Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a technology and business leader with over 30 years of experience leading and implementing complex business transformation in several organisations globally. In my most recent role, I held the dual role of CTO and CISO of Australian Defence. Apart from my professional life, I also run a non-profit that produces and hosts large Indian musical events to raise funds for charity. I am a champion of diversity and a true believer of the importance of cognitive diversity for any organisation to succeed.

Who are the women around you who have inspired you most in your life and why?

The first woman who I am still in awe of is my grandmother. In the old conservative India, she was widowed at the age of 24 with four young children and fought her way through a highly male dominated society to raise her family. She lived to be a hundred, to see her children and grandchildren succeed in life.

My now wife, who was a classmate, colleague and girlfriend, has been my constant source of inspiration over the years. Far superior to me with her technical knowledge as well as artistic skills, I learn from her everyday. To be honest, every woman I see in today’s world who balances their career and personal lives inspire me on a daily basis.

Are there any other female leaders you look up to and why?

In my younger days, I looked up to Indira Gandhi (ex PM of India) for her steely resolve and determination. The same was the case with Margaret Thatcher later on. More recently I have admired Hon Marise Payne, who was the Defence Minister during my time at Defence. In my corporate life, I have looked up to Indira Nooi, ex CEO of Pepsico who never compromised on being a wife and mum while taking on the challenging role of CEO.

Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?

I believe that not just women but increasing diversity in the leadership group is critical for the success of any business. It is a proven fact that cognitive diversity yields better results and better decisions.

As an advocate for diversity and gender inclusiveness, are there any initiatives that have worked for you to promote equality?

As a diversity champion, I have worked on initiatives to ensure adequate and appropriate representation of women in leadership teams, committees etc. But the most important practice I have constantly and actively encouraged is to listen to women and those who are normally reserved in asserting themselves and expressing their opinions.

What more can be done to support women in male-dominated industries?

I don’t think women need to be supported, they just should not be suppressed. Men need to accept that women are equal (in my humble opinion, they are more equal in several areas) and just be normal, listen and actively engage like they do with their male colleagues.