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The Iron women of Pune

Saturday, 8 March 2014 - 2:25pm IST | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA
Women in a man’s world : dna speaks to six enthusiastic women who have made it big in fields that have had men rule for years
  • Women-Pune Iron women of pune File Photo DNA

I was more intrinsic when it came to recognising what I am capable of in this sector

Kruti Lalit Kumar Jain was one of the youngest women entrepreneurs to start in the city. Recalling her complete unplanned decision to join her father’s office Kruti says, “I was 15 and the idea was to drive out my father from the office during summer vacation. It was only after a matter of time that I realised how much I enjoy working with him.”

Kruti completed her BBA LL.B (Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Legislative Law) from Symbiosis College, Pune. She reports to the chairman and managing director and is responsible for developing and executing business strategies against agreed growth plans of the company. She is heading all business and projects, she leads the respective teams to achieve budgetary target of turnover, profits for sustainable growth of the company. 

“I was more intrinsic when it came to recognising what I am capable of doing. It is a myth that women can’t do technical jobs and soon that will change as they have proved themselves time and again in various sectors. They are powerful, confident, aggressive and everything that is required to reach the top. The only reason it is not called a woman’s world is because we are not expressive enough but that will change soon with globalisation,” says Kruti. 

Kruti Lalit Kumar Jain 

director, Kumar Urban Development Limited




Women ensure that they put in every minute of their time outside their homes productively

An architect by profession Anagha Paranjape Purohit has been passionate about cities, their complexity, and hustle-bustle. She says, “How we all disliked cities yet more and more people were coming to cities! So in a way, cities were and are a riddle in India and I chose to find more about them in my academic and professional career as an urban planner.” A few years ago, a group of friends were discussing about a very smelly naala that runs behind their home. “I heard this talk cropping up repeatedly and made a proposal to use Sunday mornings to clean it up.” She gathered a group of about 15 people every Sunday morning and soon the Municipal Corporation officials along with the local corporator turned up one Sunday with trucks and gear. The entire naala stretch was cleaned up in one day. Urban planning not about outlining plans for cities and regions. It’s about connecting people, involving people to participate, ensuring that plans made for neighbourhoods are adequately communicated to the people and gathering public opinion of policy and plans as well. She further adds, “I am more involved in this aspect of urban planning, where I have undertaken upon me that I will communicate plans and policies to the citizens through simple words and then let people make their own judgment of what is good or bad for them.” Politics just happened on the way for Purohit. She says “I don’t come from a family of political background so contesting elections was like taking a stand that if leaders are not interested in knowing and working with citizens, then one of the citizens should attempt to become a leader.”

Currently, it is seen that there are fewer women who are in politics, particularly if they are not daughters or wives of known political names. Purohit considers this as a benefit for her rather than a drawback as people look at her with a clean slate. “ I have been taking lessons in Public Policy making. I feel this is an essential component for all elected leaders . I don’t think, our local politics is even thinking about these issues, but I feel that unless we bring this into politics, we may be losing out on the ability of our elected leaders to actually make good public policy.”

Purohit feels that hurdles as a woman are really non-existent. They are all a figment of our imagination. “Duties on the home front and children do require women to compromise on the time that they can spend on their careers, but I think the amount of time that a woman spends outside the home, is much more focused, concentrated and productive than a man’s. “

Purohit leads a team of women at her office and she finds that though she has to deal with more instances of leaves for children’s sickness than their own, “I feel we end up being more productive than a men’s team. Women just ensure that they put in every minute of their time outside their homes productively.”

Purohit does not carry a political colour yet, she is open to giving technical input. She works with representatives of almost all political parties that wish to know about her views on urban policy in Pune. Slowly, she hopes to extend this outside of Pune too.

Anagha Paranjape Purohit, architect & policy maker



I practice and promote work-life balance, as well as sensitivity in work culture

Naazneen Boocha started her career over 20 years ago. Today she is the executive vice president – delivery at Extentia Information Technology.”I Was part of the founding team of Extentia in 1998. I retained, cultivated and have grown relationships over 15 plus years at Extentia, both with customers and team members,” says Naazneen, who adopted a strong management and work ethic, commitment to professionalism, high standards and mentoring 

Uncompromising personal and business integrity. 

