September witnessed a celebration of women in engineering and technology from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The largest IEEE WIE summit was hosted from 11-12 September, 2015 for the first time in the Asia-Pacific region with 200 delegates, 40 speakers, 18 partners and 4 sub-tracks at Hotel Green Park, Chennai, India. IEEE Young Professionals partnered with the summit in hosting the Early Career track.
With the theme – “Beyond Yourself – Leveraging your strengths and Breaking barriers”, the summit aimed to build a strong network for its attendees and give them actionable data and points of contact as a leg-up in their careers. The mission of this summit was to bring together individuals from different backgrounds of engineering, empower and inspire them into leadership and entrepreneurship. With diversity as a key for both attendees and speakers – the congregation consisted of delegates from Japan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, USA, Sri Lanka and speakers from industries that included Defense, Automotive, Technology, Consulting, Media & Arts, Not-Profit, and many others.
The program was divided into four sub tracks – Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Inspiration (sponsored by IEEE Young Professionals) and Empowerment (sponsored by CISCO, India) with four sessions in each track and a one hour career-planning workshop on the second day of Leadership track. The summit focused on various aspects of a professional career and also included inspiring talks from individuals from non engineering backgrounds.
The first day set the pace for the remainder of the event with multiple networking and learning opportunities. Kumud Srinivasan, President, Intel India opened the conference with a keynote on pushing boundaries, women in leadership and discussed opportunities for diverse influence. The panel discussion by IEEE WIE leaders (three IEEE Global WIE Chairs – past and current) on how WIE Affinity Groups are playing a key role in transforming the role of women as change makers was well received by the audience. Malvika Iyer shared her candid story on how she continued to do what she loved in spite of impairment – PhD in Disability – Inclusion and becoming a Global Changemaker. Her quote – “Disability is in the mind of the observer, not the observed” left the audience awe-struck and received a standing ovation.
Teach for India, showcased leadership in the classroom, with TFI students sharing their stories. Archana Ramachandran, Chennai City Director TFI presented the leadership lessons that fellows learnt from the low-income schools and students.
The technology panel discussed a range of disruptive technologies with larger insights from CISCO. Lavanya Gopalakrishnan, Director CISCO caught the attention of senior delegates in the room while sharing – “Five things I wish I knew early in my career”.
The viral hashtag #ilooklikeanengineer was discussed by Kamolika Peres, Vice President, Ericsson India on how it is important to break the stereotypes about women in technology. For MBA career enthusiasts, the fireside chat with Vibha Kagzi (CEO, ReachIvy & Harvard Business School Alumna) provided useful insights to the top ten frequently asked questions on how and why MBA matters while transitioning from Engineering into Management.
For the early careers/young delegates, talks by Leena Bansal (Globe Trotter who solo travelled 32 countries), Esther Ling (IEEE Larry K Wilson Award recipient) and Ekta Grover (Bloom Reach) stood as great inspiration to be creative and think outside of the box.
The summit ended with a keynote from Lakshmi Pratury on stories around leaders from different cultures and backgrounds – a 12 year old who battled her life with a deadly illness to an entrepreneur from a rural background, who revolutionized women’s hygiene by creating a 1INR sanitary napkin and about young women entrepreneurs and leaders who leverage technology to make this world a better place. The organizing committee was recognized at the closing ceremony along with the support volunteers.
Committee Leads with IEEE Leaders and SICCI President – Mr. Jawahar
Article Contributed by – Preeti Kovvali (Program Curator & Partnerships Chair, 2015 IEEE WIE Leadership Summit). Preeti works at Tech Mahindra as a Service Delivery Leader handling database operations for a major healthcare client. She played a key role to design and curate the program for the IEEE WIE Leadership Summit. She also serves the 2015 Committee Member, Global Strategy Adhoc Committee & Liaison of the IEEE Young Professionals for IEEE WIE.
Article Edited by Dr. Eddie Custovic, Editor-in-Chief, IMPACT by IEEE Young Professionals