Perspectives from ISB

Leading up to International Women’s Day this year, as part of the ‘Meet with a LeadHer’ series, I had the opportunity to meet Caroline Rowett, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Chandigarh. It was a room full of incredible women, and the atmosphere ensued a mix of friendly conversation, shared stories, and genuine camaraderie.

We started with a ‘get to know each other’ roundtable discussion about our professional experiences. Caroline recounted her experiences traversing different parts of the world, highlighting the transformations she witnessed and her fondness for Chandigarh. Caroline also gave us a vivid glimpse into the work of the British Deputy High Commission in Chandigarh, particularly their efforts to strengthen UK-India relations. This was not just limited to the trade relations but also the opportunities in the education front through various scholarships.

As the discussion progressed, she emphasised how women’s empowerment is ‘not just a moral imperative’, but also a strategic one. Despite being in her role as a diplomat, she acknowledged the persistent gender disparities, wherein women encounter barriers hindering their full and equal participation in professional spheres.

Our conversations covered so much ground – from the unique challenges and rewards of being a woman leader to the struggles faced by women in the less fortunate parts of the world. Through our discussion, the women in the room realised how over the years, we tend to attribute our success to external factors from acknowledging our worth and contributions. It became evident that it’s high time that we start recognising our value and celebrate our achievements.

As we approached the conclusion of our meeting, Caroline reflected on her journey, mentioning that she never consciously realised she was a woman in what might be considered a man’s job. Instead, she focused solely on doing the best work she could, driven by her passion and dedication to the profession. She elaborated on how, over the years, she has learned to navigate these obstacles with resilience and grace, recognising that her unique perspective and skills as a woman add value to her work.

Our key takeaway from this account was that when it comes to ‘breaking the glass ceiling’, it’s essential to strive towards being seen as a ‘professional who also happens to be a woman’ and not the other way around.

By the end of the meet, we were all buzzing with inspiration. It was a morning that left us all feeling empowered, inspired, and reminded of the importance of celebrating women’s achievements while working towards a more inclusive world.

Organised by the offices of External Relations and Alumni Engagement, ‘Meet with a LeadHer’ is a series of interactive lunch/coffee meets where a woman leader shares perspectives on her journey and achievements with the ISB community.

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