Dr. Saundarya Rajesh holds a Doctorate in Women’s Workforce Participation, an MBA from Central University Pondicherry and is a gold medalist in English Literature from Madras University. In 2005, when Saundarya first embarked upon the idea of creating a community of women who had taken breaks in career, little did she know that it would be a game-changer for women’s careers in India. Her first brush with corporates who summarily rejected the CV’s of women on career breaks, taught her that the problem had to be approached differently. Saundarya did exactly that – she turned the challenge on its head and convinced corporates that women who had taken breaks were more likely to stay on the career track longer and were also a source of highly skilled personnel. The idea worked. Corporates that were hungry for good talent, decided to try out Saundarya’s suggestion - engaging “Returning” women professionals. The very first recorded instance of a ‘second career’ program in Indian industry, took place in July 2006, under the stewardship of Saundarya. Over 400 women re-entered the workplace for the first time. Realising that corporates needed a sustainable strategy to engage not just returning women professionals but all women in their workplace, Saundarya began coaching and counselling organizations to develop a Gender Inclusion plan. Using research and analytics, she proved the rupee-value that organizations would accrue if they invested in women’s careers. Not stopping with merely pitching this talent pool to companies, Saundarya went one step further and ensured that the women who got in touch with her also benefited out of the interaction. Creating an online platform called www.avtariwin.com in 2005, Saundarya developed a simple profiling method which helped the women assess their own employability and also their readiness to re-enter the workplace. She devised a Career-Enabler system that women could easily implement in their own homes and work-places that would prevent them from aborting their careers. Saundarya travels extensively speaking in various conferences and forums on the benefits and importance of engaging with women on career breaks. She has conceptualized and designed several programs and training interventions to bring women back into the workplace. One such program is SEGUE Sessions, India’s largest networking and career creation program for women returnees in India. More than 11 SEGUE Sessions events have so far been conducted in cities such as Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Pune and Jaipur, benefiting over 10,000 women. Turning the attention of every corporate recruiter to this pool of immense talent was achieved by Saundarya through the medium of SEGUE Sessions. A woman entrepreneur with a vision, Saundarya believes that women’s careers will be one of the foremost success factors contributing towards India’s development in the coming years. Her work has ensured that corporates, educational institutions, families and the women themselves are educated about the unique nature of women’s careers and the steps to be taken to engage women professionals, in order to deliver all-round benefit. For relentlessly championing the cause of career re-entry opportunities for women who have taken breaks after marriage, childbirth or relocation, and for her indefatigable focus on women’s workforce participation, Dr. Saundarya Rajesh was selected for as one of the #100 Women Achiever, an initiative by Government of India (Ministry of Women and Child Development) and met the Hon. President of India and the Minister for W&CD at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Delhi in January 2016.
Karthik Ekambaram having completed several seminal projects in this area for multiple organizations. An MBA with over 15 years of experience in business analysis, talent strategy and workforce diversity consulting, Karthik began his career in web designing and dot com. Karthik moved into HR consulting, later, specialising in Diversity and Inclusion as well as flexible working methods. As a strategist, who has devised flexible working policies and diversity-ready workplaces for several fortune 500 organizations, Karthik brings with him a rich experience of managing a wide range of requirements for creating a futuristic workplace. Managing Diversity recruitment and formulating second career programs are some of Karthik’s recent achievements. As one of India’s pioneering workers in the field of Second Career programs, Karthik has been a key architect in the re-entry of women into the workplace. He has worked on projects which utilize Diversity & Inclusion as a business driver for organizations by employing it as a talent, CSR and business strategy tools. He has carried out Job Analysis, Time and Motion studies at several client sites for the purpose of Flexidizing and Unbundling of jobs to create flexi-career tracks in organizations interested in implementing flexible working options for their employees. Karthik has worked on many research studies on Diversity & Inclusion, Second career women, Generations in the workforce, Flexible working and Work-life balance. He has also conducted Diversity & Inclusion audits for a number of organisations.