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Women leaders transforming the workplaces

Annu Ralli recalls what one year at Ashoka University has been like—from the distinct interview process to working with women leaders

Annu Ralli

2 December, 2022 | 4m read

As I recall my interview and hiring process at Ashoka University, I remember thinking about one distinction that I had found lacking in my previous organisation—women in managerial and leadership roles. At Ashoka, my interview process began with a panel consisting of a majority of dynamic women. I was interviewed by another woman in HR and am currently working under the leadership of another inspiring woman leader!

Growing up in a household headed by a woman, my grandmother, I have always known this to be true that women can be great leaders. This is not because of the widespread belief that they display sensitivity and bestow pastoral care but because of their courage, logical prowess, emotional maturity and incredible ability to make decisions they almost never regret. My house is still majority of women and I would not like to have it otherwise. 

Coming to Ashoka University and having spent close to a year here now, this conviction has only grown stronger and gets imbibed in this workplace, day and again. It is indeed a proud feeling to realise that the first floor of the Administrative Block at the University has 100 per cent departments headed by some phenomenal women – as Deans, Senior Directors and Directors.

I would often hear from friends and acquaintances how they thought it was difficult to work with a woman leader. They would often jeer about their female boss having moods if they had been pulled up because of lousy work. However, my experience has mostly been otherwise. I believe a woman in leadership can be a game changer in terms of their holistic approach towards work, empathetic outlook towards their team, and capability to display emotional maturity and strength while facing challenging situations.

It is rare to observe a Dean of Student Affairs sit with junior colleagues and share her vulnerabilities. She says, “Vulnerability and Authenticity lie at the root of human connection,  and human connection is often dramatically missing from workplaces.” As a result of this exercise, we all understand each other’s challenges, weak points and strengths, making us a well-bonded, super-efficient and result-oriented team at Ashoka.

My experience of working at Ashoka University has been an empowering one. From managing the responsibilities of the Student Life Office, organising and participating in University-wide events, to now leading a team, it has been a journey of wonderful highs and learning lows. Every day at Ashoka is new and full of possibilities. It is inspiring to be amongst an energetic lot of students, who are full of novel ideas, constantly looking to the future as they work towards improving it. As an educationist myself, it feels empowering to enable these bright minds to help leverage all the wonderful opportunities this University has to provide for them.

The description for the Office of Student Affairs on the university website reads, “Student Affairs Office cultivates and promotes student learning and development, with a strong commitment towards diversity, inclusion and mutual respect; physical and mental well-being; cultural enrichment and creating opportunities for empowerment.” Interestingly, on our journey to doing all of this and more for the students at the University, our team invariably gets exposed to such enriching learning opportunities themselves. We are fortunate to have team leaders who constantly encourage each and every member to keep learning new things and pursue our individual professional goals while working towards team goals. 

At Ashoka, under the aegis of its dynamic leaders and an energetic team, I hope to be able to develop further, a nuanced understanding of creating learning opportunities beyond the classroom for students, understand the value of constantly enriching our lives with new knowledge and advocate for women in leadership roles in educational spaces. 

(Annu Ralli is a Deputy Manager of the Student Life Office within the Office of Student Affairs, Ashoka University.)

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka