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Hey, Woman! Cream Corporate Citadels!

KIRAN Majumdar, Gitanjali Kirloskar and Schuana; do the names whip up an urge in you to succeed? They are all women entrepreneurs who made it big in a man's world. Hey, girl, you sure have come a long way since the days of being a nurturer and a homemaker!

Indeed, women have come a long way. You have them all over the globe now; climbing mountains, spinning into space, fighting wars, flying planes... Apart from doing everything that is ordinary and that is expected of them, they are up to everything in this world, and that's least expected of them. They now play a significant role in the corporate jungle. So, what do you do if you are a woman executive, in a predominantly male corporation? How do you get accepted, respected and obeyed? Not that you are any less talented or capable, but as we said, it has been a male bastion for long and old habits do die-hard. After all, women have obtained key positions in corporate circles owing to their creativity, intuition and multi-tasking ability. What better qualifications do you need to lead a company! Unfortunately, the percentage of women who have reached the highest levels of the corporate world is not so encouraging; it's abysmally low. Men still hold most of the top executive positions in large corporations. The following suggestions should help you prove to yourself and others that you have what it takes to succeed in the corporate world:

Learn to compete in a man's world - men acquire the ability to work as a team at an early age through their involvement in sports. They savour success as part of a team and shake hands with their opponents when the game is over. Traditionally, women have not been encouraged to compete. You need to nurture this competitive spirit when you are part of a team

Foster ties with your peers and mentors - men often view their jobs as vehicles for advancement and look for opportunities to network with people who can help them succeed. On the other hand, women make friends more easily and often with less strategic purposes in mind. While a congenial personality and people skills are essential to maintain good working relationship with your peers, don't let personal friendships cloud your thoughts and actions. Seek a mentor who will teach and encourage you

Polish your communication skills - be open to differing opinions and don't be afraid to offer constructive feedback. Learn ways to get a point across without being overbearing. Learn how to present your case convincingly in meetings and always be prepared for questions and comments. The goal is to engage others for their ideas

Make yourself heard - but avoid being overly aggressive or hungry for attention. Listen carefully, ask questions and then express your ideas with enthusiasm in a confident manner. Be recognised for your hard work and creativity by documenting all your accomplishments with reports, graphs and memos

Dress the part - understand your corporate culture, follow the company dress code and use common sense. Modify your attire to fit the look of your workplace, while retaining your individual style. Always dress neatly and professionally. Appropriate attire lends you authority and credibility. What you wear says a lot about who you are and what you want to be!

Make time for both career and family - women are traditionally nurturers. They like to help others; and in doing so, tend to relegate their needs and desires to secondary position. Accept the demands and the need for sacrifices that a career places on your personal life. Realise that you cannot accomplish everything perfectly at work and at home. Set your priorities to suit your schedule. Time management is essential to balance a career and family life

Make a commitment to life-long learning - to have a successful career in corporate world, women should strive to be as educated as men. Women who aspire to a senior management position should focus on as much professional development as possible. Join professional organisations to develop your skills and keep pace with changes in your field. Get to know your industry and your company's competition

Put in the time - that is your biggest drawback! Don't be a clock-watcher; be ready to go that extra mile. Work additional hours, take on more projects and be available for special assignments. Be prepared to travel and attend conventions by yourself

Take risks - passivity will get you nowhere in business and certainly won't help advance your career. You must take risks to get ahead. Consider the benefits and the risks involved, and then act with conviction. It's okay to make mistakes as long as you learn and outgrow them

MALLIKA JAYASHEELA

faqs@cnkonline.com

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