This is a speech I delivered in my Toastmasters a while back, pretending the audience to be my fellow alumni and students from my alma mater.
In 1978, a family of three arrived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with 700 dollars to their names, and all their possessions in two suitcases. They knew one woman in the city, the one friend they had made in India when she was passing through and needed a place to rest in-between flights. Now they were relying on her to put them up for a night or two while they found housing. You could say they were naïve, you could call them foolhardy, but they had aspirations. The man was going to do his higher studies, and the woman and the one-and-a-half-year-old daughter tagged along.
“Sometimes the people whom we’ve know for only a short amount of time have a bigger impact on us than those we’ve known forever.” – Maya Angelou
I have known Prof. Natarajan only since the end of May 2020. He had just been appointed the Dean of the College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG) earlier that month. The CEG alumni had compiled the results of a student survey and wanted his permission to share it with the students and alumni.
When I answered a leadership questionnaire to determine what my primary leadership style is, I was not surprised by the discovery. The result said my leadership style is Coaching. This is good because I currently do a lot of coaching and mentoring. But I am also very much aware that leadership style is highly situational. How many of you are aware of the theory of Situational Leadership?
Bharathy Bhaskar is a household name in Tamil Nadu. Her motivational talks draw thousands, and her YouTube videos are seen by millions. She is a celebrity and needs no introduction. Why would she agree to a webinar to inspire the students of an engineering college in Chennai? Therein lie some great leadership lessons – a lesson in modesty, a lesson in compassion, and a lesson in the spirit of giving back.
I had the opportunity to talk about Roots and Wings with Hari, my fellow alum from College of Engineering, Guindy. I am thrilled to have four of the women from Roots and Wings provide their takes on what it meant to them to study engineering. Thank you, Nalini, Radha, Kalpa, and Indira! You can click on specific links (in the video description) to hear them talk.
Recently I was invited to give a talk on Women’s Empowerment at the San Francisco Tamil Manram. This article is based on the webinar I delivered in Tamil. One of my mentees who is currently doing her engineering undergraduate was surprised by some of the challenges I mention. That comes from belonging to the privileged class of women. Keep in mind that when I talk about women, I am talking about all women in the world and my frame of reference is the Indian culture. Challenges unique to women in technical professions are also discussed.
Seetha Lakshmi graduated in 1972 from the College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG), with a degree in electronics and communication engineering. She went on to get a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Texas, Austin (the first woman Ph.D. from CEG!).