The earliest Women’s Day celebrations go as far back as 1909. Organised by the Socialist Party of America, they went hand in hand with the worldwide movement of women’s right to vote. We’ve come a long way since then and March 8 has become synonymous with celebrating the liberation of womenkind, their accomplishments and unequivocal success in multiple spheres. Today, the lines of gender get more and more blurred as women forge ahead, shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts conquering once-forbidden territories. Read on for some more inspiration and a ringside view into the journeys of three such trailblazers right here in sunny Sydney.
Dr AVANTIKA TOMAR is originally from the historically relevant township of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. She comes across as an unassuming person who carries the full weight of her achievements lightly. On probing further, however, you discover a formidably ambitious and extraordinarily driven young woman who’s mastered the fine art of making the most out of the 24hours otherwise granted to us all. Armed with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, a PhD in Human Resource Management from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta and the precious work experience of Senior Analyst with The Boston Consulting Group office in New Delhi, Avantika came to Sydney in 2014.
At only 33, she’s Principal Consultant at financial giant Mercer and a lecturer at UNSW, where she conducts seminars on Strategic Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour. She also happens to be a theatre enthusiast and loves being on stage as an actor and dancer. She credits her thumping success to her PhD, being in the right place at the right time and her work experience at a global firm back home in India.
Avantika admits she thrives on challenges and almost never takes the easier route. She is also mildly disdainful of hiding behind excuses of gender and ethnicity and is a firm believer of the trite but highly relevant phrase of “Where there is a will, there is a way.
APARNA VATS has been in Australia for two and a half decades now. The youngest of five children, she hails from the Indian city of Lucknow- a place that prides itself on its rich heritage. With a major in European History and a master’s degree in tourism from TAFE, she started her career at Monster.com, at that time a pioneering enterprise of online recruitment. Her beginnings were humble but she quickly grew within the ranks and rose to become the Head of Sales and Service. The company grew from $0 to a million in a matter of weeks! The next feather in her cap was Head of Sales and Service Asia Pacific at Pirelli, Italy during the course of which she lived in Milan. She challenged all conventions at a time when it couldn’t have been easy, by choosing to never marry.
Aparna’s mother has been a consummate performing artiste all her life and her grandfather was the great poet laureate Ayodhya Prasad Upadhyay ‘Hari Oudh’. Creative arts therefore run in her blood. She is an emcee, an actor, a voice artiste and an RJ at 90.5 ALIVE FM, where she hosts a program called the Drive Show, her own talk show – Point of View With Aparna, and AMRAP (Australian Music Radio Airplay Project), where she introduces budding Australian bands. What more, she considers herself a student till the day she dies. At present, she lives in Sydney and runs her own multi-layered business that connects her to her beloved motherland with many varied arms including pharmaceuticals. She hero-worships her mother and credits her in full for all of her achievements today. Discipline, acceptance and the hunger to always learn, she believes, have been the key to her many triumphs.
For those wishing to emulate her success she stresses most urgently on the importance of learning how to control time so time doesn’t start to control you, and the need to map out a blueprint in your head, work within that framework without giving in to the impulse of overachievement or over correction. To maintain a healthy work-life balance Aparna talks about the value of unplugging and of total surrender to home and hearth once you’ve crossed the threshold of your house. Daily meditation and exercise, cooking and gardening are food for her soul.
Dr ADITI DEY is the Manager, Surveillance at the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance (NCIRS). She has completed her PhD, Master of Public Health and Graduate Diploma in Applied Science from the University of Sydney after her medical college degree (MBBS) and training in tropical medicine. She has worked at the University of Sydney, and also in India and Thailand before she joined NCIRS. Her biggest challenge back in the 90s, was the social climate of Australia, where it was common practice to restrict doctors from overseas. There existed various rules and regulations that made it hard for her to break into the system. Aditi was not only a young and budding doctor with dreams and aspirations, but also a young mother to a daughter who was only five when she moved with her family to Australia.
Yet, she persisted and overcame all the bumps on her road and decided to go down the educational path.
She credits her success to not just hard work and dogged determination but also to her husband’s support. Between them, they divided all household chores and helped one another whenever possible.
To women attempting to cope with career, family and chores all at the same time, she has fairly simple but valuable tips – don’t forget yourself, don’t forget to have some fun and don’t get bogged down by the mundane of everyday life. Also, when in Rome , do as the Romans – do not be afraid to change what needs to change in you, adapt happily. The only thing constant in life after all is change.