International day for women is celebrated every year as we try to uplift women in all manners possible. But what happens after we make them learn the ways to live up to the patriarchy, social prejudice and framed injustice? What if they are faced with a new challenge in life for which they aren’t prepared? We refine the thoughts of women we empower, but it is bizzare to even think that society will do the same. The only lesson we could teach women now is to learn to take challenges which will eventually bring the change, just like UNDP’s International Women’s Day theme for 2021— Women in Leadership. #ChooseToChallenge
A manual on how to be successful as a woman may not be as helpful, but an inspiring success story of a woman who took up a challenge and built herself from the scratch might give other women a sense of worth for their dreams and inspiration to pursue their passion.
In an interview with News18, CEO and Founder of Stellar Search, Ms. Shailja Dutt spoke about her journey to establish her now global company 19 years back and how it changed her as a person. “The whole Stellar journey began as a single person operation out of a small office. I didn’t realise that my idealistic dream would become a larger than life reality and we would become a renowned leadership advisory firm across emerging markets globally. There are pivotable moments in life that completely change the way you are and how you feel about what you do.”
She said that it has been a journey of compassion, trust and forging everlasting relationships. “The journey has also been one of metamorphosis for me. From an insecure business owner to an arrogant know-it-all to ‘Servant Leadership’ has been a transformation I am very proud of.”
Shailja, as an independent woman, thinks her gender has only enhanced her leadership and has never restricted her work and caliber. “A good leader motivates, inspires, collaborates, listens and most importantly believes in inclusion at all levels,” she said.
When asked about her views on regressive attitude that the society has for a woman, she said, “I feel in terms of gender equality, we often take two steps forward and then one step back. But even that allows me to believe that we are moving ahead, albeit more slowly than what I would desire.”
She shared her mantra to deal with patriarchy. “My way to deal with patriarchy is through constant positive reinforcement. Let your actions drive the outcomes you seek. All it takes is for one woman to stand and support another. Empowered women empower women.”
Shailja believes that ‘Top of the Career’ is a very relative term and she is determined to walk as far as she can. Inspired from Robert Frost’s famous line from one of his poems, “Woods are lovely dark and deep, I have miles to go before I sleep”. Five years down the line, she sees herself as a mentor to her business and becoming a life coach, especially to young women.
Her days of success are definitely result of unseen struggle as she shares how she is a firm believer in finding her ‘Why’ first and then looking for ‘How’. She wanted to change lives of people for better. Helping companies find leaders who would in turn inspire and change lives of millions fit in with her larger purpose.
“Of course, you face restrictive behaviors at all stages of life and often one could face gender bias. I have always faced such challenges with courage, conviction, and focus. I believe that outcomes must drive our behavior rather than behaviors determining our outcomes. One should always believe in their vision, be authentic and be proud of what makes them unique,” she said in a message for young women.