- Mallika Dutt is the founder of Breakthrough and Sakhi for South Asian Women. "In 1981, I had just arrived from India. I was wide-eyed and quite green. I was assigned to my first internship with a woman named Charlotte Bunch.
Charlotte sent me to Rotterdam for the first International Meeting on Trafficking in Women and Forced Prostitution. I was a mere junior in college.
I went on to write my senior thesis on forced prostitution in India and graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College.
Ten years later, I joined Charlotte at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. I became a part of the global movement for the recognition of women’s rights ---as human rights.
Charlotte saw something in me and her faith in my abilities has catalyzed decades of work in challenging inequality. I am deeply grateful to her and to the global women’s movement for the incredible inspiration."
- Sonal Shah, Founder and CEO of Sonal J. Shah Event Consultants
"I had been living in New York for about a year when I was watching "Whose Wedding is it Anyway." My wedding planning business was a baby---only 18 months old---but something prompted me to call in to speak to one of the producers of the TV show. What could have been a tough process turned out to be pretty easy. The show producers immediately put me in touch with the casting director and she invited me in for an interview. She wanted to gauge my comfort level with a camera and whether or not I would be a natural.
When the E! network decided they didn't want a show focused on South Asian wedding stories, Loreen Stevens advocated on my behalf. She lobbied for two months. Ultimately, the network picked me to be on the show and I appeared in several episodes of "Whose Wedding is it Anyway?" Loreen then cast me for the spin off show, as an international wedding planner traveling the world. The experience catapulted my career and made me the Sonal J. Shah I am today. I just celebrated 15 years of wedding planning and I am forever grateful to Loreen and the E! network for seeing the magic in me."
- Kavita Mehra is Executive Director of Sakhi for South Asian Women. "In late 2013, I had just wrapped up a role that I absolutely loved. One night, a friend asked me to attend a fundraiser, and it was there that I met Marla. We spoke for a few minutes, and it was clear that we shared a strong connection. A few months later, she called me, asking if I was interested in a role at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark (BGCN). As luck would have it, I was part of the BGCN family for the following three years.
As I my tenure at BGCN came to a close, I was once again uncertain of my next professional move. Marla stood by my side, being my confidante throughout. She remained steadfast, never losing faith in me. Especially when I couldn't see my own value, her unwavering motivation and support helped me get through some of my darkest hours. I am forever grateful for her constant presence."
- In 2007, a colleague I had worked with called to say she had pitched me to be the choreographer for a Disney film. Debra Martin Chase, one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, was currently in India interviewing some of the top choreographers in Bollywood. But in two months, when she returned, she would interview me. I remember it being a chilly fall morning when I went to meet her in Manhattan. I was visibly nervous because I was still early in my career. While my creative juices flowed during our conversation, I walked out of the meeting not knowing what the next 48 hours would hold for me. Two days later, Debra bought me on board to choreograph the "Cheetah Girls One World" film.
Afterwards, I signed with one of the top choreography agencies in the country. I created the dances for game changing projects such as AR Rahman at the Oscars, Priyanka Chopra and Sridevi in "English Vinglish,"the Britney Spears tour, the Black Eyed Peas Tour. If Debra (and my colleague) had not seen the magic in me, all of this would not have been possible.
- Pooja Chandnani Danay, partner and special events coordinator at Woops macarons says someone saw that special something in her five and a half years ago.
"A few friends and I took a chance and opened a holiday booth at the Winter Village at Bryant Park to sell macarons. I was working as an assistant media buyer at a large ad agency and this was a small side hustle.
Nine weeks later, we had logged an eye popping $250,000 in sales, and we realized Woops! was MORE than a side hustle. We wanted to grow it.
Janet, a speciality leasing rep from The Mall at Short Hills took us under her wing and put us in one of the most luxurious malls in the country.
Once we opened our very first Bakeshop, I made Woops! my full time gig. Five years and 40 locations later (corporate and franchised), I am lucky that Janet saw magic in me and my young macaron brand."
- Ruchi Modi Harlalka is Manager of Global HR Operations at PepsiCo. "I attended an executive conference once in Miami. I worked for New York Life at the time. There, I had a chance to hear the Senior VP of Operations for Pepsico give the keynote speech. By chance, I ran into him the next day, and fifteen minutes into the conversation, he invited me to come work for his company. He noted my hunger, my passion, and my will to succeed.
It took some deliberating on my part, but two years later, I joined Pepsico.
The last four years has been extremely rewarding. I managed HR systems for 78 countries. I landed a new role managing global talent projects. I met inspiring female leaders such as Indra Nooyi.
I also became a mother.
The same Senior VP is still a mentor and guide to me. I feel fortunate that he noticed the talent in me and dedicated himself to developing it."
- #TejalRaval is an HR Consultant and a board member of LadyDrinks. "The difference between a 'great' manager vs. a 'good' manager is that a great one can turn your weaknesses---- into strengths.
By nature, I am an introvert. I have anxiety about speaking in public. During my tenure at Unilever, I came in, I worked on my skills and just did my job. However, there was one HR Director, based in the UK, who was intent on changing this. Nicola Braden only met me once, but each time we had a development conversation, she truly listened to me. She heard me on the things I wanted to improve and she heard me on where I wanted to go.
She involved me in every project that she was part of, allowed me listen and observe, and add value where I could. With her guidance and support, I went on to present globally to other leaders in the company and be a part of and lead global projects. I built up my public speaking skills. I built up my confidence, and I built a good reputation with other leaders inside the company. The CEO of Unilever even recognized me.
Nicola had enough emotional intelligence as a leader to see the magic in me. She helped me see the magic in myself. I hope to lead by example for other female colleagues."
- #BhavnaSethi is a Delivery Executive at IBM, working in both blockchain and cloud technologies.
"I was a recently promoted to senior consultant at Capgemini. Until then I was the most junior person on the team and a fairly quiet presence whenever we were at a client engagement. I grew up in India. I moved by myself to Philadelphia to attend college and grad school. I was always conscious of my “unusual" name and my accent.
However, when assisting in building client presentations, I would add my technical two cents. The client CIO and deputy CIO noticed. As time passed, both asked me to elaborate more on my perspective. My input was finding its way into the overall program. Soon I was managing the implementation of new technology solutions. I had a seat at the table for strategic discussions and direction.
That experience was transformative.
I’m very grateful for what both execs saw in me. These ladies were my friends and my mentors. I not only contributed to the success of the program but I also found my voice. I presented at conferences (at one in Tokyo I got to introduce myself in Japanese!). Most recently, I was made CTO of a small shop called melaartisans.com. They enabled me to do what I love every day: work with disruptive cutting edge technology and be a woman in tech."
- Swati D. Doshi is the founder of Human Results.
“During my Freshman year at GW, I decided to change career paths. Lois Graff, the Dean of Undergraduate Programs for the School of Business, hired me to be the Junior Class Manager even though I was new to the Business School. She saw my hunger and genuine passion for Human Resources and wanted to cultivate my leadership skills.
She wrote letters of recommendation that led to my entry into the University’s Honors program and several scholarships. When Lois pushed me to chase “big ideas,” I landed a paid internship in HR at Bearing Point. That internship in term, allowed me to 'pay it forward' by placing classmates into roles who went on to become CTO's at some of the top companies today.
She encouraged me to solicit and secure Senator Bob Dole as a speaker for a program I created.
Twenty years later, the confidence Louis helped me cultivate then provided me with the courage to leave the certainty that comes from working at Google. I've now started my own coaching and HR consulting firm."
- Pooja Bavishi is founder and CEO of Malai Ice Creams, a line of Indian infused ice creams.
"As I was entering my last semester of business school, I was trying to figure out next steps. Nothing was really exciting me, and nothing was really calling my name.
I scheduled a meeting with one of my favorite professors. I was completely at a loss. He asked me what I saw myself doing: Did I see myself in marketing? Finance? Strategy? I wanted to do it all. His response was, “I was hoping you would say that.”
He encouraged me to start my own business as he knew I had a passion for making desserts. He convinced me that I could find the perfect concept, the timing was right, and that I could do this.
When I met him a few weeks later, I had him sample the first iterations of my ice creams. His reaction? It was so good that it made him want to dance! Without his encouragement and push, I am unsure if I would have taken the first steps. He saw the magic in me - beyond the concept and passion, but in my ability to do this."
- Loveleen Zoria is an associate at FordHarrison LLP. Her practice area is labor and employment law
"I faced alot of pressure and criticism in my first few months at the firm because I took on more work than I had time for and couldn't appropriately communicate my availability to the partners and senior associates in the firm. I was the youngest associate on staff and a woman of color.
I spoke to Phil about my challenges. He taught me how to speak up, communicate better, and ultimately navigate my work better. He gave me opportunities to appear in court, educated me through complex employment issues, and even gave me my first client project. I helped the client save $50,000 in settlement damages. THAT helped to build my confidence.
Eric built on Phil's efforts by helping me with my writing skills. He gave me analogies to help me better remember everything that he was telling me. He encouraged me to think outside the box and cultivate my inner entrepreneur when I'm thinking about different businesses.
Eric and Phil both took a chance on me and saw the potential. Today, I represent both women and the South Asian community at my firm. I am incredibly grateful to them for seeing the magic in me and always encouraging me to pursue my interests."
- Anu Bhat is the founder of The Rural Painter. "I began my career in Mumbai as Head of Public Relations with Zee TV, a premier Indian television channel. My boss, Digvijay Singh, saw the magic in me and began grooming me. He allowed me to conceptualize and implement PR campaigns, always giving guidance from the sidelines. He gave me the confidence and courage to handle Rupert Murdoch's itinerary when he visited India.
Year later, when I was travelling through Asia, I noticed the amazing artwork by local, talented artisans. I saw the magic in them and wanted to give them exposure to a Western patron. I wanted to see them support their families with their talents. That trip was the genesis of "The Rural Painter." Each time I return, I curate more pieces and empower these artists. My clients are eager to have access to these spiritual creations.
Now patrons are commissioning my artisans for bespoke work and I'm making it happen. It's complete validation of my work.