An AVTAR study indicates that 1.5 million women in the metros and sub metros are looking out for a second career and they are not just looking at opportunities but also the means to make a successful career re-entry. SEGUE SESSIONS, India’s first large format skill building program was conceived with a vision to reach out to this large audience of women professionals to fulfill this need – providing a platform to learn from top-ranked experts on skills essential to make a career comeback.
SEGUE SESSIONS Mumbai edition held on 2nd March 2012 at ITC Maratha is the second such after the launch of the series in Chennai. The Chennai edition had 250 plus participants, 14 speakers and 8 corporate organizations partnering in co-creating the workshops at the eventBuilding on the success of the Chennai Edition, the Mumbai event witnessed 300 plus participants, 18 speakers and 10 corporate organizations lending their support to this program.
“3 years for creating the network and 3 years to set up the corporate infrastructure to accept second-career women”, said Mrs. Saundarya Rajesh, Founder – President of AVTAR Career Creators and FLEXI Careers India, the architect of SEGUE SESSIONS in her welcome address, describing the 6 year journey of AVTAR I-WIN in creating sustainable careers for women by actively promoting flexible working and engaging with organizations in creating a more welcoming workplace for women.
Ms. Geetu Verma in her plenary address, launching AVTAR I-WIN in Mumbai, emphasized the business case for having more women in the workplace as they are a significant customer base for many companies and as high as 80% of HUL’s customer base. Inaugurating the SEGUE SESSIONS, Ms. Leena Nair, Executive Director – HR, Hindustan Unilever Limited, noted that taking a career break was normal and much needed one for woman at some point in their career.
“At HUL, we fully appreciate that there are millions of talented, professionally qualified women who have quit their careers to take care of their families. And that today, after a few years, when things have settled down, many of them would be ready to come back with a bang if they are given the right platform. It is this insight that has led to the creation of our unique ‘Career By Choice’ programme – a corporate re-entry programme for women on a career break”. She enthralled the audience with an inspiring speech and ended her address with a promise from the audience that they should go out and inspire 10 other women for a comeback into the industry.
Delivering a Special Key note address, Ms. Sandhya Vasudevan, Managing Director, DBOI Global Services, Deutsche Bank Group, a great supporter of the concept of SEGUE SESSIONS right from the Chennai Event observed that “Sessions like these are the need of the hour as organisations look at handholding women professionals to grow in their careers. As they try to balance their personal priorities and professional aspirations, it is important for organisations to put in place enabling policies, such as ones around flexible work arrangements and also make available sufficient mentoring and coaching programmes, to ensure these women succeed”.
Taking off from the Inaugural Session, the panel discussion chaired by Ms. Moushumi Bose, Director and Head of Diversity, DBOI Global Services, Deutsche Bank Group, Ms. Rajashree Nambiar, Head – Distribution, Standard Chartered Bank, Ms. Sonali Roychowdhury, Head – Human Resources, Procter & Gamble, India, Ms. Priya Joshi, Talent Strategist, Accenture and Ms. Anita Guha, Global Leadership Development Manager, IBM discussed on India Inc’s need for women managers and highlighted the initiatives taken by their organizations to enable sustainable long-term careers for women.
Some of the notable best practices were 6 months paid maternity leave, Crèche in office premises, Flexible working, mentoring and sponsorship for women et al.The panel discussion was followed by the 3 workshops, where the heroines of the SEGUE SESSIONS – women in senior corporate roles who had ‘segued’ successfully, provided live examples of how they faced challenges and hurdles in their own career reentry.
The first workshop “Networking for a Segue” was facilitated by Ms. Soma Pandey, Vice President – HR, Accenture in India, Ms. Saumya Mittal, PepsiCo India, and Ms. Saagarika Ghoshal, President HR – Reliance BIG Entertainment. Ms. Soma Pandey, presenting the workshop highlighted the importance of 4 “BE’s” in Networking & Social Media,
-Be Extremely Conscious
Post lunch the audience quickly assembled for the 2nd workshop on Managing Internal Stakeholders via New ways of working, and was surprised to see drums and whistles on the chairs. Ms. Poornima Pandey, Hindustan Unilever India Limited who facilitated this workshop used them as a prop for feedback on the points elucidated in the workshop. Her presentation on ‘The Book that I never wrote’ demonstrated via 7 chapters of her own career-work integration, was a big hit with the audience. Ms. Shilpa Mhatre, Head – Consumer Technical Insights, Marico India, Ms. Neha Kanabar, Regional Marketing Manager – West, IFB Appliances were the other 2 speakers in the workshop.“It is overwhelming & the fact that someone (Saundarya) realised this great need that was lying there for to be addressed since so long!” said Ms.Shilpa Mhatre.
From here the focus moved over to the third and final workshop on Negotiating for a Win-Win. The speakers were Ms. Anuja Agarwal, Director – Communications, DBOI Global Services, Deutsche Bank Group, Ms. Ophira Bhatia, Director – Corporate Affairs, Kraft Foods, Ms. Namrata Gill, Mahindra & Mahindra Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors.The workshops were a great success with the audience and delivered the promise of building self-confidence in returnees. “The workshops were extremely well organized and it was a dream meeting with so many women top leaders on the same dais. It enriched me not only in getting next job but to shape up my future career path”, said Girija Pillai, one of the participants at the SEGUE SESSIONS.
“An eye opener, a perfect platform for women looking for job after career breaks, a lot of guidance & information about to go ahead, to list priorities & follow your instincts”, voiced Aarti Karamchandani. The speakers too were inspired by the event. “The SEGUE SESSIONS address an important area of bridging the gap between talented, experienced, qualified women and organisations that are aspiring to win the war for talent. I feel encouraged and inspired to be involved in this journey”, said Priya Joshi of Accenture India sharing her views about the event.Finally the freewheeling chat between the participants, Ms Saundarya Rajesh and the principal sponsors Hindustan Unilever Limited and Deutsche Bank Group represented by Ms. Moushumi Bose and Ms. Poornima Pandey helped in addressing career options for the participants.
The SESSION ended with a vote of thanks from Viren Naidu, National Editor, Ascent, Times of India,The SEGUE SESSIONS provided an excellent opportunity for women to network with the speakers, corporate representatives and other participants to explore potential opportunities. “This is a wonderful forum to build a supportive network to help one further one’s career”, says Ms. Anita Guha, commenting on the networking opportunity in SEGUE SESSIONS. Saili Bhide’s words summed up the purpose and objective of the event – “I know that with committed people like you, our daughters will find it easier to be the women they want to be, without having to give up their professional aspirations”. What more do we need? We are delighted!