What Mothers Want Conclave: All You Need To Know

Are you a mother looking to get back to work? Wondering how to go about it? Well, India's first ever 'What Mothers Want' Conclave, teaches you just that from experts and accomplished mothers!

By Team ParentCircle

What Mothers Want Conclave: All You Need To Know
“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had and dealing with fears you did not know existed.” – Linda Wooten, Author

Stay-at-home moms. Working moms. Work-from-home moms. Mompreneurs. So many labels, but at the end of it all, simply moms, whose little worlds revolve around their little ones. And most moms end up quitting their jobs once they have children – to focus on raising them, due to societal pressures or the inability to cope with running a house and working a job.

“When I made a decision to quit my job years back and be a stay-at-home mom to raise my daughter; to be honest I was unsure. I went to and fro on it; to and fro and to and fro. Then I just did it. I quit. It simply seemed right at that moment. I left behind a career I loved, an awesome team who were but awesome friends, a steady income, some bits of independence and I left behind a little part of me. But, if educated urban women quit and stayed at home, then what about the larger picture – our fight for girl’s rights to school? Especially in rural areas, why would parents even invest in their daughter’s education? These thoughts haunted me, and so I started taking up freelancing jigs, part-time jobs and even started my own business. I put my education and my skills to use and became financially independent. Eventually, when my daughter started full-day school, I resumed my full-time career. So, it’s possible, there is a ‘working’ life after having a baby. Do not let all those years of education, your aspirations and your talent go in vain. You just need the right connects and the right platform to restart. The opportunities are aplenty, and all you need to do is tap them.” – Deepthi Balasunder, who has literally been a stay-at-home mom, work-from-home mom, working mom and a mompreneur at different points of her life!

While many moms are happy raising children and being homemakers, which is well and good, there are those who miss their careers and look for more out of life. So, for moms who are eager to reignite their career but don’t know where to start, or unaware of the options and opportunities out there, or unable to find the right platform – conclaves like these are right for you.

In partnership with Madras Management Association (MMA), WSquare, India’s first co-working and incubation centre only for women, launched the first-ever ‘What mothers want’ conclave in India. An event that gathered and connected over 350 mompreneurs, mothers on a break and working moms. The event organised motivating chats and discussions with accomplished mothers who shared their success stories to inspire more mothers to get back to work. Afterall, real queens fix each other’s crowns. The MMA conclave looked to address ‘what mothers want’! The event was held on 6 September 2019, Friday, from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. at the MMA Management Centre.

The invite-only event stressed on the various angles of being financially independent through interactive workshops, masterclass sessions, storytelling, fire-side chats and panel discussions.

“Women who launched businesses routinely report that they have had to defy stereotypes and overcome others’ expectations of them; they also cited the lack of female role models in the business. Another undetected issue that women entrepreneurs are facing today, is the lack of resources and acceptance for mothers to balance both work and career and What Mothers Want Conclave reaches out to mothers at different phases in life to upskill and embrace technology,” says Vandhana, CEO & Co-Founder of Wsquare. Wsquare, a co-working space just for women, focuses on digital transformation for women entrepreneurs and creates opportunities and paths way for women in technology.

But is it easy to balance the best of both worlds – home and job? What does it take for new-age moms to work from home or start a business? Find out the challenges and the opportunities involved by those who’ve ‘been there, done that’!

“We believe that one woman can make a difference, but together we can rock the world,” says Jinal Patel, COO & Co-Founder of WSquare.

The event started on a warm note with around 300 to 350 mompreneurs, some aspiring college students and the media folk.

1. Keynote speech: The keynote speech was a defying one on the topic of ‘Mothers Who Need Independence, Inclusivity, Ideation and Inspiration’, and was given by Sriranjini Sundharam, TV host and VJ. She kickstarted the event with a powerful message on how mothers should not say no and learn to say ‘yes macha’ when they have an opportunity. She also briefed about what can be done to enable fathers to be a bigger part of the whole parenting process.

A nice point she brought about on how workplaces can be more accommodating to returning moms. In her words, “We do need workplaces which have a nursing room, a small play area where babies cannot fall down and get hurt. We need to start bringing in such initiatives to encourage mothers who are looking to re-enter the workplace.”

2. Panel discussion: After a power-packed keynote, a strong and inspiring panel discussion was conducted with different perspectives on the topic ‘Rise of Mompreneurs - The Vision | The Voyage | The Victory’. The panel constituted some eminent speakers such as:

  • Sumathi Srinivas, Founder, WeMagazine. India’s first bilingual business and lifestyle magazine exclusively for women.
  • Anupama Shivaraman, CEO, Shriram Leadership Academy, part of diversified business firm Shriram Group.
  • Dr.Chytra V Anand, Founder and CEO, Kosmoderma – Skin, Hair and Laser Clinic. She is an internationally renowned Cosmetic Dermatologist.
  • Anju Jayaram, Co-Founder Women's Web, a leading website for women with information on career development, entrepreneurship, parenting and managing work and life.

The panellists started with a short brief about themselves and their organisations. The whole panel discussion was carried out by Anju Jayaraman, who shot questions that revolved around mompreneurs and the varied challenges they face.

