Leadership Lessons from The World's Most Powerful Women

In this era of equality, women leaders have carved a niche for themselves across all industries. Indian Women in leadership who have set benchmarks include Chanda Kochhar, Kiran Bedi, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Indira Nooyi, and many others you would have heard or read about. Walking tall at par with their male counterparts, women have grown in leadership roles and at times exceeded expectations across the board.

So if you wondering what is it that these ladies have done differently, read on:

Determination – You have to really want it, and you have to remain determined even in the face of adversity. Possess the skills and put in the time. But more importantly, flame the desire to do something great.

Courage – Women at the top aren’t fearless. They continually challenge themselves. That takes courage. Champion yourself to learn and do what you are capable of. Each day. The day you stop learning, you stop growing.

Think Bigger – In order to achieve big success, you have to have big impact. You have to think like a visionary. Fill the big picture. Connect the dots.

Taking Calculated Risks – Always base your moves on statistics, a careful study of numbers. To move the needle, you have to make big bets, but don’t be rash. You have to know what you stand to gain if it hits the target, and what you stand to lose if it doesn’t go your way.

Discipline – This is the mother of all lessons. It takes discipline to achieve and maintain success. Your routine, your focus, and your ‘eye on the goal’ cannot and should not deter. Sure, course corrections are a regular norm, but don’t go extending yourself too far that the quality of your work suffers. This is important from both a leadership perspective and a career management perspective.

Hiring Smart – One of the best strategy for success is to hire people who are diverse, passionate, and smarter than yourself. Hire them. Trust them. Listen to them. Being surrounded by people of diverse backgrounds opens up newer perspectives for a well-rounded decision making capability. Also, it helps you stay ahead of the curve.

Manage your Career – Once you know your ambition and goals, at each step ask yourself: Where am I now? Do I want to be here? Where am I going? How will I get there? What assignments will help me surpass the next level? We apply these thoughts / skills in business, then why not when managing our career?

Delegate Efficiently, At Work and At Home – The most successful people have learned that they have to have help, and they have to have faith in the people around them, be it at work or be it at home. It’s not easy, but it’s critical in the long run.

Trust Your Abilities – Being optimistic about self, and things, is the biggest advantage one can have in life. Talking to your people (friends, family and colleagues) will help you convey your goals (personal and professional) and also help you understand their perspective and mindset towards you. Trust yourself and showcase your potential at every given opportunity.

Learn the Art of Balancing and Time Management – Women have to create their work-life balance more dedicatedly than men. It is because of the several roles they play, as a mother, a wife, a sister, and many others. This points us to the fact that time management is one of the most crucial skill that women have to imbibe.

Get Inspired, and Motivate Others – We all are gifted with the ability to inspire and motivate others around us. Women happen to do it more compassionately and passionately compared to their male counterparts. This ability should never be allowed to diminish in a woman’s personality as she paves her way up the professional ladder.

It's all about...

These are a few things that women in leadership position follow like a ritual to ensure they stay undeterred and focused.

All said, what also should be considered is that leadership position for anyone cannot be achieved simply by the individual’s struggle. A collective effort from top leaders, family and friends, is vital for a person to advance in his/her career.


Leader Interview

A quick summary of your journey till date, and the different roles you play at BMC

I’m a software engineer by training, I graduated from PICT in 1992. I worked as a researcher with CDAC, and a trainer at NIIT, before stepping in to the corporate world. In 1996, I co-founded a company called EC Cubed. EC Cubed was recognized in its early days as the top 100 companies to watch for in the B2B e-commerce space. The company was funded by large venture capitalists like Battery Ventures, Boston Millenia and other companies like Infosys and Cambridge Technology Partners.

As I progressed in my career path, I joined Virtusa (“VRTU”), a global software services company, where I headed the technology business, and was amongst the top management team that helped the company through its startup years to a successful IPO.

I have co-authored two books - Programming Web Components (McGraw Hills Publications, 1997) and Enterprise E-Commerce (Meghan-Kiffer Press, 1999). Enterprise E-Commerce went on to become a best seller, ranking within the top 25 on business technology management.

I joined BMC Software in 2009, leading the Complementary Product Group, with 5 products in its portfolio mounting to over $170M in business. My primary focus was on making BMC India known for Innovation and Customer Value Realization.

In addition to handling the CPG portfolio, I was Accountable for driving innovation across the site. As part of the charter, I led the Incubator team at BMC India that strengthened the company’s product portfolio in the rapidly changing IT industry landscape. We incubated new products (RemedyForce, ITDA, and Cloud Lifecycle Management) creating positive ripples in the industry. Under CPG, creating strategic alliances, reducing engineering expense, retaining revenue whilst creating alternate revenue for the products, were a few things I was in-charge of. I have had the privilege of being the first General Manager based out of India, managing a global portfolio of customers and products.

