Women Leaders

Women Leaders

Women & The World

Ankurita Pathak, Joint Director FICCI

Ankurita Pathak is a writer, occasional poet, TEDx speaker, a certified Life Coach& Trainer and a seasoned communications professional with 16 years of experience. A former journalist, she is currently working with
FICCI as Joint Director. A proud alumna of Cotton College, Guwahati, she is also a postgraduate in English from Delhi University.
Born in a quaint little town called Golaghat in Assam, her tryst with writing began as a 11-year-old, when her first poetry was published in the Northeast times. She has been regularly writing articles, poems,travelogues and short stories for newspapers, magazines, portals, and blogs. She, along with her brother has recently co-authored a coffee table book titled “Black Coffee & Metamorphosis”, which has been listed in the 10+ Hoppingo curated coffee table books alongside ‘Masterpieces of Indian Art by Alka Pandey’ and ‘National Geographic Rarely Seen’. She has co-
authored several books – Concerns & Voices, Dafodils, Pristine Scars, Dreams, GLOmag, to name a few.
A TEDx speaker, she has also been invited as an anchor, moderator, and keynote speaker by various organizations. Ankurita is also an Indian Achievers Forum Awardee.  She has also received special recognition for External PR from Toastmasters International and Leadership Excellence Award by KSLC.
A travel enthusiast and a perennial explorer, she loves food, fashion, people, and poetry. A momo lover and a coffee addict, she is a sucker for South Indian masala flicks and Korean dramas.
“Perfection is an Illusion, Striving for Progress in Life”- is her motto in life

A conversation with Ankurita Pathak

Rajni Vohra: Diversity brings an array of richness of experience along with it. Did you find being a polymath help you navigating through your professional path especially through challenging times?

Ankurita Pathak :Well, polymath is a heavy word! I am no polymath. I am just a perennial learner with a quest to learn new things. (Albeit it comes along with a roller coaster ride of procrastination and self-motivation!!! ��)
As I talk of learning, what American author Brian Herbert has said seems quite apt. “The capacity to learn is a gift. To learn is a skill. The willingness to learn is a choice.” Given the fluid nature of the times we are living in, almost everything is in a state of constant change. To cope up with the fast-paced world, we need to consciously make a choice to keep learning and updating our skill sets.
I feel it enriches our lives, both personally and professionally. It doesn’t necessarily be academic learning only. One can learn from people, experiences, and life in itself. We just need to create time and space to absorb and reflect on the lessons that life is bringing.
Professionally speaking, diversity in terms of what you are learning makes you open to changes and helps in adapting to different situations effectively. Challenges are inevitable but what matters is the way we
deal with them. With diverse knowledge and skill set, it makes you a more confident professional.

It is important that we invest in learning and self-development as it just doesn’t help us stay ahead of the curve but also aids in maintaining relevance in the industry.

Sometimes, it could also be beneficial to spend some time learning things beyond our chosen specialism. No learning goes waste, I feel. For me, it is also a feel-good factor that there is something new being added to life, improving it bit by bit and day by day. It is like a self-initiated form personal growth. Especially during the pandemic-stricken world, I have witnessed that it contributes a lot to your emotional, psychological, physical, and social well-being. It also keeps you away from the rigmarole of mundanity and boredom. It is, however, never enough! There is so much more to be, to do and to learn. Every turn in life could come with a new twist, a new challenge, a new demand. Like you say, one should never stop learning as life never stops teaching. I feel it is important to acknowledge the small, incremental steps that you take for your own betterment. It is definitely a race in the fast-moving world but most importantly, it is a race with oneself- moving from where we were to where we could be, even if it is a little everyday.

Rajni Vohra: The debate of having women in various leadership roles has become more pertinent & critical now than possibly ever before as we still don’t see enough representation of
women leaders in every domain, every sphere even in 21st century. How do you reflect on it?

