Pune Community Meet: When SHEROES Shared Stories, Solved Challenges And Took Charge
It was a Saturday afternoon, perfect time for networking after a week’s work/quest for work. There were about twenty-five of us, ranging from young to the middle-aged not that age really mattered. There were writers, number crunchers, artists, accountants, advertising professionals, even a psychologist –all professionally active women eager to pit their wits and test their skills and to be suitably recompensed for the same – made up the quorum.
Enthusiasm pervaded the Training Room of the Venture Centre at the NCL Innovation Park as Sonali Bramha (who, along with Paroma Sen steers the Pune chapter of Sheroes). For the benefit of the partially informed, Sonali outlined the raison d’être of SHEROES.in, before handing over to the speaker of the day, with the promise that there would be an in-depth question and answer session later, in the room and later, more informally, over coffee.
The speaker of the day was Shweta Shalini, a 'serial entrepreneur' in her mid-thirties, and now also part of the BJP cadre. Shweta, tellingly dressed in an orange and green cotton sari, launched into an inspiring tale of how she began with being the only ‘woman’ engineer in her company in the 1990s( a word that no longer qualifies the noun ‘engineer’ anymore) and moved on to launching her own Telecom products. Her modus operandi for achieving work-life balance especially impressed the young mothers in the group. An engaging raconteur, she kept the audience interested and amused with descriptions of her experiences and of her world view. It also spoke well of Shweta that she chose the community meet over a concurrent BJP meeting in the city. She takes her commitment to herself and to womanhood seriously and iterated that if she had inspired even one woman that evening, then her job for the day was done.
After Shweta’s departure Sonali took the centre stage and fielded several queries about Sheroes and its workings. There were comments and questions about SHEROES.in the interface, which were explained satisfactorily. For example, it was brought out that one could showcase one’s products/services in the Featured segment for a fee. What also emerged was that several companies who list their requirements do not specify the experience needed for the job. ‘0-24 years’ is often perplexing and frustrating to the applicants. While general issues were addressed that day, the audience was encouraged to write to mentors to discuss particular concerns, so that they may be directed to the appropriate touch points. A representative from the Venture centre then made a short presentation highlighting the Venture Centre’s role in bringing science-based ideas to their entrepreneurial culmination. Venture Centre helps in terms of funding, expertise and infrastructure; their website has the complete information.
And finally – coffee! We spilled out into the canteen for some rollicking PM Modi style chai/coffee pe charcha. The Shero-meets-Shero session was fun. Across age groups and professions, there was a lively talk and animated discussion. We bonded over common interests. The mothers of young families compared notes on the common problems they faced and shared solutions. Business cards changed hands as well. The evening ended on an optimistic high.
Undoubtedly, there will be larger numbers for the meeting in July. Pune Sheroes are definitely on their way to take charge of their careers and reinvent their professional lives .
By- Madhuri Maitra