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26 November 2008

Unaccustomed Earth

Last week saw me in Delhi, Bangalore and then back to Delhi once more, before returning to London at the weekend.  My week was busy, frantic, noisy, crowded, chaotic – and fascinating, insightful, educational, a privilege.  I met so many great people and was made very welcome by both NASSCOM and my PwC colleagues.

(And a big “namasté” to the many wonderful women I met last week who have signed up as new blog subscribers.  Poor Matt, who runs this site for me, wasn’t quite sure what had hit him on Friday!) 

Here are my highlights, in no particular order:

  • Showing the trailer of “Closing the Gender Gap” and discussing the film and the implications for women in India;
  • Speaking on the opening NASSCOM panel, on the business imperatives which surround gender diversity, and being referenced in the Times of India and the Bangalore Business Standard the next day;


  • Meeting my colleagues in the Delhi office and hearing them talk with great honesty, frankness and passion about their hopes for their careers, their families and their futures;
  • Learning about the particular challenges faced by people in Indian business around the whole “work life balance” conundrum – and how different this is for women in India, where “flexible working” can be taken to mean “part time working”;
  • Realising that, for some Indian women, it’s not just about the man that you marry, it’s about his mother; several women said to me that they were glad to have sons because it would give them the opportunity to be “a different kind of mother-in-law in the future …”
  • Helping Maureen Frank and her Emberin and Interweave colleagues launch “My Mentor: Challenging Indian Women to Step Up” – and seeing how eagerly the product was received by the women in Bangalore. 
  • Hearing Pramod Bhasin of Genpact urging women to “Speak up! Rock the boat!”.  Here he is launching “My Mentor”:


  • Particular congratulations to Rashmi, who won a copy of the “My Mentor” toolkit in the prize draw – I hope you find it to be a help in developing and advancing your career.  Let me know how you get on!
  • Having some really creative conversations with Maureen and my PwC colleagues about how,  where and when we will launch “My Mentor” for our women in India – watch this space … we have plans and we are cooking …
  • Participating in Thursday’s panel discussion around some of the lessons within “My Mentor” – and sharing my personal stories around the importance of having an honest and authentic personal brand, of being visible and of networking.  For those of you who were at that session: the book I mentioned, “Brilliant Networking”, is referenced in the “Recommended reading” link to the right of this article.  I also recommend this article on The Glass Hammer website, entitled “Networking for Introverts” – and not just because they also ran a great profile on me last week!
  • And mentioning books …

… I would also like to say a huge thank you to Rashika, who, having heard me talk about my love of reading and how I use books both in business and in pleasure, approached me after the panel discussion and gave me a list of reading recommendations for books with Indian context, as follows:

Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri
The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity – Amartya Sen
The Glass Palace – Amitav Ghosh
The Inscrutable Americans – Anurag Mathur
The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri

I am hugely touched by her generosity in sharing these recommendations and am very much looking forward to reading them all – and to then discussing them with her when I am back in Bangalore.

From Bangalore, Maureen and I flew back to Delhi where we crammed ourselves into two tiny seats in row 30 at the very back of the plane and spent the entire three hour journey working out how best we can continue to work together, obtain world domination and so on.  Like I say – watch this space.  We already have some very exciting ideas for Mumbai and Bangalore in early February.  If you gave me your business card: I’ll be back …

And here’s a competition for you.  For a chance to win a copy of “Closing the Gender Gap” on DVD, a copy of the DVD companion guide and a “You Go Girl” t-shirt from Maureen Frank (size medium) – please email me by close of business (any time zone!) on Friday 28th November and answer this question: what is the common link between the title of this blog entry and the two previous entries?

My next blog will be about a couple of London-based events which are on my schedule this week.

Until next time


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