They were born in India, and achieved fame, glory and success in other parts of the world. Which is why we decided to call them the Global Indian Women (GIW) — their influence measured by big data research firm MavenMagnet, which began with a long list of 60 women, all born in India and making waves outside it (see How We Did It below for more details on the methodology).These women earned their spurs across countries — from the United Arab Emirates to, inevitably, the US —but one thing’s for sure: you can’t take India and their Indianness out of them. After all, many of them are what and where they are because of their cultural roots, and their ability to adapt them to a new milieu.
Consider, for instance, the story of Falu Shah, who has introduced the West to a mint-new genre of ‘Hindi-Indie’ music. Part of the credit for the success of Falu — or Falguni as she was known in her childhood days in Mumbai – would have to go to her mother Kishori Reshamdal who ensured that her daughter was trained in Hindustani classical music.
MavenMagnet, a research company, uses big data to uncover consumer and market insights across a broad cross-section of demographic and psychographic segments. The key advantage of its research methodology is that it does not involve moderation of discussions or questions..
Padmasree Warrior, chief technology & strategy officer at Cisco Systems, is a notable exception. Warrior became CTO and executive veep at Motorola in 2003. She was the highest-ranking woman in the company’s history; she had joined a Motorola semiconductor factory way back in 1984, one of the few women on the rolls where she spent 23 years. She quit Motorola in 2007 and is tipped for the job of CEO in Cisco.
“I believe being a leader is all about making a lasting difference while staying authentic as a person. I focus my leadership on enabling Cisco to lead major market transitions,” Warrior told ET Magazine. Outside her core work, Warrior’s passion is to mentor the next generation of leaders, especially women in technology.
“I was very close to my parents growing up in India. Engineering education in India is often highly competitive, and I am proud to have been one of only five girls enrolled in my class of 250 at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, where I spent my formative years,” she said.
Warrior is considered among the most influential tech visionaries globally with Fortune Magazine having called her one of four rising stars on its Most Powerful Women list way back in 2006. “Technology has always had an impact on society and our lives — from the industrial revolution to the information revolution. This impact is often positive but occasionally negative. We are witnessing unprecedented pace of change across every industry today. The internet, mobile and cloud are at the heart of this change. We are about to enter the era of internet of everything which is the networked connection between people, process, data and things,” she says.
Alka Banerjee – Queen of the equity cult
Even though Alka Banerjee reached American shores in 1994, it is best to call her a global citizen who keeps travelling and often lives out of a suitcase. As managing director of strategy and global equity indices at S&P Dow Jones Indices, Banerjee is often criss-crossing the world. Her travel brings her to India often where she oversees a joint venture with the Bombay Stock Exchange called Asia Index Pvt Ltd.
In her dual role, as the head of indices globally, and head of the Indian JV, Banerjee is firmly clued into what is happening locally. She says: “India is at an exciting time today and I see a lot of dynamism and growth in the country. I have been coming to India on professional visits for the last 15 years and the change in mood is dramatic. I have seen a lot of changes which have happened for the better in the last decade but now I sense that change will be much more rapid and constructive.
Rashmi Sinha – a canny entrepreneur made by academics
These were lines from a 2009 profile in Playboy of Rashmi Sinha, co-founder of SlideShare, serial entrepreneur and angel investor, who had been named among America’s sexiest CEOs that year. Victoria’s Secret and Femme Productions, an adult entertainment venture, were the kind of names likely to be seen on this list.
However, Sinha’s presence was rather unexpected and by her own admission something she did on a lark. It would be foolhardy to believe that she’s leaning on looks alone to get by.
SlideShare, a site which aggregates presentations, was conceived and scaled by her husband Jonathan Boutelle and brother Amit Ranjan and, when acquired by LinkedIn for $119 million in May 2012, had 60 million monthly users and hosted some 7.4 million presentations.
Business and starting up was something of a career change for the academically oriented Sinha. Despite being acclimatised to the demands of academia — she is a PhD in psychology besides the post-doc in cognitive neuroscience —the thrill of starting up convinced her to switch careers. SlideShare was the result of this endeavour — and the acquisition by LinkedIn validation of her switch.
Building, scaling and selling SlideShare — and an earlier boutique consultancy — handed Sinha many life lessons she is keen to pass on.
“When I decided to do technology I knew a little bit of computer science, I had taken a few courses but I was definitely not a very technical person,” she said in an interview to National Centre for Women and Information Technology, a non-profit venture. “I … forged ahead … and have learned along the way and have picked things up. I would say that’s a very important thing to decide what interests you because you can’t do anything as well as the things that truly make you come alive.”
Sinha grew up in Allahabad and tries to stay connected to all things Indian — she likes to drink masala chai and eats Indian food — and is a strong supporter of prime minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Space Mission on Twitter. Even as she tries to keep in touch with her Indian roots, she’s already plotting her next venture —having quit Linked-In — and is dispensing advice to those looking to follow in her footsteps.
Gargee Ghosh – Influencer beyond work
Nearly $135 billion in aid was doled out to impoverished countries globally, according to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a grouping of rich nations. However, most institutes that used to apportion this money were created in the 1940s and are in urgent need of re-invention, as political boundaries are redrawn and the needs for compassionate capital change.
For Gargee Ghosh, director of Development Policy and Finance at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, rewiring the aid ecosystem is a favourite project.
“Today’s world is radically different,” she said in a statement announcing The Next Horizons Essay Contest on The Future of Development Assistance. “While many have evolved since then, we think there is more to do to make sure we are getting the most impact for every dollar of aid spent: we need to re-imagine aid for the 21st century.
Ghosh’s work isn’t restricted to aid alone. She’s also feted for her work in devising innovative ways to financing vaccines for the poor. She has worked with Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, to develop the advance market commitment concept, to guarantee a market for a successfully developed vaccine.
Ghosh declined to comment for this article. A key focus for Ghosh, an economics and international relations graduate from Oxford and University of Vancouver, is making healthcare more available and affordable. She has worked on the pilot of a global fund debt conversion initiative and private equity powerhouse to invest in healthcare in Africa.
A combination of her expertise in healthcare and impact investing and know-how across consultancies, corporations and charities has created a buzz online, according to the GIW study. In November 2013, US president Barack Obama appointed her to his Global Development Council, a think tank to advise the US administration on issues such as US’ global development policies and practices, supporting new and existing public-private partnerships, and increasing awareness and action in support of development.
“She has a good sense about policy, particularly what is missing in the current tool box, and is willing to pursue new options with passion,” says Sanjeev Gupta, a deputy director with the International Monetary Fund. With her two-year term on the council set to end in 2015, Ghosh will surely be thinking of her next big challenge to make healthcare more equitable. read more..