They belong to different worlds – one makes dreams come true on celluloid and the other gives financial wings to our dreams, be it higher education or owning a car, or a house.
The two stalwarts we are referring to are Deepika Padukone and Chanda Kochhar. Coming from Bollywood and the banking world, they seem as poles apart as two people could be. We prodded a bit further at Fortune India’s coveted Most Powerful Women event held in Mumbai on Feb 2 and found there are more similarities than one would have thought.
To begin with, both have risen to the top in sectors which are essentially dominated by men.
Kochhar, managing director and chief executive of ICICI Bank, puts it simply by saying a woman has to have the three Cs: conviction, capability, and confidence.
“When I started my career, my job was to do project appraisal, and go and visit factories and do an inspection. I don’t think 35 years ago anybody expected girls to visit factories and actually do the inspection. But the work speaks for itself and that’s how you keep moving. What worked for me was that I was at a place of work where women were not discriminated. We all had the confidence that if we put in hard work we will get what we deserve and capable of handling the next responsibility,” says Kochhar.
Padukone, on the other hand, who entered Bollywood with a bang nearly a decade ago with blockbuster Om Shanti Om opposite Shah Rukh Khan, says three Ds --determination, dedication, and discipline--have held her in good stead.
“You were asking about glass ceilings, and I think it is as easy or difficult as you choose for it to be. In my home, we are two girls: my sister and I and at no point, I was made to feel different just because I am a girl. I was never made to feel any less for being a girl. It was always about an individual or human being what I am capable of,” she says.
Daughter of renowned badminton player Prakash Padukone, Deepika says her father didn’t train her differently or have any less expectations because she was a girl.
The two, however, emphasised that no amount of personal determination and confidence would have helped them had it not been for the support of their families.
It is not just about a cooperative family, it’s also about the love and happiness you see in their eyes when you progress, says Kochhar, who typically shies away from talking about her personal life and gave a rare peek into the family side of her life. “I have seen my husband, children, parents, and in-laws being so happy and joyous about every step I have taken forward. That has been my biggest inspiration and driving force,” says one the most powerful women and bankers in the country.
For someone like Kochhar achieving the fine balance between work and life is definitely hard. It is not about saying “I will do 50% this and 50% that”, she says. “It is all about saying I will do 100% of this and 100% of that. And over life, I have to achieve this 200%. We have to make choices moment by the moment, but we have to try and achieve a wholesome life over a period,” says Kochhar, who has two children, Arjun and Aarti.
Padukone, who is single, admitted she is at a different point in life than Kochchar and is free to put in 24 hours at work without thinking that anyone at home is waiting for her.
“I think for women, who have worked all their life, they will always find a way to be at the right place at the right time. It is time women stop feeling guilty about doing things for themselves,” says the Padmaavat star.
Both Kochhar and Padukone are role models to millions but they insist they are like any other human being.
Padukone says she would love to be a secretary. “I love doing paper works, taking printouts. I can be an amazing executive assistant (EA). I will be so good at the job,” she says, while candidly divulging that she flunked in maths.
Anyone ready to hire this EA?