The country erupted in cheers for Parag Agrawal this week as he was named the new CEO of social media giant Twitter following Jack Dorsey’s step-down. Immediately, a connection was drawn between Agrawal and other top leaders like Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella: all are Indian-origin men sitting on top seats in superpower businesses. But amid the applause, a set of people always pushed to the sidelines and conveniently ignored was given nearly the same treatment again: Indian women global leaders.
The conversation around leadership is still lopsided in men’s favour across industries, including in business. But the latter has shown exceeding potential over the years to bridge that gap, even if at a snail’s pace. Indian girls have grown up reading the odd story about an Indra Nooyi or a Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, handpicking them from a predominantly male-led environment. And these women became figures of potential, of where a woman could reach if presented with the right opportunity, resources and representation.
There are more such icons to speak of today. But are they getting the recognition they deserve? Or are they being snubbed? Why, when we speak of Indian-origin geniuses changing the game of business internationally, does our sensibility automatically steer towards men? Does it indicate that at a subconscious, or even conscious, level, we still don’t consider women significant players in the race?
Praise for women breaking new ground and touching new heights was sparse this week, as WhatsApp forwards and Twitter posts holding Agrawal and his counterparts up as examples of Indian potential did rounds.
So here’s raising a toast to the women everyone should know and who deserve each bit of commendation as the men.
1. Anjali Sud
The CEO of Vimeo since 2017, Anjali Sud turned the video hosting company around after assuming top position and took it to greater heights, all while she was only in her early 3os. Under her, the platform transitioned from an entertainment platform to a software as a service set up for content creators. She also took the company public this year in May. More here.
2. Jayshree Ullal
Jayshree Ullal is a data wiz who has held the position of CEO at Arista Networks since 2008. Her management and influence have won her titles among the top business leaders in the world multiple times. Her previous association with Cisco too was highly successful, with the multinational making many acquisitions under her 15-year-long leadership. More here.
3. Revathi Advaithi
As CEO of Flex, Revathi Advaithi is leading the tech and manufacturing industry with a human focus that advocates strongly for a more diverse and female-oriented representation in STEM. She has been named multiple times among the most powerful women in business and her agenda, as quoted by Fortune, is “moving the company beyond its high-profile former customer.”
4. Padmasree Warrior
Among the most notable Indian-American tech executives, Padmasree Warrior is the CEO of startup Fable, which was established in 2019 as a platform to improve “cognitive fitness.” She has previously led teams at Cisco and Motorola as CTO and the CEO of automobile manufacturer NIO’s US arm. She has received recognition for being a powerful and young woman leader promoting technology.
5. Roshni Nadar
The first woman to lead a listed IT company in the country, Roshni Nadar is the present chair of HCL Technologies, succeeding her father Shiv Nadar in the role after he stepped down last year. Within a few months of assuming the top post, Nadar was named the wealthiest woman in India with a net worth of Rs 54,850 crore. More here.
6. Aruna Jayanthi
Aruna Jayanthi is another heavyweight business name from India, who is the present managing director of Capgemini’s Asia-Pacific-Latin America arm and was previously the CEO of the multinational IT company’s India operations. Fortune and Business Today have recognised the leader as one of the most powerful women in business. More here.
7. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
What is a list of Indian businesswomen without Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw’s name starring on it? The founder of Biocon, Mazumdar-Shaw sowed the seed of her business in 1978 in the garage of her house with funding of just Rs 10,000. After braving through a series of highs and lows brought on by gender barriers, she raised her biopharmaceutical company to spearhead affordable innovation in the industry. More here.