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International Women’s Day Interview: Neha Bagaria, CEO, JobsForHer

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Name: Neha
Bagaria

Age: 36

City: Bangalore,
India
Occupation:
Self Employed

Company Name:
JobsForHer




ST: Please tell us briefly about
you.
Neha: Born
and brought up in Mumbai, I graduated from the Wharton School of the University
of Pennsylvania with majors in Finance, Marketing and MIS.  I’ve always been a social entrepreneur at
heart.  During my last semester at
college, I founded my first company Paragon to introduce the Advanced Placement
Program in India, becoming the College Board Representative of India, which is
the body that governs the SAT and AP examinations worldwide. 
When marriage brought me to Bangalore, I started working with Kemwell, a
pharmaceutical services company, in the fields of HR, Finance and Marketing
strategy.  The growth and development
that I experienced at Kemwell was immense, but my passion for social
entrepreneurship continued to stay ignited within me.

ST: Who is a woman that inspires
you the most and why?
Neha: I am
greatly inspired by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and the author of Lean
In.In her book, Sheryl Sandberg explains why the world has such few female
leaders and candidly shares her own challenges in managing her personal and
professional lives. Her words have deeply resonated with me. Moreover, it has
made me realize that I’m not alone in my work-life dilemmas; they are being
faced by women the world over. It has made me realize how important it is that
women support one another to succeed professionally, thus inspiring me to found
JobsForHer.com to enable women to re-enter the workforce.

ST: How are you celebrating this
year’s International Women’s Day?
Neha: This International
Women’s Day, JobsForHer turns 3 and we are launching INKHer-a not for profit
foundation with the objective of bridging the gender gap in our country. It is
a collaboration between INK and JobsForHer. This collaborative platform
aims to create a community of women leaders, provide skilling opportunities
for women from all backgrounds (artists, designers, technologists,
scientists, business leaders) , provide workshops for companies to
increase and grow their women talent, and celebrate achievements of all women.

ST: What is the most important
message you want to send out to all the women around the world on this
occasion?
Neha: For a woman to succeed in the competitive
business landscape, it is imperative that we become comfortable giving equal
weightage to our careers as we do to our other obligations, roles and
responsibilities. And for that we need to build a thick skin and a strong support system.
Because
until we don’t, we won’t be able to create the ecosystem required to support
this  challenging journey to the top of
the corporate ladder.  We will need to
rally the troops and have our backbone structure in place – parents, in-laws,
extended family, friends, and yes, husband too. 
We will need to stop caring about people who don’t understand, and help
the people who we care about to understand. 
We will need to make sacrifices and compromises about being there for
everyone all the time and having everything perfect.  And we will need to stop feeling apologetic
about it.




ST: What according to you is
‘women empowerment’?
Neha: Empowering
women in the workplace in India starts with recognizing and utilizing the
strengths women bring to the table. Out of the 42% educated women in India,
only 24% enter the workforce. Of these, about 19% reach senior-level management
roles, and only  7.7% occupy board seats
and a mere 2.7% are on board chairs. So, empowering women in the workplace in
India starts with recognizing and utilizing the strengths women bring to the
table.

Besides
overcoming job challenges, women balance familial pressures and have to
overcome stereotypical challenges at the peak of their careers. So, companies
recognizing this challenge and giving them the freedom to make their own
schedules, will empower them and make them more self-reliant.

Also,
having a mentor empowers women with the support and advice needed to grow and
build networks. Mentored women will learn to articulate their ambitions to
promote and negotiate for themselves and will work towards understanding the
gaps within their skills early on in their careers, thus hopefully remaining
empowered in the workforce.

As more
businesses in India take part in gender equality measures, like equal pay,
eliminating discrimination and promoting work-family principles, the case for
empowering women in the workplace is likely to become a more recognized goal.

ST: What would you say are the
main challenges facing women at present in India? 
Neha: While I
was on my career break, I noticed that most of my female friends- all
well-educated, qualified and experienced lawyers, architects, engineers, MBAs
–stepping out of their careers and not returning to the workforce.I started
delving into the reasons behind this female brain drain and it became clear
that there are many reentry challenges that need to be addressed in India. These
range from requiring flexibility, regaining confidence, retraining, overcoming
biases and changing mindsets.

ST: Where do you want to see
yourself in next 5 years?
Neha: In the past three years, our portal has grown
from strength to strength with 3500+ companies and 10,000+ jobs so far in
full-time, part-time, work-from-home, returnee programs in diverse functional
areas, industries and cities across India. In the next five years we plan on
scaling up our reach to create a larger impact, scaling up the opportunities
provided on the portal as well as helping women in bridging the gaps through
career-related services such as mentorship, resume-writing assistance, second
career counseling, confidence building workshops, skills upgradation,
networking opportunities, etc.

Neha Bagaria, CEO, JobsForHer

TECHXLR8 Asia