ETPWLA 2023: ETPWLA 2023: Celebrating women power at ETPrime Women Leadership Awards

The Economic Times drew the curtains on the fourth edition of its prestigious ETPrime Women Leadership Awards (ETPWLA) 2023 programme by celebrating women leaders in India Inc and beyond who have demonstrated excellence and positive, lasting impact in their fields. At a Grand Felicitation Ceremony held on August 4, 2023 in Mumbai,

Industry leaders, ETPWLA jury members, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) champions, and esteemed personalities convened at the awards night to felicitate 19 women leaders in India Inc, governance, defence and civil services, social advocacy, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and beyond business, in a true celebration of women power.

Meet the ETPWLA 2023 winners:

  1. Lifetime Achievement Award: Shyamala Gopinath, Ex-Chairperson, HDFC
  2. CEO of the Year:
    • Hina Nagarajan, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Diageo India
    • Soma Mondal, Member, PESB (Public Enterprise Selection Board)
  3. Business Leader of the Year: Vinati Saraf Mutreja, MD and CEO, Vinati Organics
  4. Beyond Business Leader of the Year: Dr. Anjlee Prakash, Chairperson, Learning Links Foundation
  5. Global Indian of the Year: Revathi Advaithi, Chief Executive Officer, Flex
  6. DEI Ally of the Year: Geetika Mehta, Managing Director, Hershey India
  7. Woman Pioneer of the Year: Dr. Tessy Thomas, Former Director General, Aeronautical Systems, DRDO
  8. Woman Leader of the Year – Governance: Ashwini Bhide, IAS, Additional Municipal Commissioner, BMC and Managing Director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation
  9. Woman Leader of the Year – Services:
    • Charu Sinha, IGP – Southern Sector, Central Reserve Police Force
    • Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh, Indian Air Force
    • Sanjukta Parasor, IPS, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), National Investigation Agency (NIA)
  10. Finance Leader of the Year:
    • Jayashree Satagopan, President Corporate & CFO, Coromandel International Limited
    • Parminder Chopra, Finance Director, Power Finance Corporation
  11. Marketing Leader of the Year: Ranjani Krishnaswamy, General Manager, Tanishq Marketing, Titan Company Limited
  12. HR Leader of the Year: Pratibha Priyadarshini, VP and Head of HR, Shell India
  13. Technology Leader of the Year: Priya Kanduri, CTO & Vice President, Cyber Security Services, Happiest Minds Technologies
  14. Sales Leader of the Year: Varij Pujara, Chief Distribution Officer, Aditya Birla Health Insurance
  15. Operations Leader of the Year: Kusum Sharma, Head of Supply Chain and Digital Transformation, Mercedes Benz R&D India
ET Special

The ETPWLA awards night set the stage for each of the 19 winners across 15 award categories to be awarded, recognising their individual demonstration of resilience, innovation and adaptability to spearhead growth, and their collective impact in shattering the glass ceiling and paving the way for for women-led transformation in their respective industries and spheres of work.

These winners — chosen from the pool of 76 profiles shortlisted across 15 award categories from a record-breaking number of over 5,000 applications — were chosen as part of an extensive evaluation process that included detailed research, deliberations, and shortlisting by ET Editors and the Knowledge Partner, Accord India, following which the shortlisted profiles were presented to the jury for a rigorous jury evaluation and selection process. The ETPWLA programme is committed to recognise women’s diverse achievements, as celebrating women’s achievements can go a long way in creating a support system and solidarity network for women across the workforce.

In fact, in her inaugural jury address, on behalf of the ETPWLA 2023 nine-member jury panel, Shanti Ekambaram, Whole-time Director, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, highlighted the need to do more in recognising women’s achievements and celebrating their successes. Ekambaram applauded the winners of ETPWLA 2023 for demonstrating “great passion, willpower and persistence,” whether it is in running a company or an NGO, if in the social sector. She praised initiatives like the ETPLWA programme, while stressing upon the media’s catalytic role in promoting “inclusive development, gender diversity and women empowerment.”

“Affirmations are important for women… Women talk less about themselves. Women are reasonably understated. They don’t necessarily stand on top of a podium and shout on top of their voices…,” said Ekambaram, who heads several functions including Kotak 811, Vigilance, Public Affairs, Human Resources, Marketing & Communications, Treasury, Environment Social Governance (ESG), and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Women today are overcoming constraints of all nature, financial, social, and familial, among others, and contributing to the development of an emerging India, which is in the midst of a massive transformation, Ekambaram added. The ETPWLA jury panel was chaired by Naina Lal Kidwai – Chairperson, India Sanitation Coalition & Chairperson, Rothschild & Co, India, and comprised influential leaders and changemakers from various fields, including Ekambaram, Devina Mehra – Chairperson and Managing Director, First Global; Amit Chandra – Chairperson, Bain Capital Advisors; Karthik Reddy – Managing Partner, Blume Ventures; Dr (Prof) Vikram Singh – Former Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh; Puneet Gupt – Chief Operating Officer, Times Internet; Abha Singh – Advocate and Women’s Rights Activist; and Vaishali Nigam Sinha – Co-Founder & Chairperson, Sustainability, ReNew; Founding Chair, ReNew Foundation. Highlights of the ETPWLA awards night
Here are some of the most memorable highlights of a power-packed awards night, applauding women in diverse leadership roles and taking the narrative on women redefining leadership forward:

Resonating with the overarching theme of celebrating women trailblazing women leaders and pioneers, Anuradha Pal, multi-percussionist, music composer and the world’s first female tabla maestro — a pioneer in her own right who refused to play to the drum beats of a patriarchal musical field — elevated the pitch of the awards night through the resounding notes of her opening performance, a dazzling display of her prowess.

