Ranjini Manian’s vision is clear: to bridge the workforce gender gap in India and pave the way for women to achieve successful careers, ultimately creating a self-empowered female workforce in the country. Before embarking on her current journey, Dr. Manian was the visionary mind behind Global Adjustments, a premier provider of relocation and cross-cultural services. Her distinguished presence and expertise have extended to the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board, where she has made a significant impact on a global scale.
In an exclusive interview with JFW, she tells us about her journey and the pillars of ChampionWoman sessions.
How did ChampionWoman start? What was the inspiration behind the non-profit?
ChampionWoman started because I realised that there was a need for women like me not to give up and hold onto their dreams and change their aspirations into achievements. When I looked back and saw what all happened to me in every decade of my life, I realised that even after a very good education, and a good choice of a life partner, I could have given up everything and not have achieved what I have if I hadn’t set goals and gone after them. So ChampionWoman is there so that women in India can be career-intentional and contribute beyond their homes in whatever way they can. Financial independence empowers women and I hope many women take to this as well. When I used to run a business called Global Adjustments, I worked with many multinational companies and they would all want women in their teams. But either the Indian women’s resumes were lacking or even if the women joined the companies, they would leave their career if they were getting married or were having children and not return to it. So it was extremely important to work to bridge the gender gap in the workforce and that’s why I started ChampionWoman as a non-profit hoping that we can build a good curriculum that helps a woman transform from within.
How was it received by the people, mainly the women?
The idea of ChampionWoman has been welcomed from day 1, we have been running it for 7 years now whether it is in colleges, where girls are making the decision of studying further or choosing a life partner, or whether it’s in corporate where women are in the entry-level or mid-level or even senior level, they have a resonated with it. There are things which are not being discussed at home or educational institutions but we give it a platform to discuss it. Women don’t need much except a little trigger to go forward in life and since our programs are very interactive, practical and fun, but also life-enhancing. We teach women to have mindful leadership qualities. When a woman learns to be calm, confident and cheerful, she can thrive both at home and at work.
What are the key points covered during the ChampionWoman session?
The topics that are covered in the ChampionWoman sessions fall under three main pillars – Self Esteem Building: You have to constantly make sure that your self-worth is high, and you’ve to act confident and contribute confidently. We cover various topics like The power of saying NO, The power of asking questions, How to seek support, How to bust the Superwoman Syndrome and instead of trying to do it all, how to choose the things you’re good at. The second pillar is Gender Smart Relations, in this, we talk about gender intelligence. Since I served on the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University, I learnt much of the neuroscience that they had taught. It’s about how you seek support at home and instead of being male-dominated by father, brother, husband and then the son, how you inclusively build a mindset with them to show you have certain passions and dreams to follow. We have a very good program within this pillar about how you get rid of blind spots. The third pillar is work-life integration, balancing both is the goal of ChampionWoman. We never say that you need to let go of your family life or happiness at home to boost your career, and neither should you be giving up your career when there is a life-changing conflict at home.
A story that’s a testament to how ChampionWoman builds you up.
Let me share the story of a northeastern girl, who’s become an entrepreneur after attending our sessions. We encourage women to become entrepreneurs because we believe that they can do their best. She has set up a school and has a wonderful drive to be able to deliver high-quality education in Nagaland. Yisanbeni says,” The training is the perfect balance between informative and interactive. It was just what I needed to boost my mindset and my work approach.”
Every single woman who lifts herself with her willpower and marches ahead, if we play a small catalyst in their joinery, we are extremely delighted.
Advice for the women of today.
A piece of advice for the women and girls out there, from my life would be to permit yourself to be imperfect. You don’t have to be perfect in everything. The truth is that we can’t keep everyone around us happy all the time. Drop the guilt, pick up the important relationship and keep going. Work on your passion and skill and develop it and focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Another piece of advice that I’d like to give is whatever you are is a result of what you have thought. If you think you can do something, you will do it. It’s a question of keeping your mind and the thought process under your control. So put that effort into self-care and raise your self-awareness and you will be able to achieve amazing things.
Family members, societies, communities and friends can help by believing in them, trusting them and giving them opportunities to flourish. That’s all a woman needs, give her the opportunities because she is capable of doing everything on her own.
What’s next for ChampionWoman?
The next goal or mission for ChampionWoman is to reach 1 million women, we have reached 500,000 and we are working hard to expand the network and run our programs far and wide. We have wonderful trainers alongside and we are now working with 100-plus colleges across the state of Tamil Nadu. Even virtually, the sessions are very effective. Our next goal is to reach many more corporates, many more groups and many women.