A few snippets from our conversation here
Ayushi: Today, I have with me my sister Sakshi—Senior Program Officer at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Let me start with a small introduction. Sakshi, you’ve worked in the social impact space for 12 years, have a similar pedigree as mine & have also been a terror for me!
Sakshi: Meet Ayushi, Founder & CEO of a brand that is making the lives of working women seamless. She’s also been an academic topper, got the most coveted job from campus & in real life, has been the bane of my existence.
Ayushi: What’s the one thing that you’d love to say to women?
Sakshi: If you’re in a position where you can influence & shape other people’s lives, then it’s your responsibility to lift more women up. If the door has been opened for you today, it’s because a lot of women worked hard for that, as well as male champions. Make sure that you’re enabling other women to get exposure & opportunities.
Ayushi: I totally agree! We’ve been fortunate to be who & where we are, thanks to our upbringing. It makes sense to do the same for others. Giving back to society & other women who don’t know that they can do this, is our job. There’s no reason for us, who are fortunate & educated enough, to compromise on anything. Society will take a lot more time to become gender-neutral but can we start with ourselves & our own lives in the limited sphere of influence we have? That itself will be pathbreaking.
Sakshi: Speaking of upbringing, tell me how our parents shaped your life.
Ayushi: The fierce, independent women that we are today is because of the common value system provided by our parents. We’re really fortunate—we are who we are because of them. Dad has been a go-getter who’s set the bar high for us & I don’t remember not dreaming big. It was always about careers, goals & achieving them. Growing up, our parents didn’t create any gender stereotypes for us. I don’t remember thinking that we couldn’t do something because we were women.
Sakshi: You’re right! I still remember how Dad taught us to drive & of course, we had to learn properly! His point being that he wouldn’t always come to pick or drop us. Those were his ways—to push us to be the best versions of ourselves. Mom also set the tone. She was a lawyer who multitasked & also helped dad with setting up his practice. They’ve both struggled & taken risks. Mom also made sure that we didn’t feel there was any other option for us but to have a career.
Ayushi: We were expected to go out & excel in our fields, right? They’ve taught us to be self-made & shaped us into the women we are today. Now it’s our responsibility to create an enabling environment for the women we come across & work with.
Ayushi: What does it mean to have me as a sister?
Sakshi: If I were left to my ways, I’d probably not be where I am & making the impact I’m making today. You’ve been my role model & set the bar for me to reach a certain point of excellence. You’ve also been a killjoy in the sense that I could have been doing many wild things! But it’s worked out great, so that’s okay.
Ayushi: You know, despite being older than you but just 15 months, I’d be treated like a very old child! I didn’t get the same treatment as you did. Mom-Dad would pamper you to no extent, Sakshi! Being an older kid is hard.
Sakshi: But in hindsight, I’ll admit I was lucky enough to have incredible role models. Not everyone has such role models, so you have to actively seek those mentors & peers out. If you invest in such relationships, you also evolve as an individual, get more exposure, opportunities & that’s what you tap into. You’re also the sum of the people you’re closest to, so choose such people who add value to you & help you grow. You should ask for what you deserve, which a lot of women don’t do.
Ayushi: I quite agree. I’ve been really thankful to have such incredible mentors around. I also want to add that it’s good to explicitly call out mentors as well because that’s when people understand the role you’re playing as well. People are important but it’s also important to have a comfort level & trust with those around you.
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