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More power to women

An all women’s managing committee heading the association of company secretaries in Goa deserves applause, reports SHOMA PATNAIK

Women power went up a notch recently with an all-women managing committee heading the local chapter of Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI). There are various committees at the helm of numerous organisations in Goa. Association of engineers, restaurant owners, bank employees, lawyers, personnel managers, chartered accountants, salon and spa owners, GCCI, CII, small industries, etc, the list is extensive.

Most of them have fair representation of women in the organisation committee. But the Institute of Company Secretaries association is the only one with all-women committee in charge of affairs. Company secretaries are important professionals in the corporate world. The profession although vital is tad sedate. So it is good to know that they are extremely forward looking in thought and are ok being led by ladies.

The eight, all-women members of the managing committee are an interesting bunch in the age group of 30-35 years. Extremely grounded and from regular middle class families, they are interesting to meet for women empowerment views. None of them carry the baggage of gender discrimination of older generation and say that being women is on par with male colleagues and no hurdle to getting ahead in professional life.

Being a part of an all-women’s team is a great feeling and something that gets all members talking. Women, says Urjita Damle, chairperson, are naturally competent and therefore they are going to be of great help in vitalizing and adding a touch of dynamism to the local association. It is an opinion seconded by Teja Gadekar, member, who adds that as better planners they are going to be of use in organizing seminars and interactions.

Manisha Naik, member, says that it is “proud feeling” being a part of the first women committee and she hopes that “it registers somewhere among aspiring women in the state.”

All the members are successful at work with some practicing in own firms and the rest working in companies. Chairperson Damle is a company secretary with SmartLink, Verna, while Girja Nagvekar, Shweta Kharangate, and Shipla Dhulapkar run their own firms.

Teja Gadekar is the company secretary at Geno Pharmaceutical, Tivim; Manisha Naik is at  Putzmeister, Verna; Pratika Desai is at Sandu Pharmaceticals, Pilerne and Beena Mahambrey is the company secretary at Dempo Industries.

Being a company secretary is exciting in today’s times according to them because of changes in law and complexities in interpretation. Corporations have to adhere to the new Company Act 2013 which means that they are constantly on toes on overseeing compliance.

A company secretary, says Damle, is a well-paid professional and they are on the board of directors of companies. Being a woman makes no difference and ladies shoulder equal responsibilities with men at work, she says.

Employees, points out Naik, do not really differentiate between genders and all they look at is the competence of the worker. At least in the company secretary profession, women are shoulder-to-shoulder with men and therefore equal in all ways. In Goa, she adds, girls are pretty much in the forefront in education and other ways, although pockets exist where they could be pushed higher.

Women in Goa, says Nagvekar, need to aim higher and should aggressively go in for higher studies and climb up the corporate ladder.

Meanwhile, the all-women committee has been busy since taking over early this year. The local association was getting a bit dormant and the new members have already injected vitality. Two seminars have been held with visiting experts from outside. Further, a major all-India event is on the way with the ‘National seminar on Secretarial Audit’ on April 30th in Panaji.

Women are enrolling in large numbers in most higher education courses in India and the company secretary course in seeing more girls than boys taking the examination, they point out. The course is a tough one of average two and half year duration.

Job opportunities for company secretaries in Goa has been curtailed due to the fact that several units are MSMEs and head offices of large companies are outside. However, doing private practice is equally exciting and offers good scope, says Kharangate. With a small daughter and responsibilities of running a home, she finds her professional life challenging, but adds that running a firm has the advantages of flexibility together with variety.

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