It has been a while since I wrote. Last week I was at the Annual Women Presidents Organization annual conference and was once again blown away at the energy this conference generates in its members.
I met people from at least 8 countries and shared experiences, let some random cartoonist do a caricature of me, threw on some silly accessories and posed with Ed and Juli Betwee, our Chapter Chair, and even danced.
There were some great key note addresses:
Three excellent key note speakers: I particularly liked Shawn Achor on the Happiness Advantage and the youngest keynote speaker Maya Penn. It is worth a listen:
The Engagement Economy: Jane McGonigal from game and research development for Institute of the Future.
Members of our family have started a project to erect a school building in the village of Pennathur (known as Kilpennathur) in South India. Presently the classes are being held under trees in mostly blazing hot weather.
Many children bicycle 10 to 20 miles to get to school! The government provides the students with uniforms and a midday meal. We were told that roughly a third of graduates go to college and a third get jobs.
My cousin Ramesh Sekar has been spearheading this effort with help from my sister Usha Krish. I am glad we were able to raise money to make this important work possible!
The building started early this year
I was heartened to note that the roof went up this week! Hooray…
It has been an amazing journey to come to Abu Dhabi. We landed on August 19th night in Dubai and were whisked away on the 20th at 9 am to Abu Dhabi by Author and Columnist Pranay Gupte, http://www.pranaygupte.com, for an audience with His Highness Sheikh Nahyan.
We got to Abu Dhabi around 11.15 am and were met by His Royal Highness’s secretary, who else but “Mohammad”. Got seated at 11.30 and I was given the seat of honor to the right of His Highness Sheikh Nahyan.
I expected to spend 20 minutes with His Highness and ended up talking with him for over 3.5 hours! As it turned out there were 40 people in the room whom he had to see and other than greeting them officially, he spent the whole time discussing issues with me. I was blown away. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome, but Pranay kept telling me to hang in there as long as he didn’t finish with me, and I did!
I had understood that lunch was planned to be “Ladies Only”, with Her Highness and her three daughters (Sheikhas). Plans changed unexpectedly. Instead, after prayers attended by the male invitees, I was invited to enter the banquet room and was again seated next to HH Sheikh Nahyan. I was a bit taken aback when I realized I was the only female in the room. He personally filled my plate and asked that they bring a “vegetarian” plate for him as well.
During the lunch I listened attentively to everything – how the Cleveland Clinic had set up a major hospital in Abu Dhabi in 90 days and performed the first heart transplant, then about how they hoped to have a lot more women in administrative ranks in the Government and where they were heading with the plans for the future. India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Modi had just been there the prior weekend to address an audience of over 30,000 people. I listened as HH talked fondly of that meeting and welcomed me as both an Indian and as an American!
When it was my turn to talk, I asked if he would like me to send a proposal on further enhancing women’s status in UAE and how I entered the entrepreneurial ranks, balancing the two very diverse cultures of East and West. He asked me to send the proposal to him and he would personally look into getting it to the right source.
After lunch we all went back to the main hall where he held court. I was seated to his right and my husband Edward Messerly sat next to me. Tea of different flavors and coffee were served. He had the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic of Dubai on the other side of him and a Bollywood actor called Vikram Singh sat next to Edward. I proudly introduced the subject of WPO, its accomplishment and how enabling it has been in my growth internationally.
The 24th Annual Women’s Business Leadership Conference was full of advice on, among other things, finding one’s passion, the importance of being willing to change and the importance of listening to other people’s points of view. (READ MORE)