81% Women believe the glass ceiling prevents their career growth and that women face more hurdles than men in the workplace, as per a poll by Naukri.

The good news is that 19% of women feel both men and women have the same career journey, indicating that things are improving for women in workplaces steadily and gradually.

After years of struggle, women are paving a path to success and proving their mettle with hard work and dedication.

These women are admirable and an inspiration for everyone, making them the leaders of today! So, on this International Women’s Day, we celebrate fierce and prominent women leaders who have overcome several hardships and left a mark in the corporate world.

In this article, we bring authentic career advice from 17 Indian Women leaders who shattered the glass ceiling, fought the odds, and hustled their way to success. Read on to hear from:

  1. Sumeet Singh, CMO, Naukri
  2. Madhavi Rao, Group Marketing Director, EMEAI at Cadence Design Systems
  3. Jalaja Menon,Executive Director of Operations, 3M’s Technology Centre of Excellence (3M TCOE)
  4. Tejal Goyani, Customer Programs & Qualifications, Applied Materials
  5. Kiran Chhabra, Executive Vice President, Engineering, Naukri
  6. Shruti Maheshwari, Senior Vice-President and Head, Social Media Content Studio, Info Edge
  7. Sailaja Devireddy, Senior Director Fund Marketing Services, Acuity Knowledge Partners
  8. Anuroopa Pereira, Director - Marketing Communications, Sabre India
  9. Roopa Raj, Vice President, Head of IT, APJ and Global Head of Engineering, SaaS Transformation at VMware
  10. Priya Narasimhan, Director, Finance Operations & Controls, Tesco Business Services
  11. Manasa Rajan, CEO, Jupiter Meta
  12. Col. Sanjula Verma – VP, Nursing Services, CARE Hospitals Group
  13. Shuchita Baranwal, Head of Design, Gameskraft
  14. Sita Subramanian, Chief of Staff to CEO, Cleartrip
  15. Ankita Sharma, VP, HR, Great Learning
  16. Ramya Parashar, COO, MiQ
  17. Samra Rahman, Head of People & Culture, Hero Vired
  18. Pallavi Vajinepalli, Principal Scientist and Group Leader at Philips Research Bangalore

Sumeet Singh, CMO, Naukri


"Some career advice for women professionals- you must negotiate for what you are worth. It is a general tendency in women not to do so.

Be confident! A lot of us face imposter syndrome and self-doubt in the workplace. Remember, you have the expertise and skills. Therefore, you are where you are.

Learn advocacy. It is perfectly fine to advocate for your ideas and opinions and embrace the unique perspectives that you get on the table.

If you have aspirations to lead, seek out opportunities. Build a network, be proactive, and remember you are the CEO of your own career. Don’t leave it to others!"

Madhavi Rao, Group Marketing Director, EMEAI at Cadence Design Systems


Credit: All Things Talent

"The start of your career is an exciting time of learning and exploring possibilities. You can invest in looking at different paths, succeeding or failing, and changing direction to pursue passions and interests.

I have two pieces of advice for early career professionals: First, say ‘yes’ to projects, even if you have to stretch. You never know where it can lead you; at the least, you will probably get a chance to learn something new.

Second, own your career. If you are not doing the kind of work you want, or are keen on a project or promotion, have an honest conversation with your manager about your career aspirations.

Taking charge of your career ensures that you achieve the career goals you have set for yourself. This advice has worked for me throughout my career, and I follow it even today, almost 30 years since my first job."

Jalaja Menon,Executive Director of Operations, 3M’s Technology Centre of Excellence (3M TCOE)


Credit: All Things Talent

"Women face many barriers such as stereotypes, discrimination, and lack of networking opportunities to name some, but successful female leaders of today however are closing the gender gap by defying these barriers with tenacity, resilience, empathy, and humility.

Embrace Challenges: One will likely face challenges throughout one’s career but you must recognize the fear and take on the challenge anyway.

Before you would know, you would have accomplished great things. Embracing challenges is the best way to learn and grow in one’s career.

Don’t be a perfectionist: It is important to take (timely) action with the available resources as opposed to being a perfectionist.

Perfection often leads to risk aversion and lost opportunities.

Careers are not linear: In my career journey of 28 years, I had the opportunity to take up several diverse roles, that have provided a well-rounded experience and served me well.

My learning is that careers are mostly non-linear. At each step, one must choose opportunities based on what one can learn from them, as a diverse set of experiences help build a rich career.

Seek mentors and good advice: It is important to seek help and experience insights early and often than being a student of the school of hard knocks.

One cannot emphasize enough the role of mentors who can guide one in reaching one’s goals.

Seek advice from people who have some experience with what you are working on and learn to ignore bad advice.

