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  • Writer's pictureSharanya Rao

Celebrating 20 Inspiring Professional Women in My Community

This International Women's Day, I reflect on the blood, sweat, and tears it took for women to make strides into the world of work.

Professional women have had to work ridiculously hard to deal with unrealistic societal expectations and pressures, and make huge personal sacrifices in order to be taken seriously by their peers.

I realize that I need to look no further than my own network of friends and family who are leaders in their fields of academia, business, education, fashion, film, healthcare, media, non-profit, politics and technology. In fact, there were SO many inspiring women it was hard to pick a few.

Today, I want to honor the contributions of 20 amazing, inspiring women from my community who have smashed glass ceilings, one heel at a time. They led with purpose, clarity and courage. They have often been #thefirstthefewtheonly in their field, and the sole woman in a male-dominated boardroom. Their contributions have been invaluable and inspired the next generation of female change-makers. I celebrate their determination, hard work and impact. #breakthebias #womenupliftingwomen #impact #IWD #thefirstthefewtheonly

Oncologist, Former Associate Professor at Duke Cancer Institute and currently, Senior VP, Head of Clinical Development at PACT Pharma. She transitioned from practicing and academia to industry to move the needle for oncology patients.

Radiologist and Associate Chief Medical Officer, Recruitment at Radiology Partners

Director of Development @ Children At Risk, and 9th Indian Triathletge in the world to complete an Ironman.

Product Marketing Manager, Amplifiers, Cirrus Logic. An engineer and executive in a male-dominated industry who continues to push barriers in the tech world.

University Ombuds and Director, Office of the Ombuds, University of California - Irvine

Kalpana Dhareshwar

Early Childhood Educator of 30+yrs and Director of Mother’s Pet Kindergarten, bringing attention to the needs of preschool education in India.

Kavita Shastri

Educator, Teachers’ trainer and Former Lions Governor (the first woman to be elected Lions’ District Governor of Mangalore, India). She trains and empowers teachers who are the backbone of education in India.

Executive Director of International School of Design Mumbai, who is a self-made, self-taught entrepreneur whose resilience has inspired me over the years.

Chief Executive Officer of Chinmaya Mission, a global, spiritual, non-profit organization. She manages an organization with over 350 centers around the world.

Partner at Allen & Gledhill, Associate Director of Legal Aid Bureau. She was also a former associate professor at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law for 28 years.

Associate Professor, Copenhagen Business School; Founder & CEO, TalentED, and Co-Founder, Plantier.

MP for Maungakiekie. NZ Labour Party. Minister of the Crown, NZ. The first woman of Indian-Origin to Become a Minister in New Zealand.

Co-founder & Chief Marketing Officer, Wizly

Group CEO @ / Obama Leader APAC / Founder/ Investor

Dr. Saroj Rai, PhD, MPH,

Senior Scientific Advisor, Office of Chief State Epidemiologist, Texas Department of State Health Services. She and her team were responsible for reporting objective, scientific data for the Covid Task Force.

Managing Partner, Singapore at Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Partner/Principal at Ernst & Young | OME Lead for Americas TMT Sector

Smita Prakash

Veteran Journalist of over 30+ years, and Editor, ANI News.

Writer, Film Director, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University School of the Arts. She pursued her second career in Film, and won several awards for film, Anita, including the best film for her graduating class.

SVP of Product Management for the Next Generation Firewall Business at Palo Alto Networks.


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