And so to Bangalore, a short one hour flight from Goa but a world away in terms of weather (cloudy) and atmosphere (business like). I’ve been invited by the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Women Business Leaders’ Forum, on which I serve as a global advisor, to participate in today’s workshop on mentoring (still a relatively new concept here) entitled “Mentoring as Power Advancement” – so here I am.
Very strange to be back in the corporate world again … other than for interviews, it’s been over three months since I’ve had to prepare for a meeting (drafting notes etc) or get myself appropriately dressed. And, as I wasn’t expecting to be participating in this event, I didn’t bring any proper clothes, so I’ve had to improvise a bit, as I doubt anyone would take me seriously as a potential “global mentor” if I rocked up at the Thomson-Reuters India HQ in my typical Goan attire: sarong, t-shirt, flip-flops. Luckily, I brought a black silk dress out from England, with the goal of getting it re-tailored to fit me. I’d had that done in my first week here, to the tune of £4 and the loss of 4” from the waist and it now looks quite smart, although my footwear (Boden sandals) is less than conventional. However, I’m comforting myself that I will probably be the only woman there not wearing a beautiful sari, who’s dressed in black – and in that case, I’d stand out whatever I wore.
This is such a great topic for the workshop; mentoring is still in its infancy here in corporate India and it’s a privilege to be invited to join in and reconnect with some of the wonderful women I met at last year’s NASSCOM event. It also ties in a little with my work in Goa; I hope that I am providing support and informal mentoring to the 50 girls aged between 7 and 13 who live at Rainbow House and who cannot have too many positive female role models to nurture them and show them the benefits of education and working hard. I love this quotation from the current President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who reminds us that she is both a role model and a mentor to Indian women in saying that she is:
“ … deeply committed to the cause of education and would like to see every person, man and woman, boy and girl, be touched by the light of modern education. Empowerment of women is particularly important to me as I believe this leads to the empowerment of the nation.”
The CII have put me up in a lovely hotel (a comfortable bed! HOT water in the shower! How a month in a 1* hotel has changed me …) and I’m so appreciating the free and fast wireless connectivity in my hotel room that I haven’t even left it since I arrived last night.
But I must venture out now, ahead of the workshop.