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Empowered female leadership panel recap from Bangalore

- December 16, 2013 - 0 Comments

After three exciting days in Bangalore, delegates from the San Francisco-Bangalore Sister City Initiative completed their trip on a high note. The two cities are currently working toward building improved and sustainable environments through the engagement of their respective communities. During the two-day event held on December 2 and 3, delegates from the sister cities achieved one of their many goals by signing 11 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to continue to build and strengthen the cities’ existing relationship.

In conjunction with the initiative and the three-day event, Cisco hosted a panel of six outstanding women who are ranked in the top of their field to discuss what it takes for females to succeed in the modern business world. The panel, which was broadcast live last week via Cisco TelePresence connected the panelists from Bangalore; New York City; and San Jose, Calif.

Each gave an inside look into their rise to the top, but highlighted many of the challenges it took to get there.

The stellar lineup of panelists included:

  1. Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Cisco
  2. Rani N. Borkar, Vice President General Manager, Intel Architecture Development Group
  3. Reshma Saujani, Founder, Girls Who Code
  4. Revathy Ashok, Former Managing Director, Tishman Speyer
  5. Anu Natarajan, Vice Mayor of Fremont, Calif.
  6. Priya Tandon, Founder & Chair of IndUS Setu Global Foundation

To kick off the panel, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee emphasized the important of bringing gender equality to the workforce. The city of San Francisco follows this philosophy since many women hold high-level positions within its government.

Cisco’s panel moderator Karen Snell introduced each panelist and shared a quote from Cisco’s Padmasree Warrior, “I take work seriously, but not myself.”

Warrior explained that anything in business must retain a human element. When entering the workforce, she said it’s crucial to not only have a work identity, but maintain a separate personal identity.

Other topics addressed during the panel focused on how women should seek mentorship, how they should handle criticism from peers in the work place and how to maintain a proper work/life balance.

On seeking mentorship, Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code – a program geared toward teen girls to teach them relevant skills for computing fields – said because so few women enter the STEM field, the ones who do aren’t seeing others who look like them. But women need female mentors. So if more women enter fields like computer science and engineering, they can become the mentors for the future generations of women to enter those same fields.

When asked about handling criticism from peers, Revathy Ashok suggested that women should disregard gender as an issue but to “learn to fight the battle differently.”

Ashok, who for years worked alongside men and no other women, explained that she never felt she had the “luxury” to think of gender as in issue in the workforce and learned to adapt accordingly. Despite her personal experience, Ashok said she is seeing an overall shift in how the technology industry as a whole has begun to change its attitude toward women.

But while attitudes toward women may be improving since in many cases the proverbial glass ceiling has already been shattered, underlying factors still remain for woman as they continue to climb the corporate ladder like raising a family in addition to advancing a career.

During the panel discussion, Anu Natarajan said when women hold a career and also raise a family, it’s ok to ask for help when it’s needed and should accept help from a spouse or family member. Women have a responsibility to “not act like victims,” so when maintaining both a work and family life, it’s key to define a roadmap that allows for both.

Missed the live panel? Watch it here at 

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