Welcoming the participants and organisations, Mrs. Saundarya Rajesh at SEGUE SESSION Gurgaon, Founder – President of AVTAR Career Creators and FLEXI Careers India, the brain behind the SEGUE SESSIONS and a strong advocate of creating sustainable careers for women spoke on the strong desire of women to restart their career. On the challenges of a comeback, Mrs. Rajesh stated that “Post a break the energy dips – due to the non-availability of options and more importantly a mindset issue. This mindset challenge is on both sides of the table – second career women seeking the approval of a welcoming workplace and corporates needing proof of commitment and continuity, a second time around. The objective of the SEGUE SESSIONS is to address these issues for an effective engagement between second career women and organisations” The Gurgaon Edition, fifth in the series of editions held in Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Jaipur working towards this objective has achieved phenomenal success in bringing both the stakeholders – second career women and organisations – on a common platform to learn, inspire and network with each other. In the last one year, more than 1500 women and 25 organisations have participated in the SEGUE SESSIONS so far, making it one of India’s large skill building and change management initiative in the human resources sphere.
Inaugurating the Gurgaon Session, Mr. Sanjeev Jain CEO, GE Capital Business Process Management Services (SBI Cards), expressed the need for a diverse workforce and the unique traits that women bring to the workplace. He highlighted some of the best practices followed by GE and about RESTART, their second career program for women. Mr. CK Kumaravel Co-Founder & Director, Naturals, a leading brand in the personal care and wellness industry strongly advocated women participating in the workforce and not content being a homemaker for their own benefit and that of the society at large. He also urged women to explore alternate careers through entrepreneurial ventures.
Mr. Anuraag Maini, Executive VP – HR & Training, DLF Pramerica Life Insurance Company, Mr. Satyavrat Pendharkar, Sr. Director & MU – GM – Beverages (North & East), PepsiCo India Region, Mr. Janak Lalan, Operations Director, HCL, Ms. Mukta Nakra, GM – Talent Management & Diversity, Walmart India, participating in the panel discussion on “India Inc’s need for women managers to hold sustainable long-term careers in order to bridge the skill gap” spoke extensively on what organisations are doing to bring back more women into the workplace and how women can engage with organisations for a comeback. After an engrossing panel discussion it was time for the workshops. The objective of the workshops is to enable women who are on a career break to learn from “role-model” experts on skills essential to make a career come-back. The workshops included sessions on the importance of a) Networking for a segue, b) Managing Internal Stakeholders via New Ways of Working and c) Negotiating for a win-win, subjects which are critical for successful career transition. The Gurgaon Edition for the first time introduced a workshop on Entrepreneurial opportunities for career reentry.
The workshop on Networking for a Segue anchored by Ms. Nisha Verma, Head – Talent Management at Vodafone and moderated by Ms. Sangeeta Vaid, Head HR, Siemens Power Engineering Pvt Ltd. focused on the importance of creation of a personal brand for effective networking. “Networking is about sharing, not taking. It is about forming trust and helping one another toward goals. Regularly engaging with your contacts and finding opportunities to assist them help to strengthen the relationship” said Ms. Verma speaking on building relationships for successful networking. Ms. Poornima Pandey Diversity Lead, South Asia, Hindustan Unilever Limited had as her topic of presentation in the Managing Internal Stakeholders workshop – “The book that I never wrote…” She spoke from her own personal experience of managing internal stakeholders – Family, children and spouse for making a successful comeback. She also recommended the participants to define their own work window that will help them identify their working style and hours to bring flexibility into their career. The workshop, moderated by Mr. Vivek Pandey, Deputy General manager- HR, HCL answered participant’s queries on career opportunities with HCL.The third workshop on Negotiating for a Win-Win, was lead by Ms. Bhavna Bhaskar, Vice President – HR, PepsiCo India and supported by her colleagues Ms. Bhavya Mishra and Ms. Soumya Mittal. Ms. Bhaskar asked participants to have clarity and be very clear on what they want as a prelude to negotiating.
She also urged participants not shy away from asking for what they want. “You are not going to get what you want unless you ask for it” was the simple yet powerful message from Ms. Bhaskar to the audience. Her team also enacted a role play to highlight the 4 stages of negotiating – Prepare, Discuss, Propose and Bargain.Ms. Ritu Marya Editor-In-Chief, Franchise India Media and Ms. Sherin Sebastian Franchisee Partner, Naturals added a new flavor to the SEGUE SESSIONS, that of entrepreneurship as a route for career comeback. Ms. Marya’s words “Entrepreneurship requires not just passion but obsession too” underscored what it takes to be an entrepreneur. The experience sharing by Ms. Sebastian gave hope to the participants when she spoke about her journey of being a woman professional, home maker and an entrepreneur and how entrepreneurship has given her flexibility in her working.
Namita Garg, one of the participants in the workshops said, “It was really great to attend this event. It truly was an eye opener”. Said Arthi Rajashekar, “I am feeling I am not alone in this job hunt after a break. It is really heartwarming to see that there is a group like AVTAR who care about us and are doing such a wonderful job to bring back women into the workplace”. AVTAR hopes to enable more comebacks with the help of organisations like HCL, Naturals, PepsiCo India, Vodafone who sponsored this event and supporting organisations Accenture, DBOI Global Services (Deutsche Bank Group), Genpact, Hindustan Unilever Limited and NASSCOM.