Currently, I serve the Asia Pacific and Japan regions as the Chief Customer Officer, responsible for ensuring that customers successfully realize value from the BMC products and solutions they use. I also head BMC India and Ukraine Operations.

Your take on the culture at BMC, especially for women

The culture at BMC is one that drives innovation. It encourages Product Lines to constantly reinvent based on market challenges, and stay relevant in the face of dramatically changing industry landscape.

It is a very inclusive culture with a room for extreme collaboration, transparency and “doing it right” ideology.

We have a women-friendly work culture. We encourage women to take up leadership roles and you will find prominent leaders like Monkia Fahlbusch, Elizabeth Xu, Nayaki Nayyar, and others, setting the pace for rest of the workforce.

At India, recognizing and acknowledging the different roles played by women employees, and taking in to account their needs at different stages in the life, we have worked on implementing different programs at the office.

The Women’s Network group, Women in Technology series, tie-up with Wings Sakhi (for pregnant women employees), Baby Blanket Program (baby shower gift form the org), extended maternity leave, Cocoon (resting room for women), having doctors and gynaecologist on premise, are a few things we have conscientiously put together.

According to you, what are the Top 5 traits of a successful leader

According to me, a successful leader should:

a. Strike a good balance between strategic and tactical decisions

b. Have the risk taking ability, especially when the result is unknown or ambiguous, and drive success

c. Dream Big and Different when executing and bringing to life the vision of the organization

d. Have the ability to share the vision of the org to the last engineer and architect in the team. Engage them and help them find meaning and purpose in life. Help them connect the dots and understand and realize the big picture

e. Stay Curious. Innovate. Imagine the “What if” scenarios more often than not. Make a difference and envision a new future – a new world

We all have that one special person who influences us the most, to step up in life. Who is your role model?

I have had the honor of working with some of the best leaders as I started my career.

  • Faizal Hoque, Co-founder of EC Cubed, taught me all about entrepreneurship
  • John Gillis, Co-founder and CCO at Virtusa, taught me about customer intimacy and how to be a trusted advisor to your customers
  • Paul Avenant, ex-BMC leader, taught me the true meaning of empowerment to realize the maximum potential of a team.

All that I am today, is a culmination of the learning and guidance received from the best in the industry. Of course, there are leaders like Steve Jobs, Jack Welch and Elon Musk, who continue to inspire me, and keep the flame of innovation on.

Pearls of wisdom for BMC employees looking up to you

The one thing I would like to share with everyone is – be here because you are passionate enough to bring about a change, and be a part of the change. You should be self-driven to make a difference.

Do it with your Heart!

Quick Bites:

How do you begin your day?

I wake up early, spend time with my kids and dog, and look forward to my day. Basically, I don't like my mornings rushed.

If you were to sum up yourself in one line, what would it read?

I think of myself as a change agent, because Change can be beautiful!

Share a typical weekend at home

I begin my weekend with sharing coffee with my wife Reshma, and conversing forever.

We workout together, spend time with our children, Simran and Avi, check on their studies and go out. I like going to the spa to rejuvenate, and watching movies with my family.

On the social front, we fulfill the commitments signed up for, and of course, CSR activities on an individual level take priority. Most of my Saturdays are dedicated to the CSR work, and Sunday is family time.

Favorite Quote

Rapid Fire

Leadership, for you,means: COURAGE

Favourite App: SERV’D

Favourite Book: My current favorite read is - Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Who is on Speed Dial #1?: Reshma (Wife)

One thing you never leave home without: Phone

Fitness Mantra: Holistic Fitness

An OCD: Things should be where they belong

Man vs. Machine - your companion if marooned on an island: Reshma

Tarun Sharma with wife Reshma Gupta

Book Review

By Sonia Safri

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

The book is based on the premise that effectiveness is not an inborn quality.

My foray in to the world of non-fiction, has engulfed me (to a certain extent) in to reading more of management and self-help books.

Peter Drucker’s “The Effective Executive” is one eye-opener. The book is based on the premise that effectiveness is not an inborn quality. Effectiveness, can be and, must be learnt and mastered.

So, what makes an effective executive?

The blurb answers it as: The measure of the executive is the ability to "get the right things done." This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mold them into results.

As I dived in to the book, the seven chapters unveiled seven interesting and notable points, with real-life examples making it easier to relate to and understand.

