What would the world do without female leaders? We live in a different world now where women are running for President and are the CEOs’ of top multinational conglomerates, easily beating their male counterparts to it. Sarika Bhattacharyya and Ranjana Deopa were two highly career-oriented women in the banking sector before starting BD Foundation.
BD Foundation is a global think tank focusing on diversity and inclusion. It collaborates with institutions and leaders to create inclusive workplaces via consulting, mentoring and creating awareness. Recognised consecutively for three years as a Global Top 10 Diversity Consultant, BD Foundation has supported more than 100 corporates, sensitized and built awareness for more than 100,000 individuals across the globe. Its mentoring and leadership programs have impacted more than 10,000 women leaders and has been felicitated as the “Global Leadership in Mentoring” by Hillary Clinton and Vital Voices.
Who were the two power women before BD Foundation?
Sarika watched many of her female counterparts leave their corporate jobs and become financially dependent. She started recognizing the fact that the reality of things in the workplace needed to change. Women needed to have a voice which could be amplified if they were financially independent, as well as be able to move to top leadership positions in their companies. Ranjana always wanted to be an entrepreneur and explore the learnings of becoming one.
It was serendipity that Sarika and I had similar thoughts and we decided to team up to form BD Foundation. We have evolved over the years from the idea stage to the 7 years we have been around.”
Their biggest inspirations
Sarika came across many people who were stepping out of their comfort zones to create a more inclusive ecosystem. These included people working in tribal areas, preventing human trafficking while endangering their lives, champions voicing their opinions with conviction, and also people trying to do small things every day to make this world a better place. Sarika wanted to be a support system for all these champions and their work and amplify their voice. She wanted to bring out their best potential and be a meaningful contribution to their lives. This, she says, was her biggest inspiration.
Ranjana’s biggest inspiration was her family, especially her mother who always encouraged her to follow her passion. “We meet inspiring women and men as a part of our work and after meeting them, I always feel that there is more potential in us and the people around us which need to be ignited,” Ranjana says. She also says that her ideas come from engaging in conversations with different people and networking which confirm the existing gap whether it is in terms of skills, motivation, or mentoring and this helps bring new ideas and new verticals to their business.
Sarika’s family was a little concerned about her quitting her career in investment banking to start her own venture. It was confusing for them and they would even sometimes wonder what Sarika did for a living! But after seeing the kind of impact that Sarika’s work had and how it’s making a huge positive change in people’s lives, they couldn’t be happier. Her family has immensely supported her throughout her journey.
Ranjana’s family too has always been very supportive of her work and are extremely proud of her becoming the first entrepreneur in the family. They like the kind of work that she and her partner do – bringing in change for a more balanced workplace.
The future and foresight
Sarika and Ranjana are working on quite a few programs including a mentorship program for young women social entrepreneurs. They are also working on some technology scalable models of mentoring where women can seek and access mentors from anywhere in the world with diverse skills set.
These two female powerhouses are making the corporate jungle a better place for women everywhere with their bold and brave work. However, they offer some valuable words of advice to others looking to make a bold change in the world, just like them.
It’s a great ride but one needs to be ready for all the ups and downs. Tenacity and persistence are what will get you through the finish line. As they say, try fast, fail fast and then try again.”
For those who think entrepreneurship is going to be an easy ride, think again! You’re everything from peon to the CEO of your business, which will require round the clock attention, just like a baby.
Never become an entrepreneur thinking that you will have more free time or that you are your own boss – the truth is far from that.”