Young women software professionals listened in rapt attention as women speakers from different walks of life spoke of their experiences - how they came up in life and how their immediate relatives and friends helped them – at a panel discussion, organised at Cognizant in Madras Export Processing Zone – Special Economic Zone on Thursday. One message common in what all spoke, however, was the inspiration to ‘do what one really wanted to' become successful and happy.

The most significant observations came from Hemu Ramaiah, founder of Landmark and its former Chief Executive Officer. “I was 18 years old when I decided to have my own business when I turned 30. I was clear that I will sell my business after reaching 50 to get a life,” she said, even as young software professionals applauded her forthrightness.

Recalling her young days when no one else used to read books, she said she was very comfortable with books and knew that her future was around them. The discussion was organised as part of Women Empowered, an initiative of Cognizant aimed at creating an environment for growth, retention and advancement of women professionals. Lakshmi Narayanan, vice-chairman, Cognizant, delivered the key-note address.

Sheela Rani Chunkath, Additional Chief Secretary and Chairman and Managing Director, Handicrafts Development Corporation, Government of Tamil Nadu, recalled her stint in the Department of Health in the late 90's when they strived hard to put an end to the menace of female infanticide. “We created mass awareness programmes, spoke to everyone, earned their confidence and did not arrest anyone,” Ms. Chunkath said. The senior bureaucrat said that the corporate sector to retain the best talent should create facilities for women employees, including crèches at work place.

Among others who took part in the panel discussion included Revathi Raj from Apollo Hospitals, Abigail Aronson, Consul and Country Coordinator for Fraud Prevention Programmes, U.S.Consulate, Chennai and professionals from Cognizant including Sumithra Gomatam, K. Vinayambika and Rajashree Natarajan.

Keywords: Women's Day

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