Dr. Kiran Bedi, one of India’s leading social activists and former IPS Officer, spoke to students and faculty of IIMA as part of the year long PGPX Speaker Series organized by the one – year Program in Management. Welcomed with a standing ovation and a packed auditorium Dr. Bedi presented her views on bridging the gender divide in India and spoke about how great leadership is truly gender agnostic.
Dr. Bedi opened her speech with a statement that the country was still running on one wheel, which she said was not a pessimistic statement but a realistic one. She proceeded to share that when the country finally runs on both its wheels, with men and women contributing to the economic and social progress of the nation, the country will truly reap demographic dividends.
The pressures than men and women face in the corporate world are different, and Dr. Bedi went on to explain that differences in perception between men and women start at the young age and are deeply rooted in the social system. Women face a completely different set of challenges, many of which are innate, which they must deal with to progress in their career. They also approach these challenges differently through cooperation, humility and communication, the very same traits that the most influential leaders possess thus making them excellent leaders and managers if given the opportunity.
To the women in the audience, Dr. Bedi gave plenty of advice on how to reach the top based on her experience of being the highest ranked woman police officer in India. Women, she said, need to be self driven and they must believe with all their heart in their ability to reach the top. They should enjoy the work and yet keep their families close and supportive. Women should also use any opportunity to upgrade their skills and learning, as continuous learning will help sharpen their tools for success. She also encouraged women leaders to join networking groups and be role models for the next generation.
Dr. Bedi gave students an honest and candid view on where women are in society and business today and where she envisions they can be. Discrimination, she said, can go, once we are aware of it. She left the audience with much soul searching on the topic and hope in their hearts for a more equal future for India.
– Roxanne Daruwala (PGPX 2013-14)