More than 40 influential women leaders from diverse fields participated virtually over the last two days at the most esteemed inaugural India edition of The MAKERS Conference that celebrates women and facilitates provocative conversations to drive gender equality at work.
With an action-packed agenda and numerous sessions, it was understandably difficult to catch everything the conference had to offer this year. We’ve captured some of the highlights below.
The day began with a brief talk on diversity and inclusion in action, and how to embrace differences to achieve success at work by Ramcess Jean-Louis, Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Verizon Media.
This was followed by a fireside chat between Nivruti Rai, Country Head, Intel India and Vice President, Product Supply Chain, GSC, Intel and Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory Media. During the session, Rai highlighted how the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for women to grab more career opportunities.
“Create an environment and enable women to work from home. Give a psychologically safe environment for women to come and speak up – which in turn will help companies understand how they can make work attractive,” she says.
Noted transgender activist Akkai Padmashali, who is also the Founder of Ondede took the central stage to discuss on building an inclusive society, where we stand today, and why we need to ramp up our efforts to achieve true equality.
To discuss more on the role of women in society, award-winning filmmaker Alankrita Shrivasatava and Bollywood actor Rasika Dugal came together in a panel discussion.
“For me, reimagining the role of women in society means taking the burden of purity, duty and sacrifice away from women. This is how women were controlled in society,” says Shrivastava.
Creating impactful businesses
Another key session on the second day was the panel on how to be an effective leader in an ever-changing workplace. The panelists included Megha Chawla, Partner, Bain & Company; Shweta Bhatia, Partner and Head of Technology, Consumer and Financial Services, Eight Roads Ventures India; Usha Srikanth, Senior Partner, IBM Global Business Services; and Priya Sharma, CFO, COO and Co-founder, ZestMoney.
The panel discussion was succeeded by another captivating session by Baggit founder Nina Lekhi where she spoke about how one can start small even when dreaming big. Lekhi shared her experience of starting up at the age of 18, and how she went on to build a Rs 111 crore revenue brand with Baggit.
Day 2 also saw another notable panel featuring Arunima Sen, STEM Designer and Innovator; Tithi G Tewari, Founder and MD, Trezi; and Madhurima Agarwal, Director - Engineering Programs and Leader, NetApp Excellerator. The discussion focussed on how a STEM mindset could be the key to a better future for girls in India.
“STEM has to find its way into the life of an evolving mind early so that the necessary muscle memory develops around it,” says Tewari.
Discussing parenting as a high growth business, Vineeta Singh, CEO, SUGAR Cosmetics, shared insights into the key points to be remembered while growing a business.
Further, we were elated to have Padma Shri Rani Rampal, Captain of the Indian Women’s Hockey Team join us for theicos conference. In a fireside chat, she talked about the striking glory for India on the world hockey stage.
"Women athletes initially had a limited career span but today things are changing with icons like Mary Kom, an inspiration who continues to play with the same hunger," says Rampal.
Namita Thapar, Executive Director at Emcure Pharmaceuticals shed light on the digitisation of traditional pharmaceutical space by elaborating on how Covid-19 has made the pharma industry re-think the digital landscape.
Another panel discussion on impact investments and women-led innovation followed soon after. Valuable statements were made by Vinutha Rallapalli, Director, T-Hub Hyderabad; Geeta Goel, Country Director, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation India, LLP; and Ragini Bajaj Chaudhary, Director Strategic Initiatives, Caspian Debt.
“Less than 10 percent women are tech entrepreneurs and less than 5 percent of entire VC funding goes into women-founded startups. A lot more needs to be done,” says Rallapalli.
The sessions concluded with Chetan Kumar, Head of Partnerships at WhatsApp India discussing leveraging WhatsApp for business communications.
The event ended on a stupendous note with a presentation ceremony of two sets of awards to honour leading and emerging voices of inclusion. First, the Women Who Make India Awards to honour iconic women leaders for trailblazing work in their chosen fields, followed by the Emerging Women Entrepreneur 2021 Awards to celebrate and acknowledge new and emerging voices of inclusion in the ecosystem.
Click here to know the winners.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)