A mentoring workshop as well as leadership programme for women professionals, Corporate Diva is the only forum of its kind in India. Saumya Mehrotra reports from the event’s first NCR edition.
The first NCR edition of Corporate Diva, a leadership and upskilling programme for women professionals, was organised at Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Gurugram on 7-8 September. The event was aimed at instilling business smarts and leadership qualities into the participants, who were mentored by such prominent personalities as Anurag Batra, chairman, Business World magazine; Army veteran Major D.P. Singh; Kavita Rao, CEO, Learners Route; and Amrit Ahuja, former communications director, Facebook India.
Organised by the Health of Women (HOW) Forum, Corporate Diva makes a significant contribution to the discourse surrounding the subject of women’s empowerment in India. Dipika Trehan, founder of HOW Forum, realised that there were very few platforms in India that celebrate womanhood beyond the parameters of physical beauty. “Women are often awarded at beauty contests and fashion shows, but their intellect is not celebrated in the same way. Nor their professional skills,” she said.
Four previous editions of Corporate Diva have been held in Bangalore over the past few years. Participants at both the Bangalore and Delhi chapters included women employees and entrepreneurs on their way up the corporate ladder. They were selected on the basis of their professional and personal attributes. After a rigorous short-listing and screening process, only 12 participants made the cut for the Delhi event.
Dipika Trehan has been working extensively on areas related to women’s empowerment. She was awarded a scholarship by the government of Israel in 2018 for their “Innovation in Women’s Health” programme. This was a four-week course for professionals in the health management sector, aimed at finding new solutions to healthcare issues faced by women around the world.
“A survey I did back in 2015 made me realise that there has to be, no matter how small, a forum that looks beyond physical beauty. Something that makes us look towards and deeper into a woman’s intellect and her calibre. To look at her as a leader,” Trehan told Guardian 20. She now hopes to encourage more women to take up similar initiatives, so that they continue the tradition of “women empowering women”.
The Delhi-NCR chapter began, on 7 September, with an orientation ceremony for the selected participants. There was a series of workshops on topics like gender sensitisation and women’s safety. The workshop on “Self-discipline in Leadership” was conducted by Lt. General Randhir Kumar Mehta. The day ended with the screening of a National Geographic film, entitled Free Solo, a documentary about the American rock climber Alex Honnold, who accomplished the world’s most dangerous solo climb, of a 3,000-foot vertical rock formation, in 2017. The film served as an example of how leadership skills can stand you in good stead in different walks of life.
The second day of Corporate Diva began with a two-hour workshop on “Women and Innovation” by Kavita Rao, CEO, Learners Route. Later on, the contestants were asked to express their views on women’s safety and to come up with innovative safety measures that women can incorporate in their day-to-day life.
The participants were then divided into lots of two for the next round, which was a group discussion. The five finalists selected from this round went through to the individual questions-and-answers round.
Since 8 September was also International Literacy Day, a segment of the second day’s proceedings was devoted to literature. Celebrate Your Wings, a book of poems by Sangeeta Roy Chaudhari, was launched here. Sangeeta is an emerging poet and author who writes on women’s issues. She also won the first edition of Corporate Diva in 2016.
The winner of Corporate Diva’s NCR chapter was Monarky Jain. Followed by the runner-up Arushi Sachdeva, and Chandra Ramakrishnan on the third spot.
“It feels awesome,” Monarky Jain told us after she was declared the winner. “I am the youngest participant here. There’s a lot for people like me to learn here. My sole purpose of coming here was learning.”
Trehan wants to organise more editions of Corporate Diva in the future–with a Mumbai edition slated for some time next year—because she believes that such forums play a crucial and salutary role in a society where patriarchal norms are still the order of the day, and where women are sidelined and undervalued in almost every professional field.