Guest post by Ritu Ganguly, TechWomen Professional Mentor
My TechWomen journey started a decade ago. Sometimes my role has been that of a member of the applicant selection committee, and sometimes in the form of a Professional Mentor. Thanks to this program I have grown as a mentor and a leader, but even more so as a person.
Exchanging our worlds
While the program is contoured to benefit the Emerging Leaders and the countries they come from, I think it greatly enriches the lives of each and every person participating — however small their part may be. I call this “food for the soul.” Speaking of food, I remember hosting four Emerging Leaders I had not met before for dinner. During the dinner we laughed, shared, ate and danced. We talked about commonalities in multitasking, and about being a professional, homemaker, mother and breadwinner all at the same time. It made the world seem like a small place.
That evening, music bonded us as women as we danced to the tunes of an African song but with Indian, Middle Eastern and African steps. We were bonded by life by this experience; we are all connected by some basic values. If this is not personal growth, I do not know what is.
Getting inspired by women leaders
This program provides the ability to truly understand the realities of the world outside of this capsule we live in called Silicon Valley. As mentors work with Emerging Leaders, we start to appreciate challenges women face in other countries; some similar, and some less common in the west.
A common trait that stands out among Emerging Leaders is their courage, self confidence and a laser focus on their mission — they are simply unstoppable. One such story is of Immaculate from Cameroon, who attended a dinner I hosted at my home. She told us how her visa for U.S. travel was rejected multiple times, but she did not give up. The final time, she brought the bricks from her green construction project with her to make a case for her vision. She was not ready to hear “no,” as she believes that her vision of building a sustainable world is one that the future demands. Living in a country where she could have easily followed the norm to get married, have kids and stay at home, she has struggled to study, work and become an entrepreneur. Not building something to only profit, but something to make the world a better place. This teaches us a value system some of us have forgotten in this world. I salute her, and I salute TechWomen for encouraging and supporting women like her.
Ritu Ganguly is a global leader with 25+ years of software industry experience. Her passion for mentoring is visible by her participation in global programs such as TechWomen and Stanford University’s she++. She is a highly adaptive thought leader with a reputation for building effective teams, fixing organizational issues and managing change. Her motto is “spread the wealth of knowledge”. Her professional wealth is the folks she has nurtured, developed and grown. In return she asks every mentee to grow others.