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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SWIM 2008

If human life can be ruled by reasons, then possibility of life is destroyed. But there has been no greater reason than liberation of women that has ruled the history. With Clara Barton founding the American Red Cross, the era of women leading from the forefront had arrived. From occident to occult, women have made their presence felt to the core of societies. We have come a long way from women suppressed society to an equal opportunity culture where women are no longer dream chasers, but are the dream creators. They are the fuel to the intelligent society. A stark shift from a fairer sex to a smarter sex image, the society has finally let dominion give way to the smarter thought.

Pursuing the thought, SWIM 2008 commenced with Lamp Lighting by our distinguished guests and felicitation by our beloved Uncle Bala. Uncle Bala delivered the inaugural note on contribution of women to the Indian economy and inception of SWIM as a forum to acknowledge successful women in business. Since the inauguration, SWIM has seen eminent personalities from all walks of life. Personalities such as Ms. Kiran Bedi, Ms. Mallika Srinivasan and Ms. Indra Subramanyam have shared the stage at SWIM. This year’s event was no different in attracting eminent personalities from successful businesses and corporate houses. SWIM 2008 revolved around the theme “Women as Trailblazers”, which explored the path followed by successful women and challenges faced by them along the journey.

The keynote speakers took the center stage and delivered some inspiring thoughts. Ms. Anu Aga gave a powerful speech on transformation of Thermax into a successful enterprise. She shared that entrepreneurial mindset and people focus made Thermax an enterprise of dreams for many and a place to worship for the employees. The ‘Thermax Factor’ made it a sought after enterprise for students from Harvard and other esteemed engineering colleges. Ms. Aga talked about Thermax’s innovative reach and bold steps that pushed it ahead of the competition. She shared her experience and thoughts on transforming Thermax to a globally respect and high performance enterprise.

Operational excellence brought in by McKinsey and Company was incorporated by Thermax to stay ahead of the competition. Thermax transcended Lean to the roots of the company to achieve excellence across operational and production areas. The hard fought battle has bore fruit. Thermax has recently seen 285 Cr. in Profit and was adjudged best sub-billion dollar company in Forbes Asia list. As she steps down as a chairperson, she wants her heirs to take rein of the company and understand the functioning well. After retirement, she would stay with the company, but wants to contribute more to the society. She mesmerized the audience with some deep thoughts.

A few thoughts that she shared:
‘Learning is a continuous process and there is no stop’.
‘People are great assets. Good people are our greatest assets’.
‘Making profit is a must, but is not sufficient’.
‘We will grow strong each year, but not only in financial terms’.
Women should not be submissive, but aggressive and assertive’.

There after Padamshri Sudha Raghunathan reckoned her life’s journey through music. She said that spreading the message of melody, message of bliss, ascertained the fact that the arduous journey was fruitful. She mesmerized the audience with her powerful and thought provoking speech. She contemplated that audience response was the most influencing factor that kept her spirits high through the journey. And appropriately, she concluded her note with a Carnatic song dedicated to Ms. Aga, wishing her good health and success.

A few thoughts that she shared:
‘If you can rise up to the expectations, there is no dearth of global recognition’.
‘What can I leave for posterity sake and what I can innovate to give back to music’?

Ms. Hemu Ramaiah of Landmark talked about makeover of a book store into a lifestyle space. She shared Landmark’s story of making landmark decisions in making it the most revered book store in India. No challenge or failure impeded her pursuit towards making Landmark an eponym for books. She shared that Landmark’s strength lies in meeting customer’s need, but providing enriching experience to the buyers. And at it reaches crossroad, Landmark has collaborated with Trent (a Tata company) to expand aggressively and to continue the Landmark culture.

Ms. Mridula Bharat Ram then took the center stage and delivered inspiring story of her life. She took the road less travelled and sought her way up through the man dominated corporate world. Coming from a South Indian conservative family, she fought her way to the corporate world dominated by men. But the call of the family brought her back to India and she took the reins of the family business.

The power talks were followed by enthralling, but enriching panel discussion on “Educated, intelligent, energetic and just in her 40’s – can she still pursue her career dreams?” The esteemed panel, comprised of Ms. Lalitha Maheshwaran, Ms. Pushpa Kandaswamy, Ms. Indra Subramanayam and Ms. Sharada, was moderated by none other than Mr. T.N. Seshan. Mr. Seshan’s presence in the panel was enough to glue the audience to their seats. The contribution of women towards country’s success was put forward in a subtle way of elegance. The idea that women are driven not by financial gains, but by inner passion was acknowledged very well with the audience.

Finally, Mr. Vinod Ganesh gripped the audience with a lively display as a quiz master. Mr. Ganesh has mastered numerous quizzes across the country including QFI Open and Infosys Corporate Quiz. With huge prize money at offing, Les Quizarables attracted participants from various colleges and corporate such as Infosys, iFlex etc. Personally, it was one of the finest quizzes I attended in the past few years. Preliminary round was easy to start with, but the final was a real teaser. With cerebral hemisphere walking an extra mile, the participants and the audience put up a nice display of erudite and scholarly genre.

SWIMming in the lake of desire, we met the fortunate end. SWIM 2008 concluded with a positive note fortifying the role of women in the new era. Great Lakes Institute of Management’s stride towards making a difference in the society and strengthening the role of women successfully emanated a positive vibe across. Powerful speeches, thought provoking discussions and inspiring personalities all echoed only one sentiment and that is ‘the era of successful women has arrived’. Personally, I feel that women are yet to reach the peak and gain reverence among masses, but I am certain that the climb has started.

So, be prepared. Stand up and thank the woman next to you. Thank her for the meaning that she has given to your life. Thank her for the way she has supported the society. You may not find time to thank her enough.

Venue: Sesh Mahal at Hotel Green Park


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