A career journey can be summarized with one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s quotes that reads, 'One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility. '.. and what makes us.”

Tejal Goyani, Customer Programs & Qualifications, Applied Materials


Credit: All Things Talent

"On International Women's Day, let us embrace equity and celebrate the remarkable achievements of women across the globe who continue to break barriers and pave the way for future generations.

Women embarking on a career in technology fields should believe in themselves and be assertive and individualistic.

Our unique perspectives and experiences are invaluable assets that can drive innovation and change in the tech industry and beyond. We should not be afraid to take risks, speak up and support fellow women to help them stand out in their endeavours.

Together, we can pave new paths and create a more inclusive and equitable world for all."

Kiran Chhabra, Executive Vice President, Engineering, Naukri


"There are always a lot of things you would like to do and be a part of. As a senior leader the most important thing is to prioritize.

Self: Your physical and mental health is very important and is your responsibility towards all those who depend on you or look up to you. So, make sure you invest in it.
Skill: It’s important to stay in touch with the industry and for that keep reading and learning.
Success: Celebrate your success. It’s a motivation for you and many others. If failures are a lesson, then success should be a milestone and a memory too."

Shruti Maheshwari, Senior Vice-President and Head, Social Media Content Studio, Info Edge


" Speak Up

In any team discussion, you could either be the bystander who is listening in and taking notes to then execute them later.

Or you could be the person who actively volunteers educated opinions and adds value to the discussion thereby practically co-creating the strategy which is then executed by the entire team.

People who do more of the latter are valued more by their leads and go on to have stronger growth trajectories in the workplace.

Also, do not willingly take a back seat if you know that you are capable of being in the front row.

Often, I've seen women opt for less challenging roles simply because it means stepping out of their comfort zone at a time when re they are required to be dealing with multiple fronts.

This most certainly costs them by leaps and folds later in their careers resulting in early plateauing or worse, a slowly chipping away at their self-esteem.

At some point in time, you are likely to be balancing multiple responsibilities, expectations, and stakeholders much more than your male counterparts.

For example, women are more likely to be shouldering a larger portion of household and familial care responsibilities as compared to their partners. This is the hard truth of India, although things are changing gradually.

It is critical to decide, how much of yourself you are going to give to all these competing stakeholders. It is okay to give just enough to get by on one front when another one is firing away.

For example, if you haven’t been what's in your mind, the definition of “the perfect mother”, to pull off something harder at work, don’t beat yourself over it.

Take risks
Take them early. The earlier you experiment, the faster the learning. This definitely does not mean jumping jobs every year, what it means is that if you must challenge the status quo to continue on a learning path, go ahead and do it.

Try to figure out how you can contribute to a situation, a business context, a team, or a project, and get cracking at it.

Propose new ways of doing things, conduct pilots, figure out mistakes, and share learnings with the team.

Demand support
I have had some smart, high-potential women in my team leave their jobs because their families demanded them to stay at home to take care of children, much against their wishes.

While we were ready to extend all kinds of support from the work front, unfortunately, this support was not forthcoming from the home front.

Instead of only volunteering support, women should actively demand support from their kith and kin to be able to create an ecosystem for themselves that enables them to deliver sustainably without having to burn both ends of the candle.

On the work front, they should demand learning and mentoring support from their colleagues and supervisors as well so that they are set up for success in the long run.

Banish self-doubt
Studies have shown that women tend to doubt their capabilities more even when they were perfectly equipped to do the job as compared to their male counterparts even when their male counterparts had those skillsets only in part.

Self-doubt has held women back from being more vocal in team meets, going ahead and volunteering for a more challenging project, and applying for a level position or a new vacancy.

I feel the way out of this one is to prep more to counter that nagging voice of doubt and then simply go ahead and do it without second-guessing oneself.

Another thing that helps is seeking more support from your friends and mentors. A gentle nudge and reassurance can go a long way.”

Sailaja Devireddy, Senior Director Fund Marketing Services, Acuity Knowledge Partners


Credit: All Things Talent

“To be successful in your career, start by building a strong foundation of skills in your chosen field. As you grow and take on new challenges, remember it is okay to fall sometimes.

Seek out guidance from mentors who have been in your shoes and can share their experiences and insights. Speak up when you have an idea or opinion, believe in yourself, and don’t be afraid of taking up challenging roles.

Leadership requires strong empathy and people management skills; these are intrinsic traits that many women possess.

While it is natural to seek recognition and validation from colleagues, clients, and stakeholders, it's important to stay true to your own goals and values, and to find joy and fulfillment in the work you do.

Equally, remember that leadership is not just about individual success, but also about lifting others up and creating opportunities for them to succeed.

