Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sheroes in Hyderabad 2014

I happened upon an event this Saturday and it turned out to be a great one! BlogAdda has some passes to Sheroes in Your City events across the country for members. I registered for the event in Hyderabad at Radisson last Saturday. And to be honest, I wanted to go just because I had not been to a conference as such. I am not an entrepreneur and didn't really consider it an option for myself. But the event was thoroughly inspiring for me! So I can only imagine how anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit would have felt! For all those of you interested, there are some more coming up, check here.

(I only have one picture and the light is bad but here it is anyway)

To begin with we had TiE Hyderabad president (one of the sponsors of the event), Murali Bukkapatnam who spoke on entrepreneurship and why people choose it. A very informative and inspiring speech, he quoted Tagore on freedom, a few Sankrit slokas on women empowerment and even a song by an African woman that asks for nothing but the blockade be removed from her path. He called the path of entrepreneurship an enchantress that seduces you while you make excuses (not reasons) to be seduced. But the reason he says, is immortality. True! But it's not for everyone and only for those with the inner passion or Antah Prerna which he argues is the origin of the very word. Once seduced, these people with the inner passion will go for it even though the success rate is so low because everything else is simply unacceptable. While Murali believes some of them are born to be entrepreneurs, many can also be made and that's where TiE comes in to hold your hand and mentor you, even if it is just to know that you have someone on your side. Mentors are meant to bridge the experience gap. Murali also reduced the cost of TiE membership for an female entrepreneurs who would sign up on the day and gave away a free membership to the first question from the audience. The audience questions ranged from funding to profitability of social enterprises to the lack of resources and accessibility for people with disabilities to become entrepreneurs.

Sheroes is an inspiration in itself. The short presentation by Sairee on what they do can wake you up to the possibilities or the lack thereof that your have taken for granted until now (which you should not have). The world has changed a lot even if we don't notice it. As Sairee put it, a few years ago you couldn't even imagine there would be a job called gender communication consultant (Bhavna in the audience). What started as a focus on young mothers to help them back in their jobs with their Fleximom and other Mompreneur programmes, Sheroes is now rebranded to focus on all urban women at all levels. They even have the Big Sister programme for starting a difference conversation at the campus level where students question which direction to take in their career, catching them young before the world can tell them that their career is secondary.
Sheroes worked with Principal Adivisors who now have an entire female sales force with flexible working. What would that be called? Feminisation of Workforce! And Sairee threw some light on redesigning today's workforce for empathy and collaboration. While we grow up in a competitive environment, the true future lies in collaboration with the emergence of a sharing economy. True, very true. All our new companies are aggregators or collaborators! Sheroes has branded itself to help urban women and surprisingly there are abysmally low number of initiatives to help the urban women get back on her feet after a career break. On the other hand, rural self-help groups and government and NGO initiatives for rural women are a dime a dozen!

The event invited and introduced us to some interesting stories and the interestingly extraordinary lives of people.

Tavleen Mehendiratta, once an auto journalist reviewing cars and explaining to us the 0to60 acceleration of the high end cars, has had a reality check that cars are heavy contributors to the slowing traffic and the increasing carbon footprints. So now she is busy deconstructing the new buzzword "Smart City". Smart cities need smart cars and she is working with the automobile industry in creating and re-positioning small and green cars for mobility. But smart cities also need smart citizens who don't need a large car for a large ego,and be happy with a cool new smart little car. So Tavleen is helping build a new era of smart citizens by educating them and introducing them to the world of opportunities in the internet of things revolution. Her institute i-Mobility.org conducts workshops for smart city professional certification and internet of things certification. She also introduced us to some of the latest entrepreneurship opportunities stemming out of the internet of things like Flexeye and Traffline.
Ruchika Kar, a Shero, spoke of her start-up groupshoppy with her husband who during the event was taking care of their infant child so that Ruchika could attend the event. A supporting ecosystem, one we all need. Ruchika's groupshoppy had received support and mentorship from Sheroes.
Priya Badshah, with her never give up attitude talked for a length of time on women having a career for life and how she managed to make a comeback in her career after a break every time. Her first career break came when she met with a serious accident, the second when her daughter was diagnosed with learning disability and needed attention, and the third more recently when she was diagnosed with a non-malignant tumor. She came back with a bang every single time and leads a successful corporate life. To begin with, the multitasking was difficult, but soon she began to love it and adore the diversity in her life solving tiny little problems of motherhood like helping her daughter with homework and then go to work and solve the bigger problems of the world like clean energy.

An afternoon well spent! A two-line summary for the event? Tavleen put it well, borrowing Emma Watson's words: If not me then who. If not now then when. Kudos to Sairee and Srishti and the Sheroes team for a successful event and thanks for all the effort that went into making it!

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