• February 12, 2018

On November 29, 2017, Nathan President and CEO Susan Chodakewitz moderated a panel at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India.

The panel, titled “She Means Business: Mentoring and Networking,” included several distinguished speakers: Vani Kola, Managing Director of Kalaari Capital; Vanitha Narayanan, Chairman at IBM India Private Ltd.; and Sumithra Gomatam, Executive Vice President at Cognizant Technology Solutions and President of Cognizant Digital Operations.

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit is an annual event that gathers entrepreneurs and investors from around the world to discuss, network, and learn from one another. This year’s theme was Women First, Prosperity for All, and the conference agenda focused on women entrepreneurship and global economic growth.

In her introduction to the panel, Ms. Chodakewitz highlighted the importance of women entrepreneurs’ success to the global economy, asking: “How do we ensure that women achieve their goals—our goals—so that nations can achieve theirs?” The panelists discussed ways in which mentoring relationships and networking opportunities have helped them in their careers and gave recommendations for women entrepreneurs seeking mentors and sponsors.

Ms. Gomatam emphasized that women must energetically advocate for themselves, noting that, in her experience, “most women expect that they do their job well and [therefore] they get noticed…and that’s never the case.” Ms. Kola further gave the advice that potential mentees need to be prepared to ask the right questions and know what they need from a mentor before asking to meet or speak.

Once a mentoring relationship has been established, however, it can be both useful and inspiring for women entrepreneurs, as Ms. Narayanan pointed out: “The sponsors in my career—their vision for me has always exceeded my aspirations for myself.”

In a tweet just after the session, the U.S. State Department Office of Global Women’s Issues listed key takeaways from the discussion, including advice to women entrepreneurs that showing deep passion for their work is a productive way to attract mentors.

Ms. Chodakewitz also took part in a follow-up discussion held by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor, as part of the Bureau’s “Diversity in Business” series of interactive streaming events on Facebook Live.

Nathan views gender integration as fundamental to all of our work in development. Our work on women’s economic empowerment and social inclusion includes institutionalizing the use of data in gender planning and programming; strengthening the enabling environment for women-owned enterprises with regulatory frameworks, transportation, the promotion of women’s safety and other efforts; developing the capacity of women-owned and –managed organizations and connecting them to markets and networks; and more.

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