Women City


Deepali Bagati

The Journey: Early Days to How I Got Here
I was born and raised in India, and completed my Masters in Social Work from Delhi University before going to the US for a Ph.D. I was raised by a single/working mother who absolutely did not make any difference between me and my brother regarding what we could do/achieve. I think that set the tone for me early on she was an amazing role model and showed me what a level playing field was/is and how that is so critical in terms of confidence, self-esteem, opportunities and access. I currently reside in Mumbai with my husband, and two kids (Daughter 4.5 yrs and Son-3 years).

Insight of My Company and the Role I Play in it
I work for Catalyst a global research and advisory organization working toward expanding opportunities for women and business. We have offices in United States, Europe, Canada, and now in India where our membership of leading companies is fast growing. Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit membership organization expanding opportunities for women and business. We count as members more than 500 companies, firms, business schools, and associations from around the world, employing millions of women. Catalyst is the trusted resource for research, information, and advice about women at work. Catalyst annually honors exemplary organizational initiatives that promote womens advancement with the Catalyst Award. I joined Catalyst 7 years ago, in the NY office to lead studies on women leadership and advancement. About 2.5 years ago, I relocated to Mumbai, India, and have been involved in building and strengthening Catalyst India. We have released 3 knowledge products to date in India, held several roundtables and events, and are creating a community of experts to forge
innovative solutions for creating inclusive workplaces.

Decisions That Mattered
I believe the most important career decision I have made is to have a career! By that I mean, I have been mindful (and fortunate to have the support) about not derailing myself when the pull factors got intense (first child, second child, relocating continents) and opting out. Those 3-5 years were (and in some ways still are as my children are close in age and under 5) challenging, and there are days when I feel I should quit and be with my kids. I remind myself to remain focused, seek advice from mentors, and lean on family and friends. I do the same for other working women I know. Some of the others include being deliberate about having a long term view re my career. I have also learnt along the way to be deliberate about networking so I set myself a goal about 2-3 people that I would like to connect/introduce myself in a year (achievable and strategic).

My Vision as a Leader
This is a broad question, so I will limit my answer to the workplace. I would like a level playing field for women in the workplace an inclusive workplace, where women are valued and rewarded and sought after for their contributions. Past the gender stereotyping re what women can/cant do.

Resolving Challenges Faced as a Women
The biggest challenge a woman faces is subtle stereotyping without being given a chance you are pegged into a certain role/ability etc. It is very hard to break that mould, and on needs managers, mentors, and sponsors to help change and manage that perception. Being a solid performer, getting noticed, and being vocal are some way to get past that. One day at a time is what I tell myself and others.

Work - life Balance
There is no magical way to do this and strike some sort of a balance. Sometimes career wins and sometimes home wins, and I am comfortable with that. I also make sure there are 2-3 things that I am not going to compromise on when it comes to family, and rest you live with it. Same with work. That helps me not feel guilty and have and regrets. I also have a very supportive spouse and family,my career is a matter of pride for them.

Starting Over from Scratch, What I Would Like to do Differently
I would be more deliberate about networking and be more vocal/getting myself noticed when it matters strategically.

Women Leaders: Driving Force for Powering Business
Women are critical stakeholders in the economy -- both in India and globally -- as consumers, as employees and as shareholders. As business leaders, they bring diverse perspectives to the table that reflect the marketplace and these constituencies. Catalyst research has shown the correlation between women in leadership and strong financial performance. In three studies (of the Fortune 500 companies), we have found that, on average, companies with more women in their leadership (on boards and senior management) significantly outperform those with fewer women.

My Learning Along the Way
I am still learning as I take on new roles and challenges. Few lessons that stand across geographies and cultures 1) being authentic, and 2) being respectful of people/differences. I have also learnt to be more proactive about networking and asking/speaking up.

Couple of Years Down the Line
This is hard for me to answer given the mobility I have had. I see myself working/making a difference and hopefully impacting change. Also, as my kids grow up and their needs change, I see myself more involved in their learning and shaping them into global citizens.

An Accomplishment You are Most Proud of?
Starting Catalyst India! And the best part is that the opportunity got finalized when I was on maternity leave for my 2nd born that says a lot about the organization I work for and the sponsors I have at Catalyst.

For women in technology as well as in other industries: Be authentic, Be Vocal, and Be Confident. I often tell women and men that I mentor that it is only those 3-5 years in a womans life/career cycle when she feels the pull factors very strongly to opt out but if one can ride those out (with org support, family support, etc), it is very rewarding to stay on. To men, I also reiterate that they must be supportive as managers regarding these unique challenges faced by women, and create an inclusive team/workplace.

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