Ankurita Pathak: It is a clear-cut case of lost opportunities, lost possibilities, and lost potential, when half of the demography is not at par with the other half. This is a time when we are witnessing how women
leaders transforming the world – in communities, businesses, and political positions. Women are clearly
redefining outdated ideas of what it means to be an effective leader. I would say that things are changing for the better in terms of gender equality, but we are still a long way from what it
should have been vis-à-vis where we are now. There are several factors in play that leads to the existing gender gap. From unconscious biases to stereotyping, discriminating mindsets to unfavorable systemic frameworks, unequal pay to lack of mentors, family responsibilities to unrealistic expectations, the list is endless. To add to all these, the COVID 19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women across the world, losing an estimated $800 billion globally in financial earnings, according to a Forbes report. It will not be wrong to say that whatever we had achieved in terms of gender equality has not just been stalled but has been reversed to a great extent.

In this time, it is more relevant than ever that more and more women are placed in leadership roles. Diversity of thought and experience will definitely pave way for better, more profitable, more sustainable, and more effective organisations.
From the leadership roles, with positions of influence, power and authority, women will be able to build a more inclusive and supportive world, be inspirational role models and pave the way for future generations to forge pathways for a fair, just and equitable world. This reminds me of what Melinda Gates rightly points out, “women are not just victims of a broken world; they can be architects of a better one.”

Rajni Vohra: You have been sort of a proponent in promoting financial literacy for women. Let’s know more about your endeavours in this direction?

Ankurita Pathak: COVID 19 has taught us several things. And one of the most crucial lessons that it has taught us is the importance of financial literacy. With the vulnerability and uncertainty looming large, we very well understood that lack of financial planning intensifies the challenges.
In general, too, managing money in the midst of life’s other priorities is no easy task, especially for women. Personally speaking, it seems one specific area which seems truly overwhelming, intimidating, and daunting.
While I am well aware of the importance of financial literacy, I have always avoided understanding the nuances or perhaps controlling financial matters, most often depending on parents and then the husband to take care of it.

It is not that I do not have the capacity to take matters in hand but its just seems to take a back seat amongst the other priorities in life.
This is mostly because since my childhood, this was never a life skill that I was keen on learning. Looking back, I realise that there was no concerted effort to include financial literacy as a part of our educational
curriculum or as a part of our growing up process. Children are now growing up in an increasingly complex
world where they eventually need to take charge of their own financial future. They should know how to make wise financial decisions to live financially secure lives and for their overall well being too.
I can see that this need is now gaining the attention of parents, the community, organisations and by some
children as well.

Recently, I came across a SKILLEDWISE, an Edtech firm that has taken up the onus of spreading knowledge and awareness on the importance of financial literacy especially for kids and at the same time, designing
customised curriculum for children of various age to teach the nuances of “Money Matter.” I regularly interact with the brains behind this endeavour- a highly motivated group of professional bankers, accountants, investment managers and entrepreneurs, and there is so much to learn from them. They have been doing commendable work in this direction, a cause that I strongly believe in.

Rajni Vohra: Life has taught you…

Ankurita Pathak: Life has been the biggest teacher for me. There are innumerable learnings that I have imbibed from life.
The biggest lesson from life is humility. We are just a small speck in this entire cosmos and the sooner we realise this, the easier our lives become. I have also learnt to believe in progression over perfection.
Like Salvador Dali had said “Have no fear of perfection–you’ll never reach it.”
One more thing that I would like to highlight is that we have been often told that life is a race and if we don’t run, we will be trampled and lost eventually. I agree that life is a race, but it is a race with yourself and not others. The key is to work on becoming a better version of oneself rather than trying to become someone else or mindlessly comparing with others. A pandemic induced key learning is to focus on mental
and physical health. We have learnt it the hard way but there is no second thought to the importance of these two aspects of life. Last but not the least, make work life balance an integral part of your life. Setting the right boundaries is important. You can be replaced in your workplace, but you cannot
replace yourself in your life!

Rajni Vohra: Thank you for talking to us!

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