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Business Czarinas


Breaking The Glass Ceiling
KS NARAYANAN | New Delhi, December 27, 2013 12:07
Tags : Business Czarinas | S.N Chary Bloomsbury | Chanda Kochhar | Devita Saraf | ICICI | Zenith Computers | Kalpana Morparia | JP Morgan India Private Limited | Preetha | Apollo Hospitals |

The economic reforms that kicked off in 1991 not only ended the licence permit raj but also gave boost to private enterprise and entrepreneurs to bloom. As a consequence the market has been flooded with reports, stories and with the books on profiles of business leaders & leadership. However finding a woman heading a business corporation is a rare event across the world and rarer still in the Indian business. With this premise, Prof S.N.Chary at the IIM Bangalore has authored Business Czarinas profiling a dozen Indian women business leaders.
Before exploring his subjects Prof Chary in his thirty page long introduction discusses the position of women in India and points out to several factors affecting her existence in the male dominated patriarchal society.

“But, despite all such crippling problems, some Indian women have shown the gumption to succeed tremendously in the country’s big business world”, writes Prof Chary.

The dozen business czarinas are Chanda Kochhar-Managing Director and CEO, ICICI Bank Limited, Devita Saraf-CEO Vu Telepresence;Excecutive Director Zenith Computers, Kalpana Morparia-CEO JP Morgan India Private Limited, Preetha- MD Apollo Hospitals & Sangeeta Reddy- Jt MD Apollo Hospitals, Roopa Kudva-MD & CEO, CRISIL Limited, Region Head, South Asia, Standard & Poor’s Sharan Apparao-Founder Apparao Galleries, Vinita Bali-MD Britannia Industries Ltd and Zia Modi-Founding Partners, AZB & Partners.

All of them are popular and frequently appear in media. But what makes the book different from others is that the author has allowed these czarinas to speak for themselves with a short profiles running to two to three page on each of them. When a reader skims the surface of the book one might find these interviews a little flattery.  Chary has done this to make the czarinas to explore their different facet. This also makes it an interesting read and is not on heavy on readers. For instance each of these business leaders is pursuing Kathak, odissi, yoga…

Also interviews point out the growth of institutions that nurtured them and how they continue to grow.

Each interview, running on an average of 25-30 odd pages, did not come by easily. Despite his three decades of teaching at the prestigious management school, author had to prove his credentials and more than one business czarinas ensured nothing personal and not too many women related question were asked. “It was indeed an eye opening insight that even at the highest level of the business hierarchy, women still feel insecure, unsure and apprehensive,” Prof Chary writes.

Leaders in their own right, all of them had a strong family support system.

Also some of them had fine mentors who helped shape their careers. For instance many of the interviewees had talent spotters like K V Kamath, N Vaghul and SS Nadkarni who not only identified and nurtured their talent irrespective of the gender and also built gender neutral institutions like ICICI Bank.  Similarly Kudva of CRISIL was encouraged by Pradip Shah and Ravimohan. Devita Saraf’s father Rajkumar Saraf, owner of Zenith Computers was pioneering figure in Indian IT business, Dr Pratap Reddy mentored his daughters-Sangeeta and Preeta while Zia Mody’s illustrious father Soli Sorabjee was a guiding influence on her. All these mentors pushed these women out of their comfort zone to face challenges.

Chanda Kochhar credits both the enabling family and work environment for her success. “Nothing can be done if your family doesn’t cooperate and if your organisation does not believe in gender neutrality.”

Though the book has shaped well author seems to have ignored conveniently on asking about controversies that could embarrass the interviewees.

It would have also been nice if succession battles were probed.  After it was publicly made known that Ms Kochhar would be the next managing director and CEO in 2009, there was hemorrhaging at the top. Other contenders exited—Shikha Sharma left to head Axis Bank Ltd and V. Vaidyanathan joined Future Capital Holdings Ltd. Nachiket Mor, who was earlier the deputy MD of the bank and headed ICICI Foundation for a while, now works for SughaVazhvu Health Care Pvt. Ltd, a rural healthcare services firm, though he was once considered a favourite to succeed Kamath.
Why did Prof Chary not focus on the succession battle and as to what advantage she had to edge out her colleagues both male and a women in the final race?

In the final analysis one wonders why the brilliant professor failed to come up with a single hard-hitting question. Instead the book turns to be a PR exercise--almost a textbook case of how an academic can get overawed by personalities.

Author: S.N Chary Bloomsbury
Edition: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-93-82951-78-0
Pages: 283
Price: Rs 499

Author: S.N Chary Bloomsbury

Edition: Hardcover

ISBN:  978-93-82951-78-0

Pages: 283

Price: Rs. 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017