'Now I see more women speaking up'

'Now I see more women speaking up'

'Now I see more women speaking up'
It has been a year since the $490-million Manhattan Associates, a global solutions provider for supply chain leaders, started the ‘Women’s Initiative Network’ (WIN), with an aim to increase the representation of women in various leadership roles.

In an interaction with Deccan Herald’s Uma Kannan, senior VP and GM of Manhattan Associates India, Ushasri TS, talks about the initiative, Manhattan’s future plans, and women’s participation in technology. One of the early women leaders in the Indian IT industry, Usha has more than two-and-a-half decades of experience in various technology firms.

Are there more women in leadership roles? What is our country’s scenario when compared with the US?

If you take various reports, they all say that women-led companies are more capital efficient. Communication, cooperation and collaboration come naturally to women.

It is estimated that there are nearly 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the US, generating over $1.4 trillion in revenues and employing more than 7.8 million people. Women are extremely important as customers. Those who come to sell in organisations have to face women decision-makers.

Earlier it was not so and now they have to sell it to women. There was one Harvard Business Review article asking how many people use the same kind of selling in technology to both men and women. It was different as women think differently. The way they analyse the situation is different. They have to learn to pitch it to women. It is important to understand women who are decision-makers. Women are innovating, funding and this power of women has to be unleashed.

Around 45 per cent of American millionaires are women. There are many US centric data and if you take India, the number of women in the IT and ITeS sector is growing, with 35 per cent of women. Going forward, women in the economy are going to be powerful and when they reach this situation, they will also be politically powerful.

When was WIN started and what are its objectives?

We can’t make just sporadic efforts to make gender equivalent, we need continuous efforts. This WIN (Women’s Initiative Network) initiative was started last year and there are three people involved in it. Two from the US, and I am co-chairing it. We can’t take any measures unless we know what women want exactly.

So, we first started off with a survey from all our women employees. We wanted to know what makes sense for them and based on the feedback, we came up with this initiative.
In India, Manhattan has about 21 per cent of women employees. WIN aims to increase the representation of women in significant leadership roles and focus on the development of women in leadership and technology.

Our four pillars are — employee engagement, community and industry outreach, coaching, and mentoring and communication. We have core team members and we conduct regular meetings. We have also reached out to various companies to understand their programmes.

What kind of changes have you seen among women in this one year?

At first, we started off with women managers around the middle management level as they are confused and make compromises at this stage. Many women find it difficult to speak up during meetings. They need mentors and we conduct events throughout the year and we hold panel discussions on health and finance, among other areas.

Now, I could see more women speaking up. They are more involved and are looking at career growth and understanding where to go and what to do. We also recently initiated WeCode, to encourage women who code.

If you take a team of 10, there are only two women and they have to develop confidence in learning a new language. This is to encourage them and we want to bring women into focus.

Being one of the senior leaders, what are your plans for Manhattan Associates India?

Manhattan Associates is a global solutions provider for supply chain leaders in the retail, consumer, food and beverages, pharma, high-tech and manufacturing industries.

We span across various verticals. Manhattan Associates is the largest supplier of WMS (warehouse management systems) solutions in the world. Our customers are very well-known. Our revolutionary platform-based approach has helped companies like Walmart, Adidas, Tesco, Papa John, GUESS, Frito-Lay, and others. Our competitors are SAP and Oracle, among others.

Our services have grown 2.5 times more in the last five years. We work on all leading technologies and a significant amount of engineering of the products is done out of India. The R&D (research and development) presence in India account for 70 per cent of our global R&D talent. It started here with five people in just a little over 12 years ago and now has more than 1,100 people.

The innovation that is being driven out here is being deployed for most sophisticated firms. Also, India is the only development centre outside the US.

Do you think we have enough technical leaders?

Adding value through learning and innovation is very significant. Everybody has the potential and can innovate. Many leaders can come out successfully. I facilitate the ‘Global Career Paths’, where we select the top talent and send them for work in other regions.

So far, 100 people have gone from India to other regions and we encourage such talent so they get a global exposure and when they come back, they can make use of the learning.

In India, the focus is on people leadership and not on technical leadership. One of my visions is to see people growing in the technical ladder, and we should see more technical leaders in future.

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