We have the power to inspire and support the next generation of women leaders, and to create a positive change in our organizations and communities.”

Anuroopa Pereira, Director - Marketing Communications, Sabre India


Credit: All Things Talent

“I strongly believe that every woman has the potential to excel in their field when given the right opportunity.

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to meet, interact and learn from various leaders and this has enabled me with a certain leadership style.

I also believe networking and building connections across sectors is an additional asset.

If women want to be considered for senior roles, they need to move forward and do things that they would probably shy away from, such as networking, public speaking, providing a perspective on certain subject matters, authoring articles, speaking up etc.

One thought I’d like aspiring women to take away is that fear is the only limiting move that one can make professionally.

That's why, a certain amount of courage is required to challenge the status quo, speak truth to power, question the relevance of doing things in a certain way and nudge positive change.”

Roopa Raj, Vice President, Head of IT, APJ and Global Head of Engineering, SaaS Transformation at VMware


Credit: All Things Talent

“As a leader at VMware and one of the few global leaders based out of India, I am convinced that fostering a sense of belonging and creating an inclusive environment is crucial for women to succeed in the technology industry.

I value diversity of opinion and work towards creating an inclusive workplace where each employee can build on their strengths to spur innovation that will benefit our business and customers.

I have personally experienced the creativity and critical thinking that women in my team have brought forth. We should continue to make women aware of the key traits they have to succeed in the tech sector.

I often say that despite the obstacles and biases that we might encounter along the way, it is important for women to speak up and take part in open discussions.

With the right support, I am confident that women can lead the way toward a brighter future for all.

I have personally benefitted from mentorship and would advise most women to seek out mentors who can guide and inspire them.”

Priya Narasimhan, Director, Finance Operations & Controls, Tesco Business Services


Credit: All Things Talent

“My 4 go-to mantras’ to building a successful career:

Embrace your strengths
Find out early on in your career, what energises you in your role, what challenges you & brings out the best in you.

This not only helps identify your expertise but could also become your differentiator as you progress in your career.

You have a voice too
Voice your opinion even if you may be the only one. You never know who you may be inspiring in that moment.

Change is the best teacher
Contribute not just within your own area but pick opportunities outside your function. This tests your leadership skills, so be brave.

Build a network
Build team relationships, coaches & sponsors outside your function, or even externally with mentors and professional associations, it pays to have a good network that you can tap into for a fulfilling career.”

Manasa Rajan, CEO, Jupiter Meta


Credit: All Things Talent

Really embrace your Individuality
There is no ‘One’ path to success. Find your true passion and your belief system.

Move through your life and career with conviction in those and in alignment with it. This will be a true motivator and driver to success.

Take Risks
Confidence is as important as competence when it comes to succeeding. The ability to move beyond self-doubt, take a leap, have conviction in your point of view, break the rules when needed and be self-confident is important, especially in the context of being taught to be rule followers and sharing a disproportionate burden of responsibilities.

Be mindful of your Body Language
Women shrink their body’s postures to take less space, it is a deep-seated societal conditioning - to appear less intimidating, less of a threat, hide our bodies, and appear fragile.

Stand tall, chest open, shoulders stretched, take space with your gestures, and plant your feet firmly on the ground.

This physical shift will make you perceive more power and inspire internal confidence.”

Col. Sanjula Verma – VP, Nursing Services, CARE Hospitals Group


Credit: All Things Talent

"My advice to all aspiring women leaders is to always believe in themselves.

Never doubt your potential and always be sure of yourself and what you are doing. Women need to learn how to be confident with the position and knowledge they have earned.

Be open to taking risks, stop overthinking about the outcomes, and opinions, and take a leap of faith and act.

Speaking up is imperative, so don’t hold back your thoughts and ideas. Practice resilience as that will help you overcome stress and handle any crisis. All this comes with experience, constant learning, and skill development.

So, don’t restrict yourself - always push yourself to learn as much as possible by attending workshops, conferences, and panel discussions to gain new perspectives and ideas which you can implement and share at your workplace.

Build a healthy and competitive work environment where you empower yourself and those around you and establish trust in people that you work with.

Be mindful, give credit to the team, take criticism, have integrity, listen with the intent to understand, stay unbiased, and be disciplined.

· Learn how to prioritize yourself. It’s of utmost importance to look after your mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being.

Most importantly, work on the skills you need before you need them, which means you should act like a leader before you become one.”

Shuchita Baranwal, Head of Design, Gameskraft


Credit: All Things Talent

“Rise above “The Distraction of the Details”
Be Brave and start trying new things. You may encounter challenges and obstacles in your journey where it's important to believe in yourself and your abilities.

