India’s top business leaders come together to share, celebrate, and inspire at the ‘AWS HER Leadership Execleaders 2023’ event in Mumbai
Women leaders focused on the importance of creating equitable opportunities, networking, sponsorship, taking risks, breaking barriers, and more at the event, which was attended by allies and champions of the diversity, equity and inclusion movement.
With the mission of celebrating women in leadership positions and creating more role models for women looking to move forward in their careers, AWS and YourStory’s ‘HER Leadership Execleaders 2023’ brought together leaders from India’s top startups and enterprises.
The event featured speakers such as Anita Bhogle, author and consultant; Aparna Kumar, Chief Information Officer, SBI; Chetna Gala Sinha, Founder-Chairperson, Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation; Naiyya Saggi, Co-founder,; Radhika Ghai, Founder and CEO, ; Rashi Narang, Founder and CEO, ; Shalini Kapoor, Head Public Sector and Chief Technologist, AWS India; Sheenam Ohrie, Managing Director, Broadridge Financial Solutions India Pvt. Ltd.; and Shefali Goradia, Chairperson, Deloitte India.
Additionally, senior leaders from AWS India such as Chandra Prakash Balani, Head Global Enterprise and Lead ID&E Initiatives; Vaishali Kasture, Head of Enterprise Business (India & South Asia); Shalini Kapoor, Head Public Sector and Chief Technologist; Ekta Parashar, Head of Solutions Architect, Enterprise Business; Srikrishnan Sundararajan, Head of India Professional Services; and Nitin Bawankule, Director and Head for Digital Native Business, also participated in the onstage conversations.
The event saw India’s top enterprise business leaders and startup founders talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, mentorship, building equitable work cultures, leadership mantras, and more. The attendees got a chance to not only learn about important leadership skills but also got an opportunity to network with peers and seniors from the ecosystem.
Chandra Prakash Balani, Head Global Enterprise and Lead ID&E Initiatives, AWS India, kickstarted the event with a powerful keynote, speaking about various strides AWS India has taken over the years to break barriers when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and equity.
“Our mission is to make AWS the best place to work for women in India,” said Balani, addressing an audience of 150+ women entrepreneurs, senior leaders, and executives alongside champions and allies of the DEI movement.
He also shared some of the initiatives AWS has taken including creating gender neutral job descriptions, referral drives, inclusion training sessions for leaders and employees, programs taken by AWS to nurture women leaders, training and certification programs to train women on cloud, and helping them find jobs with AWS, customers and partners. These programs have not only improved gender diversity at AWS India but have also won several ID&E industry awards.
Chandra’s keynote address was followed by a fireside chat between Shefali Goradia, Chairperson, Deloitte India and Vaishali Kasture, Head of Enterprise Business (India & South Asia), AWS India. Goradia recounted the experiences and learnings she gathered while becoming the first woman chairperson of a big four firm in India. She reiterated the importance of constant learning and stepping out of one’s comfort zone to attain greater heights.
Lead the change you want to see
With ‘Breaking barriers: Building resilient enterprises of the future’ as its theme, the event saw a power-packed panel discussion featuring celebrated enterprise business leaders such as Sheenam Ohrie, Managing Director, Broadridge Financial Solutions India Pvt. Ltd.; Aparna Kumar, Chief Information Officer, SBI; and Shalini Kapoor, Head Public Sector and Chief Technologist, AWS India. The session was hosted by Ekta Parashar, Head of Solutions Architect, Enterprise Business, AWS India.
All the leaders delved into the role large organisations can play in the positive diversification of the workforce, the importance of building inclusive cultures, and the role they have played individually, in their organisations, to level the playing field.
They reiterated that professionals, especially women, who are looking to rise up the ranks should not be afraid of making mistakes. They should learn from those mistakes and move on to the next goal.
Breaking barriers while being equal yet different
Author and consultant Anita Bhogle participated in a fireside chat with Srikrishnan Sundararajan, Head of India Professional Services, AWS India, and spoke about her learnings while penning her latest book, ‘Equal yet different: Career catalysts for the professional women’.
“Women who are committed to excellence, are positive and optimistic, and who give priority to themselves are winning the game for me,” said Bhogle, stressing on the need to build more networking opportunities for women and remove systemic barriers and biases against women and other underrepresented communities.
Moving mountains to make history
Rashi Narang, Founder and CEO, Heads Up For Tails; Radhika Ghai, Founder and CEO, kindlife; and Naiyya Saggi, Co-founder, The Good Glamm Group; shared their experiences of building successful businesses while navigating various challenges. The chat was steered by Nitin Bawankule, Director and Head for Digital Native Business, AWS India.
“Social conditioning leads to a lot of fear [in women],” said Narang while talking about aspects such as no discrimination and merit-only policies at her startup Heads up for tails.
Stressing about a leader’s role in building an inclusive work culture, Ghai said, “I am building a company with a conscious bias towards women. My leadership team is 80% women. Everything we do is from the ‘she’ point of view.”
Sharing her learnings from building communities and businesses over the years, Saggi also reiterated that the responsibility and action of building an equal and inclusive workforce falls on the shoulders of the leadership.
The event ended on a high note with a powerful closing keynote by Chetna Gala Sinha, Founder-Chairperson, Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation, wherein she shared her experiences of making courageous decisions and wide-scale societal impact by challenging set norms.
Sinha, who has been credited with building the first rural bank for women in India, said people at large need to understand that they need to do away with their bias that doesn’t allow them to build smart solutions for poor people. She reiterated that poor people are smart enough to understand and gain from smart solutions.
The ‘HER Leadership Execleaders 2023’ event took place on the sidelines of the annual AWS Mumbai summit and was a testament to the success of the ‘HER Leadership’ series that has been able to capture the mindshare of the audience and has managed to put forth inspiring stories of dynamic and courageous enterprise business leaders.
More about the ‘HER Leadership’ series
AWS HER Leadership, in its two successful seasons, has followed a virtual video format where the series has chronicled the struggles, successes, and milestones of India’s leading enterprise business leaders.
The leaders shared perspectives on critical topics such as diversity and inclusion, mentorship, building equitable work cultures, leadership mantras, among others. The interviews helped the audience understand what their success can teach them about tenacity, competition, priorities, and progress. The series witnessed phenomenal success with a reach of over six million and over 1.1 million video views.