INTRODUCTION The very first event that launched the IIMA initiative towards setting up Special Interest Group (ASIG) for Women Alumni was a meet in Mumbai organized on the 18th of February, 2018. This was a PAN India meet and saw an active participation with the ASIG idea getting a warm welcome from the community. The event included a panel discussion on Women in Management – Leadership Challenges and followed it up with a brainstorming discussion of ideas about the ASIG structure, its working and activities, and its focus areas. The discussions brought out a strong need for research in women related work issues, mentorship, women sensitivity and inclusivity amongst many others.
As a follow up to the Alumni meet, the Institute rolled out broad focus areas to the alumni community and solicited volunteers to get the working of the ASIG started. The fundamental task of the ASIG is to bring the women of IIMA together on a single platform and work towards objectives that support the women alumni in the industry as well as the Institute. Eventually, the Alumni office put together a coordination committee for the women ASIG represented by volunteers across the alumni, current students as well as faculty members.
The committee’s first task was to set an initial scope of work for the ASIG to get in action. After much brainstorming, the initial goals decided were to create awareness about the special interest group to the wider women alumni, solicit information about their expectations and provide means for them to engage with the ASIG and the Institute for collaborative work.
We launched a series of networking events in various cities called city meet-ups and coffee get togethers. Many local alumni actively helped to bring the respective neighborhood groups together. The objective was to have an informal event where the alumni reconnect, get to know each other and form a local city level support group as extension of the ASIG. In every meeting, the group also discussed in depth about the ASIG and how the alums could work in collaboration with the Institute to set and further the objectives of the ASIG. The networking events were received with much enthusiasm and the whole initiative was heralded as the need of the hour to bring the alumni in connect with the Institute and each other. Many meet ups happened in cities across Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi and London.
Across the interactions with alumni at events and meet-ups, a recurrent demand has been for mentorship across a broad range of issues that women face in corporate world as well as nurturing of women entrepreneurs. Other unique ideas were proposed such as a closed group blog for women alumni to share their work and life experiences with topics ranging from ‘the era of women leadership’ to ‘tackling the challenges in building a successful corporate career’. Another good idea was about engaging with the faculty in development of training programs that suit the needs of mid-career alumni in the industry.
In Nov 2018, we launched the first edition of the WIMWI Women Newsletter. This in turn brought to attention the activities of the ASIG to the larger group, established a channel of communication and published insightful articles for the community.
The CIIE organized an entrepreneurship meet in Bangalore. As part of this event, the women ASIG held a panel discussion with the theme around “Entrepreneurship as the answer to challenges in corporate life.” The pros and cons were discussed in a lively debate with eminent panelists who are active in the ecosystem supporting women entrepreneurship. We also brainstormed about initiatives that could be launched under the Aegis of the ASIG for women alumni in the startup space. Some of the ideas are planned for action in the next phase of activities of the committee.
The Annual general meeting of the SIG scheduled to happen end of 2020 in virtual format is an active step towards engaging more alumni into the working task force of the ASIG. The next set of efforts will be focusing on greater engagement with alumni, providing more platforms for expression of alumni voices and driving initiatives catering to the networking and mentorship needs expressed by the alumni.
NEWSLETTERS The inaugural issue of the newsletter was launched in November 2018. There was tremendous excitement among the Women SIG committee and the Alumni office in putting together the newsletter and on the launch of the first issue. The first issue highlighted networking meets across Mumbai and Bangalore since the launch of the SIG in early 2018. It was agreed that the newsletter would focus on primarily four areas to begin with – updating the alumni at large on networking activities of the SIG, articles/research updates from faculty, interviews with women alumni from different backgrounds highlighting their struggles and success mantras and articles from women students igniting memories of campus days. The first issue attracted a lot of attention from women alumni, who wrote in and wanted to engage themselves in networking meets in their own cities, assist the institute in research activities and offer their services in mentoring other women alumni and students.
The second issue of the newsletter was released in March 2019 and was a Women’s Day Special Issue. The focus in this issue was to celebrate “woman and her uniqueness”. By March 2019, there was an increase in networking meetups in London, New Delhi and Mumbai. Articles/poem contributed in this issue highlighted the strength of a woman, along with the challenges she so often faces and the courage and poise with which she faces each challenge. This special issue further attracted more women alumni to come on board and volunteer their services in the areas of mentoring and research.
These updates via the newsletter have provided a sense of belonging among the Women ASIG and is a great tool for garnering interest and attention worldwide.
PODCASTS “In Conversation With” is a podcast initiated by the Women SIG to capture stories of the many women alumni that have graduated from IIM A. So far, the podcast has recorded episodes with Rama Bijapurkar, Usha Bora, Priyanka Aggarwal, Kitty Aggarwal, and Seema Singh. More episodes are in the pipeline.
Stories are powerful. When told to the right audience, stories can light a path where none seemed to exist. That’s what this podcast aims to achieve – lighting the paths that women alumni took in their quest for successful lives. In doing so, we hope this will create role models for young women who are at the precipice of choosing their own paths.
The podcast follows an informal conversational style with the guests sharing their candid thoughts on the inflection points that led them to where they are today. Rama Bijapurkar, a prominent market strategy consultant, shares that the “magic space” she wanted to work in didn’t exist – so she went out and created it for herself. Usha Bora, Founder of a cross-cultural lifestyle brand called Jamini Paris, talks about her entrepreneurial journey – and the importance of perseverance. Priyanka Aggarwal, Managing Director and Partner at BCG spoke about hard work and serendipity going hand in hand in making her a healthcare expert with 20 years of experience. Kitty Aggarwal, Partner at InfoEdge Ventures, expressed her gratitude towards the many mentors who have believed in her potential – and how she pays it forward by being the same with her team.
Different women, different journeys, different outcomes. All with something we can stand to learn.
WOMEN LEADERSHIP SOCIETY (WLS) ACTIVITIES The WLS has 30+ members. WLS started the year by partnering with LSD for a Tiny Tale Contest to celebrate Women’s Day week at IIM-A.
WLS then created an Instagram Handle to communicate with the members of the community as well as the larger audience amidst lockdown. The social media page has 450+ followers and more than 40 posts.
During TRBS, WLS partnered with the Economics Club to host a speaker session by Jayati Ghosh: A renowned Indian Development Economist. She spoke about her take on the problems faced by women at the workplace and the possible policy solutions that could be undertaken to overcome the barriers.
WLS and RTERC hosted Partivartan at TRBS. Parivartan is the flagship event of the Social and Arts Conclave organized as a part of The Red Brick Summit 2020 in partnership with Pratham and Annapurna Movement. It seeks to empower participants to become leaders and change-makers paving the way for ‘Parivartan’ of India’s social sector. The event saw participation from more than 2000 teams from colleges across India.
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– With contributions by Bhargavi Ramachandran (PGPX 2009), Karen Rodrigues (MDP 2012) and Garima Kaushal (PGP 2017)