Express Pharma

Working in finance is more about talent equality  

Puja Thakur, CFO and Executive Director, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (GSK), in an interaction with Ashwini Prakash, Managing Partner and Board Director, Singapore and India, Stanton Chase, talks about why women should not limit themselves, and must keep their happiness foremost in their minds to experience the joy and bring recognition to an organisation

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Finance as a career is rarely chosen by women. What urged you to pursue in this field? Any stereotypes you had to face?

My lens is a bit different! The way I see, finance world is ruled by women. Almost all top CEOs in the banks of India are led by women leaders, and even beyond, Indian women leaders are steering IMF, World Bank, European Central Bank, etc. They are inspiration to women who aspire to make it big in their career. For me, my greatest motivation was to crack into a big manufacturing and marketing company where the senior leadership or the Board Room was always present as shades of “Black and Grey” and I think in the last 10 to 15 years, there have been quite a few trailblazers in the industry who were able to crack through this with their sheer determination, intelligence and adaptability. In most cases, including mine, stereotypes were always around like will she be comfortable being mobile, will she be able to stay late after motherhood, will she be open for networking and attending events and so on. These stereotypes existed then and they exist even now. “The gender gap in finance is both a challenge and an opportunity.” Finance is about more than just money – it’s about running the business as a co-pilot and making an impact. I believe women are in the best position to accomplish this.

There are fewer women pursuing a career in functions like sales, finance and strategy. Your views?

Broadly, challenges are at both personal and at professional levels. The biological clock and the career clock for most women are in total conflict with e