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IBPW Annual Conference Features a Male Keynote Speaker for the First-time

posted Oct 27, 2011, 12:25 PM by Diana Rohini LaVigne

By Diana Rohini LaVigne / Special to India-West

(San Jose, Calif.) – Last week, the Indian Business and Professional Women’s(IBPW) 0rganization hosted its annual conference featuring a male keynote speaker for the first time in their history.  Keynote Dr. Marty Nemko, host of a career talk show on KGO-am and career coach, didn’t disappoint the audience by suggesting both some valuable and some highly controversial ways which women can stand out from the crowd.

Nemko provided a helpful 3-page handout of career advice complied from all his past keynote speeches and spent his time at the microphone going into details on key topics from the handout.

“Understand that the most important commodity these days, when everyone is working at least 60 hours, is time,” said Nemko. He offered suggestions on how to get the most out of every minute by evaluating how you spend your time closely.  “Do you really need to go to your distant cousin’s wedding in New York this weekend?” he quipped.

Although some of his advice seemed popular, other advice didn’t gain the primarily all-female audience’s support. “People with children shouldn’t expect any special provisions at work. There is a reason there is something called a ‘Mommy Track’,” Nemko offered.   IBPW Executive Director, Deepka Lalwani challenged him briefly at the end of his talk about his notions around advancement and women with children. The room grew silent during parts of his speech but it created lively debate and discussion following his talk. 

After a short break for snacks, the conference hosted a panel discussion called “Overcoming Setbacks and Regaining Happiness” featuring Kalpana Shyam, Rennu Dhillion, Sonu Ratra and Dhaya Lakshminarayanan.  This panel was uplifting and panelists spoke about the need to stay positive, understanding the role setbacks have in one’s life and how to expect the unexpected.

Talking about her first marriage and its ill-fated outcome, Dhillion was straightforward about her setbacks. “All the setbacks in my life were worth it,” said Dhillion, an award winning small business owner of Genuis Kids. “Today, I’m so proud of turning those (setbacks) around.”

But it was Shyam that stole the show by striking a serious cord with the women in the room.  Diagnosed with stage two breast cancer recently, she spoke about the need to take care of yourself first and foremost.  She has been leaning on friends at work to keep her position stable while she undergoes treatment for her cancer. Wrapped in a head scarf apparently used to cover her loss of hair, audience members couldn’t help but face her story head on.  She was bold in telling her story without any tears and explained how missing one monogram could be a fatal mistake.  She was upbeat and no doubt inspired women to schedule their exam in the near future. 

The final panel called “Leading in the Current Environment” was moderated by Dilip Saraf and included panelists Inderpreet Sawhuey and Shachi Patel.  Saraf gave a superb recap of the panelists’ topics by saying, “Success is overrated. Failure is underrated.”  He spoke about how failure can be just as rewarding as success and how we learn only from failure. Just after this brief panel discussion, the conference ended with round table discussions with the IBPW conference speakers.  It was there that the value of networking was apparent.  Women from around the Bay area connected with one another on work and personal issues and business card exchanging was a non-stop activity till the last audience members left the conference.

For more information on IBPW, visit them online at www.ibpw.net
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