To start off with, the first exchange of thoughts was on how digital media helped mompreneurs? The panellists explained the various platforms that have helped them manage work efficiently from any corner of the world. Founder of Naturals – a chain of salons, Veena Kumaravel says “Most of my franchisees are owned by mothers, and I know how helpful digital platforms like WhatsApp and skype are, to monitor the workspace while at home handling the babies. They also have 24X7 access to CCTV cameras so that they can sit at home and have an eye on their staff.”

Dr.Chytra V Anand, Founder and CEO, Kosmoderma, has used various digital platforms completely to her advantage.“In my industry, doctors during maternity are unable to go to work, although they want to. Because there was this whole system they were used to. But now, with these digital platforms, they can sit at home and patients share their photos and consult them.”, she says.

In further discussions, they exchanged the different challenges they have faced as mompreneurs and also shared some tips for aspiring mompreneurs.

“Women are generally scared to voice their opinion. Have you ever seen men asking for directions? They will never ask even if they don’t know. But women do not voice it even if they know it.” says Anupama Shivaraman, CEO, Shriram Leadership Academy. “I think women should have the three C’s before they step into something. Clarity, Confidence and Commitment”, she adds.

Sumathi Srinivas had a more relatable way of inspiring women. She urged mothers to think of themselves as a batter that can either become idli or dosa. “If you sit at home and think only about yourself and your family you only become idli, but when you step out, you become a ‘spread’ of all the qualities and skills that can benefit a larger number of people,” she says.

The discussion also involved some advice for students who weren’t mothers or even married. Anupama Shivaraman, gave the best piece of advice, to marry the right man.

“If you aspire to be a working woman, the most important piece of advice I would give you is to marry the right man. It is not easy to know the right man, there is a lot of judgement and a lot of luck. Because you will need that support from your husband on days when you have meetings and your child is sick when you have to travel places and your baby needs you.” She further added that “I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of living in a joint family. I know living in a joint family has its pros and cons, but it is a big advantage for working moms”.

3. Masterclass session:

A digital session was held on Leveraging Digital Transformation to Become an Entrepreneur from Home, by Cuemath, the program for kids to enrich their mathematical skills, and Amazon, an eCommerce giant.

4. Fire-side chat:

After lunch, women in senior positions chatted and exchanged ideas. They spoke on the topic ‘Must Inclusivity Start from the Top? Technology, Diversity and Representation in Business & Life’.

Speakers:

  • Smitha Venkataraman, Vice President, HR & Head of Communications, AGS Health.
  • Tina Vinod Head, Diversity & Inclusivity India, ThoughtWorks.
  • Arundhati Swamy, Head, Parent Engagement Programs, ParentCircle.
  • Jayashree Venkataraman, CEO, Appreiz.

We had the pleasure of talking to Arundhati Swamy a day before the event and here is what she had to say.

“It is a huge and natural transition from being a woman to be a mother and to be a working mom. It’s all about understanding and supporting these mothers and create to a work-friendly environment to bring out the best in them.”

The panelists shared their experiences of coming back to work after their maternity break. “When I got back to work after an 8 year break my biggest challenge was to balance my home and work. It takes a lot of ability to adapt to situations and to learn how to prioritise. And trust me, priorities change one a daily basis. If today my child is not feeling well, that is my priority and tomorrow if I have an important meeting at work then that is my priority. The first step is to take the first step, to begin. Only then can you enjoy the experiences, the joys, the pleasures and the pressures.” says Arundhati Swamy.

It was wonderful to hear mothers making some realistic confessions like “Going by the standards of what society defines as a great mother, I am not a great mother. I have missed my children’s PTAs, I don’t cook the best food, I don’t know the lessons by heart before I teach my children, even on days of exams I travel quite a bit. But you know what? It’s okay! It’s okay not to be around all the time. Children grow to be a lot more resilient and stronger when they have working mothers” says Tina.

There were certainly a lot of tips and tricks for mothers who were looking to go back to work. Being a HR professional, Smitha Venkataraman said that mothers should think of how they can upskill themselves. One should be connected well with technology and know the latest trends in the technical world or whatever industry they are in. She also stated that “When you come back from a maternity break, don’t be apologetic for it. Because during the process you develop a lot of soft skills that no organisation can teach you. Things like time management, critical solution and maturity”.

Our very own parenting head, Arundhati Swamy says that the two major challenges new mothers face are in two levels, work and home. “Very often when a new mommy comes back to work, there is a lot of bias and judgement on her capability to work. At the family front, the biggest challenge is how to manage the home and responsibilities. How to build a support system at home with people who can take care of your child with you not around.”

This conclave was in sponsorship with CueMath, UrbanClap, ParentCircle, Kosmoderma, MMA and in partnership with McCormick. Our Partners include communities like FICCI FLO, Swayam, NASSCOM, Women's Web, SHEROES, All Ladies League, JobsforHer, EwIT, TiE Chennai. Also, our Gift Partner Bottled Bliss, Our Invite Partner Lettering Artz and Sweet tooth Partner Buttons Cupcakes.

“Successful mothers are not the ones that never struggled. They are the ones that never give up despite the struggles.”

About the author:

Written by Siddiqha Naseem on 28 August 2019.

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