Instead of playing safe and seeking perfection in everything, take progressive steps, however tiny.

Slowly build an open approach in your outlook and adopt positive actions. It is important to understand that it's okay to be a beginner! Don't
expect to have all the answers and be ready to seek help early on.

You should always be ready to approach a challenge even if you feel you are not completely equipped for the same.

Define your purpose clearly and then make small nudges for bigger outcomes.

Remember as Gary Vaynerchuk said, “Without hustle, talent can only take you so far”. Be open to pivoting your strategy if something isn't working. Flexibility is important in any endeavor, as the path to success is rarely a straight line.

Change is the only constant in an ever-changing world where you can either design the system or get designed by it.

Develop emotional intelligence by working on self-awareness, empathy, self-motivation, and self-regulation.

If you understand your immediate needs and continue to focus on your path, other distractions will fade away.

It's important to focus on key competencies and move away from gender-coded traits. This can help level the playing field and create more opportunities for women to excel.

I believe constructive dialogue is crucial because that helps one identify and address real barriers.

By engaging in open and honest communication, we can gain a better understanding of challenges and opportunities, and work together to create more equitable and inclusive workplaces.”

Sita Subramanian, Chief of Staff to CEO, Cleartrip


Credit: All Things Talent

"There are a few things that have greatly worked for me in my corporate journey and I would like to share the same with other aspiring leaders:

The most important thing is consistency. For people in the organization to take notice of your work, one has to put in the same amount of effort, with diligence and high quality every single time and hence consistency in performance is critical.

Another important aspect is integrity. By being honest and dependable at work, you will gain the trust of your colleagues and the management and they will see you as a responsible and accountable professional.

When you take complete accountability for any task, it will inspire you and the others involved also to be absolutely productive and focus on delivering results.

One more aspect would be to take risks. When you try out a very different role/ stream of work or do a project outside of your comfort zone, it pushes you to learn and grow both as an individual and professional."

Ankita Sharma, VP, HR, Great Learning


Credit: All Things Talent

"The most important advice I can offer to young leaders is to always step out of your comfort zone and keep trying new things.

You might not be excellent at some of them, but all the experiences add up in the long run in becoming a well-rounded leader.

It's also important to build a trusted network of mentors and peers who share your interests.

Last but not at all the least, don't be afraid to ask for what you think you deserve and speak up if you feel you are not being treated equitably."

Ramya Parashar, COO, MiQ


Credit: All Things Talent

"Recent studies indicate that women excel in personality traits crucial for leadership, such as honesty, compassion, and creativity. Few surveys have shown that women outperform men in these qualities.

Despite this advantage, women still encounter significant obstacles to achieving leadership positions. According to Grant Thornton's Women in Business report, there has been an increase of only 31 to 32 percent of women in senior management positions.

India is beginning to address the gender imbalance in the workforce and leadership roles, and to achieve parity, we must acknowledge and support the unique challenges that women face.

This includes advocating for ourselves, building strong relationships, being resilient, seeking mentors and role models, and embracing diversity.

By taking risks, speaking up, and navigating their career paths, women can overcome these hurdles and develop a broad network to support their success.

Aspiring women leaders should know that speaking up and taking chances can create a significant impact and help create a more inclusive and equitable future where women have equal opportunities to succeed.”

Samra Rahman, Head of People & Culture, Hero Vired


Credit: All Things Talent

"As a diverse workforce leader, I believe women should set achievable goals and create steady milestones.

While it may be known that self-love is important, I would reiterate that all women should invest in their health.

In my experience, a combination of shorter goals and a self-appreciative attitude helps women become better at their work and added activities such as yoga and meditation provide long-term benefits in managing stress.

Additionally, women should continuously invest in upskilling themselves and embrace their natural leadership style without compromising their Emotional Quotient (EQ).

We can lead by example and empathy and we should leverage that to make a positive impact in the workplace."

Pallavi Vajinepalli, Principal Scientist and Group Leader at Philips Research Bangalore


"My advice to all women who want to be leaders of tomorrow is to have the zeal and dedication to turn challenges into opportunities.

I firmly believe women are bestowed with innate qualities of showing empathy, patiently and persistently nurturing and being unwaveringly passionate.

These qualities are much needed now across the world and in all walks of life. I am confident women who tap into these qualities will not only distinguish themselves but also create a positive influence around them."


We all have naysayers telling us how to live our personal and professional life, but the best way to grow in your career is to follow the industry pioneers.

In this article, we read career advice from prominent leaders who faced many challenges but overcame them to become leaders of today. We hope with this article, you will achieve a better perspective, direction, and a way to plan your career journey.

All the best

Women's Day Career Advice