Not everyday do you get an opportunity to connect with the Secretary of State for United States - Hillary Clinton. Not everyday does an individual get the privilege of being selected to participate in the prestigious Global Women's Mentoring Partnership Program.
Then again, not everybody is as ambitious, accomplished, yet unassuming like Yeshasvini Ramaswamy, the Founder and Managing Director of e2e People Practices.
Commenced in the year 2005, the Fortune / U.S. State Department Global Women's Mentoring Partnerships is an innovative program that connects America's top women executives with emerging women leaders from around the world. Each year, 25 women leaders from emerging countries across the world are shortlisted for the mentoring partnership. Countries such as Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Macedonia, Namibia, Nigeria, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam participate in the program. This month-long internship program in Washington, D.C, US, aims at inspiring and encouraging the next generation of women leaders to bring positive change to their companies and communities.Having spent 40 odd days in Washington D.C, San Fransisco and New York, Yeshasavini was mentored by Weili Dai, Co-Founder, Marvell Technology Group, which is the third largest semiconductor company in the world, to promote woman leadership / entrepreneurship in India.
Yeshasvini talks about her experiences, the influence of cultural diversity on entrepreneurship and Women entrepreneurs, the role of education and the educator and also her key takeaways from the program.
What has changed since your participation in the Global Women's Mentoring Partnerships program?
When I left for the US, I knew we were meeting distinguished personalities such as Hilary Clinton and other busines leaders. So there was this pressure of what would I talk to them about, what would we be discussing. It is extremely important as I am representing my country. Of course the underlying thought was that of the excitement of being able to participate in a program this global. As an entrepreneur, it came naturally to me to focus on the amount of economic value I could derive from being away from my work for 40 odd days that I was there. But when we got there, I was overwhelemed with the amount of diversity available under one roof. Cultural influences, econimical conditions, history, ways of thinking spoke louder than words. We were speaking to at least 3-4 women achievers everday and it made us feel like we've not even begun our journey, in comparison to what they've acheived. It was an environment that was completely non-judgemental and this helped us bond much better and create a network that was truly global. From business perspective, I had the privilege to witness innovation first hand, at Silicon Valley, San Fransisco. Visiting Stanford was another thilling experience. A lot of business concepts got clarified and the experiences were filled with positive enforcements.
The whole program was focused on getting us to realise the fact that 'We' have got the opportunity to create something greater than ourselves. How are we going to pay it forward? Women are inclined toward driving more value for their companies and communities. The program helped us in exchanging views with other participants, mentors and women leaders on understanding and meeting challenges head-on, focusing on thinking global, believing in the ourselves and transforming ourselves and others who harbour similar dreams. It has been enriching for life.
We talk about equality and then we distinguish ourselves as 'WOMEN' Entrepreneurs. Do you think we require Women centric forums like these at all? Are they creating more bias instead?
Do we need women centric forums? Yes, we do. We're different from men and we constitute 50% of the world's population. That means 50% of your customers are women. The notion of Women feeling inferior or that it is a man's world is an urban thought. You will not find rural women fighting for equality. You will only see the educated crowd voicing the thought.
The fact is that we're different and we should focus on how this uniqueness equips us. As women, we are known to nurture and this inherent quality of ours allows us to go beyond the convention and do things differently. Studies show that investing in Women has a greater ROI and to a large extent Entrepreneurship is level playing field. This changes the game entirely.
Do you think Women Entrepreneurs here are focused on innovation?
We tend to innovate depending on our environment. We will be seeing a lot more innovation from the current generation of women business leaders and the ones who will emerge in the future mainly because of the accessibility to technology and innovation opportunities. We don't operate in isolation; We operate in a society that expects certain things from us. So if you were to look at the businesses established by the generation of women say 15 years earlier, than the ones that would be established 15 years from now, you will see massive changes in thought and application.
Do you think the Indian education system supports innovation?
Currently no. In a way though the students today are a lot sharper and are supplementing their learning by accessing quality content off the web. Again, this is dependant on the initiative a student takes on and not that driven from the school / college's side. But the teachers today are evolving as well and are more tolerant of the fact that you look to various sources to enhance your own view of the world.
Teaching has to move with the times. Before it was data, then information and now it is insight. I have been able to take up the challenge and establish JGI iDEA with Mr. Chenraj Jain's help. As we all know he was born to be an entrepreneur. Working with him has been a great honour and together we have been able to develop a truly innovative curriculum at JGI to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to constantly view the world with a fresh perspective.
I understand that the education system evaluates students based on their ability to interpret the learning. I am all for evalutaion because I believe we can't be a cookie cutter. But yes... evaluation should change as well, as there are so many new streams of learning that are being introduced. Overall, the quality of students that are gradutating schools and colleges is really good now.
Coming back to Entrepreneurship, do you subscribe to the thought that an Entrepreneur's life is 24/7 committment to his/her business?
Yes. Entrepreneurship is definitely a 24/7 committment. If it is not then it would be very difficult to take your business anywhere. Having said that, the committment is more on the mental level than physical. It is a wrong notion that one should be available to his/her customrer (unless the model is designed so) all the time. It is your mind that has to be occupied all along and not your physical self. What we tend to do is mix emotions with the business model. It is the model that has to work and not your emotions that have to drive it forward. If you are running a residential B-school for example, like I do, then making yourself available 24/7 or at least being accessible for most parts of the day and week makes sense.
Engage your mind constantly on devicing ways with which you can maximise the value for your customers. An entrepreneur's mind never rests. His / her vision is constantly evolving.
Is it particularly difficult for women entrepreneurs to commit to their businesses?
It is completely contextual. For an Indian Woman - yes it is difficult. For a woman entrepreneur from say US or Europe - I wouldn't know. At the program, we had a participant from Iraq. You can only wonder how it is for her. But yes, generally, women entrepreneurs do face a challenge of balancing work and life. But I think the level of acceptance of this role of women is rising. I am hopeful that the scenario will be a lot different going forward.
Yeshasvini Ramaswamy is truly an inspiration to women all across the world. Her love for observing, understanding and keenly engaging herself with the human element of the companies she has worked with, has helped her establish her own venture - e2e People Practices. Having worked with Infosys and then Velankani Group of Companies, venturing into a business revolving around Human Capital Management and Training seemed like a natural extension to her professional growth.
e2e People Practices is a Leadership Audit firm that is focused on hiring the right people for the job and training them to rise above the routine. In short, e2e has been developed with an intent of creating models to track the return on investment (ROI) in the Human Resources Management and Leadership Training areas and help CEOs scale their businesses.
Yeshasvini is also the Chief Anchor for the School for Leadership & Entrepreneurial Excellence. She has successfully launched the JGI iDEA PG program and set up an exclusive school for CEOs called the CEO Satsang. She is also on the Management of JGI Ventures that has committed itself to sector agnostic seed funding.
Author of the article, Poonam Kulkarni
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