The MAKERS Conference, India Day 1 was a whirlwind of inspiring stories by influential women leaders from across diverse fields. The virtual event kick-started with an inaugural speech by Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan.
He said, “As we work towards building a community of empowered women, these two days will see influential leaders from diverse fields come together to explore ways and accelerate women’s equality through provoking conversations and compelling storytelling. So let us build this chorus of voices that can lead to dialogues, actions and change.”
This was followed by keynote addresses by Nikhil Rungta, Country Manager India, Verizon Media; Lori Bongiorno, General Manager of Yahoo News Entertainment, Lifestyle, and MAKERS, Verizon Media and Kristiana Carlet Stagno, VP International Sales at Verizon Media.
In a fireside chat with NASSCOM President Debjani Ghosh on ‘Ladies who launch: Creating diversity in entrepreneurial India’, she emphasised on driving the importance of diversity which can be achieved through conversations in VC circles and organizations.”
Shradha Sharma, founder and CEO of YourStory further captivated the audience by sharing her inspiring life of entrepreneurship. While speaking on persisting as an entrepreneur, she said, “The access to the playground is so difficult. So once you’re in the playground - Just. Stay. Put. In. The. Playground!”
Lack of inclusion and diversity
A keynote session was delivered by Verizon Media CTO Rathi Murthy and a panel discussion followed soon after on ‘Women in tech: The playbook for greater diversity in tech leadership’, that shed light on the need to have a greater representation of women in tech leadership roles.
Sonia Parandekar, head of engineering for commerce, Atlassian, who was among the panelists, listed three rules women look out for before accepting any leadership opportunity . She explained, “First is purpose – what is the vision of a company and how much it resonates with them. Second is people – it is extremely crucial to connect with the work-family as it contributes to success and happiness at work. Finally, it is the impact – what are the outcomes they will get to drive and what they will be able to create.”
“There’s a huge improvement in the number of women confidently choosing the tech ladder and taking their career seriously and developing their educational status level,” said Dr Geetha Manjunath, Founder & CEO at Niramai while sharing her thoughts on women in tech.
The need for inclusivity in the workplace was further reinstated in the panel discussion with Swati Bhargava, Co-Founder at CashKaro & EarnKaro and Malika Sadani, Founder & CEO at The Moms Co. They discussed the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and how sharing responsibilities and leadership should begin at home.
“It’s the responsibility of all parents to facilitate an environment where their daughters are built to fight and take risks. If there is something you want to do, go ahead and do it,” said Sadani.
Day 1 also saw WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose shedding light on how the messaging app is empowering women entrepreneurs to scale up and become financially independent. Sharing examples of some women-led businesses that have benefited from WhatsApp’s unique functionalities, Bose focussed on the company’s government partnerships, its social impact, among others.
Suhasini Mehta, Founder & MD at Stellant Communications Pvt Ltd took the centre stage and conducted a masterclass on personal branding for success and how to think about it from a strategic point of view.
While talking about ‘The Money Factor’ in a panel discussion, Kinara Capital founder Hardika Shah said that more number of micro-businesses owned by women were informal in nature because the friction in scaling one's business was very high. The session also featured Aditi Gupta, Investment professional, Stellaris Venture Partners.
The afternoon was filled with panel sessions on relevant topics such as gender disparity in workplace, education equality and enabling the success of Indian SMBs that featured some of the leading names from across industries including Archana Vohra, Director, Global Business Group, Scaled & SMB India, Facebook; Sheta Mittal, Co-Founder, &Me; Deep Bajaj, Founder and CEO, Sirona; and Geeta Dharmarajan, Founder of Katha.
Digital transformation, digital penetration and the knowledge of women consumers have increased multifold in the business landscape, according to Rachana Gupta, co-founder at Gynoveda, while she discussed her perspective on narrowing the investment disparity and how to become an enabler in the Indian ecosystem.
This is however, not the end. Join us tomorrow on Day 2 for more striking conversations and discussions.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)