BW Businessworld

There Is No One Set Of Rules For Success

Naina Lal Kidwai, one of the most influential women in the business sector in India, talks about achieving a balance between personal and professional life

Naina Lal Kidwai is the chairman of Max Financial Services and a senior advisor Advent private equity. One of the most influential women in the business sector in India she talks to BW Businessworld this woman's day about milestones in her career, the pressure of carrying so many firsts and her perfect balance between her personal and professional life. Edited excerpts from her interview:

You are a woman of firsts in India. What sort of pressure does that tag come with?
No pressure to be honest because I don't get into something thinking it is a first, I go into it thinking that this is something that needs to be done. I feel glad to know that I can cast a new course. I believe it is more for standing up for what you believe and pushing to achieve what is really yours.

How do you view your contribution to the Indian finance and banking sector?
I believe I am small part of a very big ocean of big pieces that come together. My contributions at the beginning were that I was heading a large foreign bank in India, which opened up a lot of possibilities for me to bring into India the foreign investments, technologies and ideas from a global front. At the early stages by heading the capital market stages at FICCI, through heading the association of Merchant Bankers, which engaged with SEBI in order to establish the rules of the game in the country. A lot of the things that happened when we moved to demitting shares in India to the NSDC, the establishing of the National Stock Exchange to counter the Bombay Stock exchange, which was not working the way it should were very big steps for which I worked with a fabulous team to create the right financial architecture in India.

How have you been able to manage the balance between your personal and professional life? In doing so, do you get the "me time" we all look for?
It is always a balancing act for us, the women in India. There is not set of rules that one could follow to maintain the same. It is up to every woman how she finds hers. For me I didn't even think once to give up my work because I love my job, but nor did I ever make a compromise on my personal life. You have to learn to find your way through it. To be honest the "me time" suffers, but that is always something that you can pick up from anywhere any time.

Do you think the woman workforce in our country is being utilized to its maximum potential?
The opportunities are immense and it is really a function of what women really want to do. I have actually said no to a lot more opportunities than I have said yes to. There is work for experienced women, they just need to get out there and grab them. Creating forums and networks where women can learn, observe and chat would be ideal to get women find work post retirement.

What is your message for all the women, this Women's Day?
My main advice to all the women is that we all have to be our own glass ceilings. Always be 100% ready for a job they are willing to take up, because women are more under a magnifying glass when it comes to scrutiny. But that in no way means you have to be scared, use this to your advantage and deliver your best.

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