With Mentorship, Jaya Mehrotra Helps Women Leaders Tackle Workplace

In a conversation with SheThePeople, Jaya Mehrotra talks about her experience in the banking and investment sector, the biases she faced, establishing the Women Leadership Circle, and how mentorship can help empower women in India's workforce. 

Bhana Bisht
Aug 26, 2023 13:45 IST
Jaya Mehrotra

Jaya Mehrotra

Jaya Mehrotra's journey as a leadership coach began at a challenging crossroads in her life. In 2008, as the markets were in turmoil, she found herself feeling vulnerable and uncertain about how to manage the challenges that came her way. Despite having achieved success in her career, she felt overwhelmed and unsure of how to navigate the difficulties she was facing. The culture at work, back in 2008 didn't provide the level of support and connection she was seeking and she wanted to change this. 

It was during this time that she realised the importance of having the right support and mentorship in life. This realisation motivated her to become a leadership coach, as she wanted to help others who might find themselves in similar situations. Today, Mehrotra is passionate about empowering all C-suite executives, entrepreneurs, and women leaders to overcome their challenges and reach their full potential, just as she was able to do.

In a conversation with SheThePeople, Jaya Mehrotra talks about her experience in the banking and investment sector, the biases she faced, establishing the Women Leadership Circle, and why the right mentorship is the key to uplifting all women if we want to bring equality to India's workforce. 

Excerpts from the interview 


How did the Women Leadership Circle happen? 

Women Leadership Circle (WLC) was not just a conscious choice, but a story that had been brewing within me for years. As a passionate advocate for women in leadership positions, I always wanted to create a community where women could come together, share their experiences, and inspire each other. The idea of WLC was born when we hosted our first Circle event, and the energy in the room was electric. The voices of these incredible women resonated deeply within me, and we knew that we had to convert it into a chapter. Since then, WLC has grown into a thriving community of women leaders who uplift and support each other, inspiring women to take charge and lead the way.

You spent two decades in the financial services industry. Did you face bias at a time when the industry, for a larger part, was male-dominated? 


During my twenty-year tenure in the financial services industry, the industry was composed of men and women equally. But, as I went ahead in the corporate pyramid, I observed that the senior positions were largely composed of men as many women in their 30s had to drop out or quit their careers giving in to the family burden or societal pressure as juggling between home and office kept getting difficult. The industry's culture and structure reflected societal norms of the time, which presented unique obstacles for women.

One significant challenge I faced was returning to work after maternity leave. The culture at the time wasn't always accommodating to women with family obligations, making it difficult to balance work and home responsibilities. This resulted in many women leaving the industry, while others struggled to keep up with the demands of their work while also managing their home life.

Despite these challenges, I am encouraged by the progress that has been made in recent years. Companies are taking active steps to provide more support for women at work, and there is now greater awareness and understanding of the unique challenges that women face.


As someone who spent a long time in the banking space and now that you’re seeing a plethora of women taking charge of their finances, do you think the gender gap has minimised with respect to women making their own investments? 

As someone who spent a long time in the banking space, I am thrilled to see a plethora of women taking charge of their own finances and becoming financially independent. In the past, society conditioned women to believe that investing and managing money was not their domain. However, the last two to three decades have witnessed a sea change in this regard, and women have become pioneers in this space, creating and managing wealth.

It's time to recognise that women are natural at managing money, having been CFOs at home for centuries. By teaching women early on how to manage wealth, we can bring about significant progress across the country. The gender gap with respect to women making their own investments has undoubtedly diminished, but there is still work to be done. 


What were the primary challenges you faced in starting out as a leadership coach in India?

The biggest challenge was the lack of infrastructure or structure for coaches to work closely with businesses. Coaching was seen as a luxury and was only offered to a select few C-suite or CEO-level executives. This made it challenging for me to establish myself in the market and get referred for work.

However, over time, the coaching industry has evolved, and coaching has become a necessity for businesses to survive and thrive in the ever-changing landscape of the business world. I have been able to navigate through the challenges that come with self-employment and establish myself as a leader and mentor in the industry.


I believe we can have more diversity in people getting coached across gender types. Hence, I strive to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome and supported, and I am committed to making coaching accessible to all.

Because mentorship is an initiative that can be life-altering. How important do you think mentorship is today?

As a leadership coach with over a decade of experience, I can confidently say that mentorship is one of the most critical initiatives for personal and professional development. It is a well-known fact that individuals who are mentored, either internally within their organization or sponsored by a mentor, tend to see greater career growth and development than those who do not receive such guidance.


Mentorship is not only beneficial for individuals but also for organisations. A mentor can help build a strong leadership pipeline by identifying and nurturing talent, enhancing employee engagement and retention, and creating a culture of continuous learning and growth.

I have seen firsthand the transformational power of coaching, and I am committed to providing the best possible guidance and support to my clients. I believe that everyone can benefit from having a coach, regardless of their level of experience or industry. 

How has your experience been in terms of outreach via digital mediums? 

I have found that outreach via digital mediums has allowed me to connect with individuals and groups from all around the world, in a way that was previously impossible.

One of the most rewarding aspects of using digital mediums for outreach has been the ability to connect with individuals who may not have had access to traditional coaching or mentorship opportunities in the past.

Moreover, digital mediums have also enabled me to offer more flexible and convenient coaching options to my clients that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. This has allowed me to better cater to the needs and schedules of my clients and has ultimately led to more successful outcomes.

How can women’s entrepreneurship change the game regarding gender equality in business?

Once upon a time, the business world was largely dominated by a single gender. But in recent years, women have been breaking through barriers and starting their own businesses, challenging traditional gender norms and paving the way for greater gender equality.

I have seen firsthand the transformative power of women's entrepreneurship. Women entrepreneurs are not afraid to think outside the box and challenge the status quo. They are often able to see the big picture, understand the needs of their customers, and create products and services that meet those needs. This is especially important in today's world, where consumers are increasingly demanding socially and environmentally responsible businesses.

Women who start their own businesses have the opportunity to close the gender pay gap. They can set their own rates and pay themselves what they're worth, which can be especially important for women who have been historically underpaid and undervalued in the workplace.

Which factor has impacted your growth as a leader?

I am constantly driven by the desire to evolve and empower myself in new roles. I believe that growth is a journey, not a destination and that we should always be pushing ourselves to learn and improve. This is particularly important in the fast-paced, constantly changing world of business and leadership.

One of the key factors that have impacted my growth as a leader is my experience in the financial industry. This industry is known for its intense competition and pressure, and it has taught me the importance of resilience, adaptability, and strategic thinking. It has also given me a deep understanding of the importance of financial literacy and business acumen in leadership.

What advice would you give women who are climbing the leadership ladder? 

I have had the privilege of working with many women who are climbing the leadership ladder. Through my experience, I have learned that several key pieces of advice can help women succeed in their journey.

Firstly, it is important for women to embrace their unique strengths and skills. Often, women try to emulate male leadership styles and behaviours, thinking that this is what is expected of them. However, women bring a unique set of qualities to the table, such as empathy, collaboration, and inclusivity, which are essential for effective leadership. 

Secondly, women need to be intentional about building their networks and seeking out mentors and sponsors who can support their growth. Finally, women need to be fearless in advocating for themselves and their ideas. Too often, women hold back from speaking up or taking risks, for fear of being perceived as too aggressive or pushy. However, women need to have the confidence to advocate for themselves and their ideas, and to take risks in pursuit of their goals. 

Suggested reading: How Lakshmi V. Venkatesan Empowers Grampreneurs With A Unique Mentorship Model

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