“I took challenging business environments head on and never saw being a woman as a disadvantage. I keenly practice and promote work/life balance, as well as sensitivity in work culture – it’s important to empathize with people,”added Naazneen. 

On the myth that it is a man’s world, Naazneen shares, “Does this myth exist anymore, or can it exist anymore? Look at the women in key leadership positions at Extentia. Extentia has a record of hiring a significant proportion of women among its staff since the company was founded in 1998. In a fair and progressive environment, women occupy senior positions in Extentia, and are key decision makers in the company. About 33 per cent of the staff are women.”

She is associated with Sakaar, Extentia’s social responsibility project that mainly focuses on social awareness, helping the underprivileged and providing support to charitable institutions. 

Naazneen Boocha, 

Executive Vice President – Delivery at Extentia Information Technology




I studied law to be able to fight cases on my own

On the first day that lady teshildar Shilpa Thokade took charge she was threatened. But this did not stop her for carrying out all the activities assigned to her. Recalling that day she says, “I was told that 12 people have come and gone before me so it is just a matter of time before I am asked to leave too. I very calmly replied that I shall work till I am transferred.”

Thokade worked for 14 months in the area and had made the mafia run helter-skelter. Recently, Thokade has been posted in Pune as the District Assistant Supply officer.

She hails from Kurdewadi, Thokade completed her graduation in science and attempted the Sub-inspector examination.

Thokade adds, “When I joined in Solapur the situation was unusual as no officer was ready to work in the area and when I went to the root cause and found that the Sand Mafia terror was creating trouble.” 

In the span of 14 months, she registered 27 criminal complaints against sand mafia and other 300 complaints on other illegal activities, ` 3 crore penalty amount and has seized 600 boats and vehicles use for illegal activities. She adds, “During trials in court I noticed that the government public prosecutor is not pleading the case properly, so I started studying law and after completing the course of LLB pleaded the case in-person.” 

Shilpa Thokade, Tehsildar



My father was even willing to mortgage the house to support my ambition

After the heinous rape and murder Naina Pujara in 2008, one concerned and fiercely motivated woman decided to take a step towards making the city safer for women in the form of a taxi service designed exclusively to make women feel secure. Varsha Gaikwad realised that such a service would also open up new avenues for women’s employment, and her idea was an immediate hit. “In spite of not advertising our business, we received a huge positive response from women commuters and parents right from the start.”

Sadly, it wasn’t meant to last. Within months of launching “Let Them Drive”, a taxi service with an all-women driving staff, Gaikwad learned the hard way that keeping her dream on the road would take a lot more than she had bargained for. “We couldn’t find enough women drivers. Women found it very difficult to cope with the stress of working long hours, especially the fact that they had to keep driving for prolonged periods. It was physically taxing for them and they were unable to perform as well as they were expected to. Petrol prices kept escalating and the company was unable to turn a profit. Although this was supposed to be a form of social service, in a sense, the bottom line remains that for a company to survive it must make enough to run.”

“My father was even willing to mortgage the house to support my ambition. However, it was the other people who I was counting on who let me down. A lot of them promised me cars...but in the end it was my family that really came through for me.”All hope is not lost – Gaikwad intends to re-launch the service in less than two months to make sure women don’t have to worry about getting lifts from strangers.

Varsha Gaikwad, founder, Let Them Drive



I never let the concept of ‘glass ceiling’ affect my career path

Breaking the notion of women being unable to climb the corporate ladder is Gunjan Shukla, general manager at ‘ThoughtWorks’ Pune. In her current position, Gunjan is responsible for the operations, delivery and demand for the Pune operations at ThoughtWorks. 

Gunjan describes her experience as a model for future aspiring women corporate leaders, “I never let the concept of ‘glass ceiling’ affect my career path. Personally, I believe that women who are assertive tend to be involved in debates regarding the concept of ‘glass ceiling’. I always stayed focused on how I could perform better than I did yesterday. Not saying ‘no’ at the start of any conversation was something I adapted to. Unfortunately its only when I go outside for any transaction that I am faced with awkward situations”

When asked about her support system, She said “I have a five year old daughter. In your career you reach at a point where you have make a call and balance your family life with your professional life. I had a very supportive family who let me express my individuality and follow my professional dream.” She added, “Even at the office one must realise one’s limitations and be straightforward in order to succeed.”

Gunjan Shukla, General Manager at ‘ThoughtWorks’


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