CNBC-TV18’s Future. Female. Forward celebrates women leaders and impactful changes in Bengaluru

CNBC-TV18’s Future. Female. Forward celebrates women leaders and impactful changes in Bengaluru

This initiative aims to make gender parity a reality.


Mumbai: CNBC-TV18, a purpose-driven brand dedicated to promoting gender parity and empowering women leaders, proudly presents Future. Female. Forward Season 2: The Women’s Collective - Leadership Circle - Bengaluru Edition, presented by HSBC India. Following the success of Season 2's launch in New Delhi and the Leadership Circle in Mumbai, this exclusive event was held on May 31, 2024, at Conrad, Bengaluru, India's IT capital. This initiative aims to make gender parity a reality. Centered around the theme 'Road Less Travelled', the event showcased female entrepreneurs from various backgrounds, igniting meaningful conversations for change.

The evening was kickstarted with a meaningful opening note by CNBC-TV18 managing editor Shereen Bhan. She said “CNBC-TV18's Future. Female. Forward celebrates success, recognizes achievement, and provides a platform to ask tough questions while seeking solutions. The evening unified women from different walks, brought together by their passion, perseverance, and self-belief. Over the past two years, the energy has remained consistent in rooms from Delhi to Davos. I believe it's because every woman here is driven by a single purpose - to claim her story and openly share her hopes, fears, and learnings, hoping to open doors for the women who follow.”

This was followed by an impactful keynote address by HSBC India CEO Hitendra Dave where he said “I believe HSBC India and CNBC-TV18's partnership is something we eagerly anticipate, take pride in, and feel privileged to have. We collaborate with many partners, but this one stands out because of our emotional commitment. When two emotionally committed organizations unite, the outcome is positive. What we are doing here, and what CNBC-TV18 is championing publicly, is bringing this conversation to the forefront. Are we achieving parity and equality of opportunity? Are there conscious or unconscious biases? Can we discuss these issues openly? If we succeed in that, the partnership will have achieved a significant part of its goal. We will look back with satisfaction, knowing we contributed to making this critical topic a subject of discussion in households, companies, families, societies, and programs like this.”

The first chat focused on the ‘Road Less Travelled’ where the panellists included The Live Love Laugh Foundation CEO Anisha Padukone as well as Dr Meeran Borwankar, Retd. IPS Officer. Elaborating further on the theme, Dr. Meeran Borwankar, Retd. IPS said, “It is important to have more women in the service. Currently, women constitute only 12%, and without more representation, female victims may not feel comfortable coming forward with their trauma and complaints. Although most states have reservations for women, families often hold them back from seizing these opportunities and advancing. By encouraging them, we can achieve at least 33% representation, which is the current reservation rate. To conclude, I quote Maya Angelou -"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style."

This was followed by an insightful conversation on ‘Breaking Barriers, Bridging the Gap’ which included the speakers Vaishali Kasture, Co-Founder, SounderConnect; Shalini Kapoor, Chief Technologist APJ, Amazon Web Services; Pavitra Shankar, Executive Director, Brigade; Piyush Chopra, Vice President, RIL; Vinutha Rao M.S., Sr. Vice President, HCLTech; Kavita Chaturvedi, COO, Snacks Business, ITC Foods; and Nandita Sinha, CEO, Myntra.

In this panel, HCLTech Sr. vice president Vinutha Rao M.S. said, “You can't always balance everything; you have to prioritize, and these priorities change at different stages of your life. Starting your career is different from becoming a mother. I've managed by staying focused and clear about my goals at each stage. This clarity gives you conviction and a sense of belonging, which leads to excellence. You'll succeed when you're clear and focused and give your best. This also empowers you to have a voice and be assertive. While microaggressions and other challenges exist in the industry, being clear about your stance and speaking up is crucial. Continuous learning is key, even if you can't always pursue formal programs. The best way to learn is by listening to others, observing senior colleagues, or even learning from your kids, who offer fresh perspectives. Keeping an open mind helps you stay clear and balanced, enabling you to keep moving forward."

Speaking about her experience ITC Foods COO Snacks Business Kavita Chaturvedi said, "My biggest challenge in FMCG was finding a clean washroom while traveling to various places, including upcountry markets, and it remains an issue. However, with more women in senior positions now, companies have begun providing sanitary kits and other products to frontline women, addressing some of these concerns. I hope this situation continues to improve.”

Adding to the conversation Myntra CEO Nandita Sinha said “I believe the core of our work, whether in FMCG, e-commerce, or new-age brands, is centred around women. Many of these businesses are designed for women, yet the decision-making roles often aren't held by them. Over time, ambition and role models have become essential in empowering the younger generation of women, giving them the confidence to design their lives and aim high. Although the progress is gradual, we are witnessing more women in leadership roles. While they may not be at the CXO level or in deal-making positions yet, the trend is shifting. For example, women's participation in e-commerce companies, like Myntra, has increased by 15%. To build businesses where at least 50% of customers are women, we need more women in boardrooms and decision-making roles, starting from the very beginning.”

The concluding session was ‘The Founders Forum; Dream Catchers’. The speakers for this impactful conversation were Sahar Mansoor, founder & CEO, Bare Necessities; Kavita Shenoy, founder & CEO, Voiro; Megha Asher, co-founder & COO, Juicy Chemistry; Malini Adapureddy, founder & CEO, Deconstruct; Private Equity Partnerships, Microsoft, and Lathika Pai, country head - Venture Capital and Private Equity Partnerships, Microsoft.

Venture Capital country head Lathika Pai added, “Twenty years ago when I embarked on my journey as an entrepreneur, there were very few female founders. Today, it's remarkable to witness hundreds of women founders emerging from various backgrounds across India. What's crucial is extending support to these women, particularly during the challenging phases from 0 to 1 and 1 to 10, where they require the most assistance. Although support remains necessary even after reaching 10, the journey becomes more exhilarating. In the early stages, self-doubt and external scrutiny are prevalent. During moments of uncertainty, having a supportive network becomes indispensable. It's essential to have individuals who offer non-judgmental support and with whom you can candidly share your journey. I often share my entrepreneurial experiences, highlighting both the triumphs and setbacks. Moreover, having friends who comprehend your journey is invaluable. Our goal is to nurture such a supportive environment. Together, we aspire to assist 175 women founders initially and aim to expand our support to 1,000 founders. Even if their revenues are modest, collectively, they can create a billion-dollar platform. I seek your assistance and support on this journey."

The event concluded with a beautiful and enriching musical performance by talented singer & musician, Vidya Shah.

CNBC-TV18’s Future Female Forward – The Women’s Collective is proudly presented by HSBC India, and co-presented by HCLTech, along with partners ITC, FedEx, Reliance Industries and FICCI.