Indian Women Professionals…creating a professional sisterhood
About a year ago, I approached some of my Indian Working Professional girl friends with the idea of finding a way of bringing more of us together. The 5 women I had chosen to talk to were all leaders in their workplaces, and passionate about their careers, I was sure of that. The thought I planted in their heads was that there was no organization dedicated solely to bring Indian women professionals like ourselves together.
There are many reasons I have for being passionate about this cause and my friends echoed many of my concerns and turned out to be just as passionate about making a difference. We discussed the challenges of switching careers, navigating corporate networks and the elusive career ladder. There were plenty of professional networking events held in town, but it was hard to make any meaningful connections at such events. The other issue was that the larger and more impersonal the event, the less likely many of us women were to attend. The more we talked, the more obvious it was to us that we needed our own network where we could help other Indian women looking to grow in their careers. And thus was formed Indian Women Professionals, one warm night at Lakeside Pizza while we sat and sipped on wine and listened to guitar strains from some local band.
We would focus on what we could do to help women help themselves. And anyone who needs help with their career or can help others with their career are free to join. There were so many issues we wanted to tackle: Resume preparation, LinkedIn profiles, Mentorship, Management, Switching careers, Preparation for leadership, Upward management…the list was seemingly endless. We would stay away from negativity we decided, there was plenty to go around without our having to add to it. We were also not going to focus on the solo-preneur…for now.
Our first event (that was planned over many an evening with wine and pizza to accompany), was a speed networking event at our beloved neighborhood coffee shop.
While we did have to make a few phone calls and call in a few favors to get people to commit to attend, the pleasant surprise I had was that those who attended were serious about sharing their experiences and eager to make this work for them. The women in the neighborhood whom we normally chatted with regarding kids soccer schedules or the latest instant pot craze, were happy to have a venue to talk about themselves and what they wanted going forward.
A year hence, after having tested a few such events within our community, we are expanding our reach to all Indian Women Professionals in the Austin area and beyond. I believe there is a need for us. There are women CEOs to be met and discussions to be had and inspiring talks to be given. What is the hope with all of this? That we bring together a vibrant and active community of Indian Women Professionals who can support each other, share their experiences and bring in those vital connections. Connections are everything. Focusing on building close personal ties, we believe, makes all the difference. Will we reach out to organizations like TIE for more visibility? Do we see ourselves as a Lean In community? The ultimate goal would be for us Indian Women to be visible, feel comfortable and be able to give our very best, no matter at what organization. In this era of young male entrepreneurs, we would be emboldened to dream and believe that we Indian Women can do it too.
With that audacious goal in mind, I’m publishing this first blog post.
Written by — Priya Menon, Founder and Driver — Indian Women Professionals