Upgradation to the C-Suite

With an emphasis on practical learning and grooming of talent, institutes across the world are developing special management programmes to equip women with the knowledge and tools needed to elevate themselves to the leadership positions. Gauri Rane discovers the new trend

The role of women in India has traditionally been seen as a homemaker. Categorization of such stereotypes has had the effect of minimizing their direct participation in the economic growth. To empower these women to participate equally in family-managed businesses or to set up their own ventures, B-schools across the country and even internationally have been promoting special management education programmes for women.

It is a known fact that when it comes to undertaking any economic activity, women face problems that are quite different from those that confront men. “Especially in societies like India, where the home-maker/ mother/ wife role of the woman has traditionally been given priority, setting up a business or even taking up a job has to fit in to the framework of her traditionally assigned role,” says Sujata Mukherjee, Faculty In-Charge, Enterprise Training Programme for Women (ETW), Narsee Monjee Institute of Management. As such, issues like acquiring capital, balancing family and business issues, networking with people outside the home, etc need to be answered in a manner quite different from a man. It is to help women to find apt solutions to these hurdles that NMIMS has started the ETW. “The programm looks at all these issues from the woman’s point-of-view,” explains Mukherjee, adding that it also provides a platform for women to interact with other women, share their concerns, and understand how other women are handling the same concerns.

Professor G Sabarinathan, Chairperson, NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, which runs the Management Programme for Women Entrepreneurs says, “The programme was originally started with the support of Oxford University's initiative to train women in entrepreneurship as a means of livelihood.” However, today, it has morphed in response to the needs of the women signing up for the programme.

Similarly, at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, the Family Managed Business department too has been conducting the Women Manager Programme. “Our idea was to help women of families who have businesses to learn and understand business concepts with equal weightage on family and business issues,” explains, Parimal Merchant, director, Family Managed Business, SPJMR.

Programmes like these are quite popular among women mangers/ entrepreneurs. Apart from getting exposure to a more structured learning of how to run a business, participants get to meet other women-entrepreneurs, many of whom are alumni of the same programme and are now running successful businesses. “A peek into their route to progress helps contribute to the participant’s self-confidence much more than a mixed programme would ever succeed in doing,” explains Mukherjee.

The IIM-B programme addresses needs of women entrepreneurs who have recently started off and who will benefit from a structured training programme . “The curriculum has been redesigned to reflect this positioning. It includes structured mentoring by NSRCEL’s experienced mentors as part of the curriculum,” informs Sabarinathan.

So, how is this programme different from other management programmes? Academicians explain that such programmes are specially modified to suit the needs of the students. “The emphasis is on delivering a set of learnings that the entrepreneur can use straightway in planning and organizing her enterprise for growth over a three year period following the programme,” explains Sabrarinathan. SPJIMR differentiates its course as an extension of the Family Managed Business Programme. “Our pedagogy is application oriented, focused with real life examples and anecdotes,” explains Merchant.

Students, receive inputs on essentials of book keeping, marketing and negotiation skills, staffing approaches, management of finances and so on. “More importantly they use all the learning in developing a business plan that serves as a roadmap for them to manage their growth,” says Sabarinathan.

The old notion that managing a large enterprise requires military traits and hence men are likely to be more effective at managing is now passé say academicians. There is a growing recognition that women may be better suited for this role. Although many of the challenges of starting up are common to both the sexes, there are a few which are specific to women. “Starting up requires the ability to manage multiple tasks, the ability to carry along a number of stakeholders and the patience and determination to nurture an enterprise through its initial years. That establishes a compelling case for more women to try their hand at entrepreneurship,” signs off Sabarinathan.

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