The second day of the Global Ambassadors Program mentoring forum opened with panel discussions probing the nature of women’s leadership and how innovation and mentoring within corporate structures can lead to positive outcomes for everyone.
Kaku Nakhate, president and country head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch India welcomed an overflowing crowd at the Taj Palace, and introduced U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell, whose welcoming address challenged guests drawn from the local business and banking sectors. Bank of America Merrill Lynch regional executives were also present, a testament to Bank of America’s commitment to investing in women’s leadership as a catalyst for expanding economic growth.
“This is a call to action for all of us,” said Ambassador Powell. “The Indian economy needs entrepreneurs who bring new ideas to life. A woman with economic independence is a woman with choices. The Global Ambassadors Program will create the enabling and empowering environment needed to stimulate the next generation of women entrepreneurs in India.”
Panelists and speakers included Global Ambassadors Susan Chambers, Geraldine Laybourne, Candace Browning, Julie Fasone Holder, Donna Orender and Janie Wanless, as well as executives from a range of organizations in India and multinational corporations.
Vineet Nayar, chairman and CEO of HCL Technologies, delivered an entertaining keynote address with a core message: Stop promoting women’s advancement as good practice and rephrase it as good business. The company mindset will change and female talent will flourish.
The conference atmosphere during the coffee break buzzed with private sector and civil society leaders and entrepreneurs making connections on what has worked in creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, building support networks and providing meaningful mentoring opportunities to channel women up from middle management to positions of greater impact and responsibility.
A recurring theme throughout the day was the power of self confidence in women’s advancement, and the need to “toot one’s own horn,” as Global Ambassador Gerry Laybourne called on the audience to do – fittingly – the week Durga Puja festivities in India begin to celebrate the goddess and feminine strength.
Global Ambassador Julie Fasone Holder’s final call to action – “Find great mentors” – closed the first conference and all Global Ambassadors and mentees boarded a plane to Mumbai for the second phase of the mentoring forum in India.
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Photos: David Hume Kennerly