Friday 15 December, 2017
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Women in Leadership – Breaking Barriers: South Asian women’s conference held in Atlanta

Atlanta, GA, October 2, 2017: The Indo American Community Services (IACS) – one of the premier national not for profit organization expanded to Atlanta and held its first event – the South Asian Women’s conference – on September 9th at the Double Tree in Roswell, GA. The theme was ‘Women in Leadership – Breaking Barriers.’  The South Asian Women’s Conference provides an interactive forum to educate and empower women and provide networking opportunities to connect, learn and grow in their careers.

Featured keynote speakers included Anisha Madan, VP-Finance and CFO, Change Healthcare, Kanchana Raman, President, Avion Networks and Nithya Narasimhan, VP-Client Experience, ADP. They shared many aspects of leadership including the challenges they faced along with their personal experiences and practical advice to help professional women achieve their goals.

The conference began with a welcome note by Lakshmi Nagamohan, from the IACS Executive Team. Anu Sundaram, Selvi Sankar and Katyayani Dave from the organizing team, introduced the keynote speakers.

In her talk, Anisha mentioned that “there is a big gender gap today for women in leadership, but it is getting better. The important message is that the effort matters as much as the destination.” Anisha recommends leveraging your foundation and expertise, and challenging yourself to do more. She says, “you become a fast learner when you stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone and learn quickly to survive when you take up challenging jobs and roles.” She also adds that no woman is an island and suggests making smart changes and taking up calculated risks that will ultimately payoff. Anisha has worked for over 15 years in a finance leadership role in various companies. She is an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and has also completed her Executive Education in Strategy from the Harvard Business School.

Kanchana talked about her path to success as an entrepreneur. She believes that no matter how hard the path gets, stay focused on the path of integrity as that is the foundation of any company. She says, “there is no work-life balance when it comes to women. Try living in the present, focus on a split schedule and spend quality time with the family.” She commended the participants for attending the event, and said if you are not networking you are not working. And that entrepreneurs, need to be constantly strengthening their network by reaching out to support organizations and mentors who will help them grow. Above all, she says invest in yourself. As a chair and board member in several women’s organizations, Kanchana applauded the work of IACS supporting South Asian professionals. Kanchana holds an MBA from Goizueta Business School, Emory University to augment her broad experience in telecommunications and technology, which spans over 20 years.

Nithya elaborated on the conference theme by saying that leadership is not something you grow up on and that these behaviors and characteristics need to be inculcated since a very young age. She says, “resilience is the key to succeeding and how you bounce back is going to make the difference.” She also adds that it is important to have a positive attitude and create competencies – find the competency in you and in others. Success is to collaborate and not compete. Nithya says, “women are making a big difference every day, and the more we rise and lift others as we rise, many women will come to the workforce and these positive behaviors is what will break barriers.” She also emphasized that South Asian Women are good at building networks in the social sphere and that they should extend the same strategy to make connections at work as well. Nithya has an MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and a post-graduate degree in Management from the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India.

The presentations were followed by a Q&A session moderated by Katyayani Dave and Anu Sundaram in which panelists addressed questions from participants. Some of the questions were focused on handling work life balance, mentoring, entrepreneurship, personality development, etc.

The conference also featured local women entrepreneurs. Sunita Davis introduced the entrepreneurs. Uma Lakshman, Founder of the Big Bangles Theory started her entrepreneurial endeavor as an extension of her passion to create a niche market for handmade bangles. She developed an app with a unique algorithm that helps women find their bangle size. She recently launched the online e-commerce website www.bigbanglestheory.com

Shachi Srivastava is a self-taught artist from India and is passionate about exploring, and creating paintings that resonate with her inner thoughts. She excels in intricate and magnificent designs in her artworks, which are inspired by folk and tribal art styles from India. Shachi believes that, “Colors are the messengers of happiness to every soul that it touches”.

The conference was sponsored by Dover, ITW and Numeric Technologies. The grand success of the conference is attributed to the IACS conference organizing team that included Lakshmi Nagamohan, Anu Sundaram, Katyayani Dave, Selvi Sankar, Sunita Davis, Prema Rajan, Sree Kummarapurugu, Kayal Muthusamy, Vidya Sukumaran and Sujatha Narayanan.

IACS has been supporting the South Asian American Community in various cities through its Diversity Career Expos, Women’s Empowerment Forums, Professional, Leadership, Business and Entrepreneurial and HR Conferences. IACS provides student internship opportunities in both public and private sectors, provides free job portal, mentoring and career counseling services. http://www.iacsinfo.org.

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