There is surely an undercurrent of angst around women in leadership. While there is a lot of encouragement and mentorship today, there is much needed in active sponsorship of women’s career growth. Most times, we have to be our own protagonist. By actively sponsoring women to roles where men have been the default choice, we can change this. My daughter is a motorsports entrepreneur. This could not have happened in any other age. But it is happening, today. More will surely happen, as we continue to work on it.

VN: What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

It all comes down to becoming an active participant in changing the perspectives around what a woman can do. First, we need to be self-aware, know our strengths and challenges. We need to stand for whatever we do best. We need to use our personal power – be it our EQ, our parallel thinking, or our ability to manage many different roles, or any other unique traits we possess.

VN: Have you encountered any gender specific challenges or obstacles in your career?

Yes, definitely. Until I have built a relationship with my customers, it was less about “what needs to get done” and more about “what can she do well?”

VN: If you had the power to change one thing in the corporate world for working mothers, what would you change?

First off, corporate world is indifferent to gender or any other classification. What matters are results. However, today, a woman’s role is quickly judged based on how well she balances her work and life, more than a man’s. The one thing I’d wish to change is the culture of judging a person by how much time they spend at their desk/office versus how much of their promise they deliver. As long as the results are delivered with quality and compliance to the corporate world, allowing a woman (or a man) to work in a way that best balances their work and family is the most important change. At this juncture, I would like to thank Virago Network for this giant leap they have taken in being a catalyst to women empowerment & their professional growth.

VN: What is your definition of success and/or your mantra?

Success is how fully you have used your potential to live your best life. It is not always about happiness. It is about how gracefully you can handle adversities or advantages. “Whatever you do, make it matter”.

VN: Which Female Leader(s)/Entrepreneur inspire you the most and why?

Indra Nooyi inspires me the most. Her strength and undaunting spirit as someone who balances her life, family and career, symbolizes character to me. Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman is another inspiration for me. Her composure and stature while she holds enormous power is an inspiration on how to be humble and effective.

VN: What are your thoughts on the glass ceiling? Does it still exist for women in the workplace? And if so, how can women professionals navigate that?

The glass ceiling does exist, although it is being chipped away slowly. As long as a woman’s assertiveness is seen as arrogance, her competence seen as a threat, and other misconceptions continue to exist, her contribution will be limited by the process of the culture. In my opinion, this is simply an unequal estimation of potential. Man and woman were made to complement each other. Diverse thinking is now a necessity and we need all manners of men and women’s style of thinking to better our society.

My thoughts on this is: Be proud of your power and different thinking style. Avoid becoming vulnerable to pressures. Most of all, do not encourage people to think you are a victim.

VN: If you could go back to when you were just beginning your career, what advice would you give yourself?

“Lakshmi, look beyond the definitions that you give about yourself and that the world gives about you. You are far more powerful than what you think you are”

 

 

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5 months ago The Spotlight

Laura Starling- Owner/CEO of Queen City Fame Productions/Media

Meet Laura Starling- Owner/CEO of Queen City Fame Productions/Media

Highlights:                       Laura Starling-Leader Women Empowerment

  • Owner/CEO of Queen City Fame Productions/Media
  • Advisory Board Member, Virago Network
  • Leader, Women Empowerment

 

VN: Laura, Please tell us about your profession?

Laura:  I am an entrepreneur and the owner/CEO of Queen City Fame Productions/Media. I share and develop stories about influential, inspiring and motivational people wanting to make a positive impact in the lives of others.  I am dedicated to providing a platform for individuals from different backgrounds with diverse perspectives, sharing their journey through challenges and successes.

VN: What’s the #1 attribute that helped you get where you are in your career?

Laura: The number one attribute that helps me get to where I am today is my ability to engage and connect with people. I strive to learn and grow every day to become a better human being.

VN: How do you manage your family life while pursuing your career?

Laura: I make a conscious effort to plan for family time each week to stay connected.

VN: What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Laura: I am most proud of producing my very first lifestyle series and teaching myself how to edit a film.

VN: What has been the greatest challenge(s) in your career and how did you overcome it (them)?

Laura: The greatest challenge in my career has been spreading myself too thin. Although I want to be part of all of the amazing organization, foundations, charities, networking events: it is very hard to stay on task with my personal goals. I work hard to evaluate each organization and situation equally to determine if I would be able to fully add value, connect as well as gain joy from being involved.

VN: When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?

Laura: When facing adversity, the thoughts of letting my parents down keeps me moving forward. I want to fulfill all of the goals I have shared with my parents before they are no longer on this earth. That is my biggest fear.

VN: What are the challenges to female leadership?

Laura: I believe the challenges to female leadership is to be taken seriously, to be respected as being intelligent, beautiful and successful.

VN: What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

Laura:  I believe women that take on more responsibilities and are flexible in their organizations would allow them to achieve a more prominent role. Women who step outside of their comfort zone, think outside of the box, ask questions and be willing to fail become great leaders in any organization. You have to be willing to fail to win.

VN: Have you encountered any gender-specific challenges or obstacles in your career?

Laura: The gender-specific challenge I have received is people tend to think I am just the face or host of my production company and not the visionary and producer. I am always having to explain my role in my production company. I meet men and even women every day that cannot fathom that a woman can be a creator. There is always seems to be a thought that a man is behind the scenes doing all of the work.

VN: If you had the power to change one thing in the corporate world for working mothers, what would you change?

Laura: If I had the power to change one thing in the corporate world for working mothers, I would provide an additional 24 paid hours for them to attend important school meetings with kids which would equal to about 2 hours per month.

VN: What is your definition of success and/or your mantra?

Laura:  My definition of success is a peace of mind, loving myself, loving what I do and loving how I do it.

VN: Which Female Leader(s)/Entrepreneur inspire you the most and why?

Laura: I am inspired most by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. The reason Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry inspire me are because they both went through many struggles to become the people they are today. Although they had many struggles, they never gave up on their dreams and they both give back to help others achieve their dreams. They are who I aspire to be.

VN: What are your thoughts on the glass ceiling? Does it still exist for women in the workplace? And if so, how can women professionals navigate that?

Laura: I believe there is still a glass ceiling in the workplace. I believe there are more companies providing more opportunities for women to excel to higher leadership, however, women are still facing stereotypes that they can’t handle being at the big table and making big decisions. Women need to get more involved in the organizations in their company that focus on workforce culture to stamp out these stereotypes. Women should first come together, then gather statistics of the men and women in leadership roles and request a meeting to discuss. Statistics speak louder than assumptions. Preparation breeds success.

VN: If you could go back to when you were just beginning your career, what advice would you give yourself?

Laura: If I could go back to when I was just beginning my career, I would tell myself to write out my goals, research and study other entrepreneurs in my field, determine a timeline, align myself with other entrepreneurs in my field, create a budget, align with a team that understands and believes in my vision. Trust the journey even when you don’t understand it.

  • “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” ~Oprah Winfrey
    2019-03-04T14:15:09+00:00
    “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” ~Oprah Winfrey
    "As women, we must stand up for ourselves. As women, we must stand up for each other. As women, we must stand up for justice for all.” ~Michelle Obama.
    2019-03-04T14:20:56+00:00
    "As women, we must stand up for ourselves. As women, we must stand up for each other. As women, we must stand up for justice for all.” ~Michelle Obama.
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