Effectiveness Can Be Learned — Effective leadership is a skill one can learn by understanding what’s expected of you, and focusing on the right things. It’s a differentiating skill that has become increasingly valuable as we’ve moved from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy.

Know Thy Time — Time is a finite resource. We cannot fathom how much time we waste. To accomplish great things, time management and effective time utilization is the key. Keeping a journal, or auditing your day, helps in this process. (Did I hear someone say "Hello Sapience!")

What Can I Contribute — Understanding and focusing on the right things that effectively contribute to the organization is one of the key things for an executive to know and work on.

Making Strength Productive — The key to being effective is to leverage your strengths. Delegate wherever necessary to harness the strength of your team. Weaknesses will be irrelevant. This leaves you with a bit of food for thought: It is important to hire for the right skills, or the potential you see in a candidate.

First Things First — Focus on what’s important now. Leave the past. Tackle issues one at a time. Not everyone is good at multitasking. And it shouldn’t be important.

The Elements of Decision-making — Focus on the important decisions; Determine what is right before making compromises; Understand the objectives of the decision; Jot the outcomes expected or needed; Separate strategic implications from one-off situations; Plan for action and feedback.

Effective Decisions — Start with your gut. Don’t base future planning on today’s (or yesterday’s) way of doing things. Disagreement is a good thing (it means people are thinking about the problem). Find out why it’s happening or you won’t see the big picture, and lastly, don’t forget stats.

To summarize: An effective executive will always focus on team and team work; trust and bank on the strengths of your team; getting things done is important, but more important is to ensure that the right things get done, at the right time, and in the right way; and set clear priorities to manage time effectively.

I would personally recommend this book to everyone in the corporate world. Even otherwise. This learning will make you an effective individual too.

Round Table with Suhas Kelkar

BMC's Women in Technology group helps women in the organization, interact with executives to know about their professional journey, and personal experiences, and share their learning as well.

A Mechanical Engineer by training, a sports person at heart, Vice President of the CTO Office, and now lead for the Global Customer Program by profession, and a gem for BMC – Suhas Kelkar had an open and candid discussion with the ladies, sharing small but really important pearls of wisdom.

Suhas Kelkar

Suhas started the session by sharing his journey with BMC. He was hired to be a part of the Innovation Team. With his visionary approach and outlook, he soon got his arms around BMC’s product portfolio. This saw him rise as the Chief Technology Officer – a trusted adviser to CIOs and CXOs looking to buy solutions, not just products. “A Chief Technology Officer is none other than a glorified salesperson to be honest,” he smiled.

“My start at BMC was great. Unlike one of my previous jobs, where on my first day as a senior manager, I was asked to lay off a team member!” shared Suhas.

Pearls of Wisdom gathered during the Round Table:

Innovation isn’t about just coming up with ideas. The important part is execution. Executing right to bring the idea to life is what makes the innovation valid and successful

Read. Read. Read. You have to read in order to grow. One recommendation: The Other Side of Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble

Fear of failure should not deter you. If you are not failing enough, you are not rising higher

Don’t be stuck on a rank pedestal. Use your strengths, and take calculated risks to learn more and get better

Don’t confuse networking for socializing. Networking might open a door for you, but not support you throughout if you don’t have the right skills and talent

Leaders needn’t be experts in all fields. Accept that fact

Building your personal image is important

Motivate people. Make a connect. Show them the big picture. Help them in their journey towards their goal. That’s when you rise as a leader

Keep the right attitude. Always!

• Don’t think short-term. Always eye the distant vision

BEE - The Lead

By Richa Singh

Pankil Desai, Director of IT (right) welcomed Devendra Jani (left), session speaker and a certified bee keeper.

BMC India's Women's Network and Mitr (India CSR) organized a unique leadership session for all India employees. Devendra Jani, who was invited as the session speaker, is a software engineer by profession, and an environmentalist at heart. He is also a certified Bee-keeper.

Bees, as we know, are the most organized community. Their focus, dedication and leadership skills were beautifully explained by Devendra in his session. He co-related the lives of bees and human beings and inspired the participants with examples.

Devendra highlighted the leadership qualities of the queen bee, and her efficiency with task delegation as per the skill set of the fellow bees. He also emphasized on the loyalty of the bees towards their queen, and their dedication to work and fellow bees.

Participants were excited and thrilled to have attended the session. "The session was really inspirational. The way Devendra explained corporate leadership, and self-motivation values by giving the example of bees was very interesting. We also got to know about the importance of bees from the environment perspective."

Participants doing a Yoga asana (posture) learnt from the bees.
Created By
Sonia Safri

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