The awards night hit yet another powerful note when Mithali Raj, Former Captain – Indian Women’s Cricket Team, spoke at a Keynote Fireside moderated by Shishir Prasad, Editor, ETPrime, where she shared lessons from her legacy of leadership, both on and off the field. Taking the audience through her phenomenal journey, Raj talked about how a combination of hard work, discipline, compartmentalisation of thoughts, honest self-evaluation and self-awareness, and strong fundamentals have helped her command a 26-year-long journey in cricket.

Sharing lessons from the Mithali Raj playbook, the trailblazing captain said leadership is not only about skills, but about utilising resources wisely and understanding diverse personalities and perspectives. How to beat a slump, a rough patch? Accepting the situation, taking time to go through it, but eventually coming out of it by maintaining a calm and focussed mindset, were some of the advice Raj shared, finishing off with a cricketing metaphor: ‘Watch the ball, not the bowler.’

While the past three editions of the ETPrime Women Leadership Awards have recognised and celebrated leaders who have redefined success for women in India Inc, inspiring millions of girls and women to overcome obstacles and aspire for leadership roles, the 2023 edition expanded the initiative’s scope beyond India Inc – into the realms of services, social advocacy, and governance. In a continuing commitment to track women’s achievements and celebrate the precedents set by women pioneers through a diverse, inclusive and interdisciplinary lens, the newly introduced categories include DEI Ally of the Year; Woman Pioneer of the Year; Woman Leader of the Year – Services; and Woman Leader of the Year – Governance.

Mithali Raj and jury member Abha Singh felicitated the winners Woman Leader of the Year – Governance: Ashwini Bhide, IAS, Additional Municipal Commissioner, BMC and Managing Director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation; and Woman Leader of the Year – Services: Charu Sinha, IGP – Southern Sector, Central Reserve Police Force and Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh, Indian Air Force. Sanjukta Parasor, IPS, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), National Investigation Agency (NIA) was the third winner in the Services category.

Diversity, Inclusion, Allyship
According to a report by EY, 95% of the NIFTY 500 companies have a woman on the board of directors now. But less than 5% of companies have a female chairperson. In 2022, women accounted for about 7% of executive positions on Indian boards, compared to 6% in 2017. It still means that nearly 93% are held by men. The number of women in non executive positions on Indian boards has increased, from 16% in 2017, to around 21% in 2022.

At the heart of the ETPWLA programme’s endeavour to honour women leaders is the focus on allies of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace and beyond. In its commitment to track the evolution of the space and navigate its intersectional dynamics, the programme serves as a platform to honour women leaders who champion women in leadership and D&I principles, as well as celebrate the broader ecosystem of DEI allies and mentors.

In sync with this sentiment, Rekha Menon, Ex-Chairperson and Senior Managing Director, Accenture India, a visionary leader and a DEI champion in India Inc, presented the DEI Ally of the Year award to Geetika Mehta, Managing Director, Hershey India and the Woman Pioneer of the Year award to Dr. Tessy Thomas, Former Director General, Aeronautical Systems, DRDO. Indeed, Menon espoused the criticality of a “measure of diversity” and the information being available in the public domain, much like an omnipresent measure of profitability.

Yet another Leadership Session on the Power of Allyship featured Arunachalam Muruganantham, widely known as the ‘Pad Man’ of India, who spoke on the theme of ‘The Power of Allyship: A Game Changer in the Fight Against Gender Inequity,’ in a conversation moderated by jury member Amit Chandra, Chairperson, Bain Capital Advisors. Muruganantham shared his journey of battling social prejudices and pioneering menstrual health solutions through a one-of-a-kind model of entrepreneurship, leveraging local resources and integrating local women all along the way.

From steel to songs, women power all the way
The CEO of the Year award was won by Hina Nagarajan, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Diageo India and Soma Mondal, Member, PESB (Public Enterprise Selection Board). With both leaders breaking barriers in male-dominated industries, the ETPWLA 2023 grand finale couldn’t have asked for a more fitting end to the awards felicitation ceremony as they represent exceptional resilience, agility and adaptability, sparked with a spirit of innovation and dynamism.

Bringing the curtain down on the event, which soared high in its spirits and sentiments was the soulful rendition of mellifluous melodies of Nagaland by Tetseo Sisters, an all-female band of a quarter of sisters, who paid a lyrical ode to women power. As the sisters shared the folk tale behind each of their women-centric songs, hailing women as nurturers and warriors, the awards night ended in a spectacle of warmth, grace and hope, with top leaders from India Inc and across the realms of services and governance standing up to sway to the tunes of the melodies. A gesture symbolising strength and solidarity and the significance of sisterhood and more.

With Accord India as Knowledge Partner, the latest edition of the ETPrime Women Leadership Awards 2023 initiative is powered by Peak XV Partners and has Accrete Executive Search as Associate Partner; Hero MotoCorp as Mobility Partner; GAIL and Siemens as Bronze Partners.

To know more about the ETPrime Women Leadership Awards 2023, click here.

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