Ascending your Priorities

For all the Ascenders women & all ascending women from Jayalakshmi Thirugnanam (Director, Ascenders Technologies):

womens day

This is a message to you from me on the occasion of Women’s Day – woman to woman.

“If you pick a particular role or way people see you, it generally sticks for life.”

A small statement I came across very recently and I am amazed at its hard-hitting truth because it came from a woman and she meant it for women.

So choose your roles carefully and decide how you want to be seen and perceived.

Make up your minds that you are always equal to men, if not superior to them.

And I mean in all ways – emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.

We are usually told (mostly by other well-meaning women) to speak, behave and even think in a manner that is convenient for menfolk.

We are conditioned to believe that we are around to facilitate men.

Please do not give in to such wrong beliefs.

Every human being is born in this world to experience self-fulfillment and happiness.

These could come from any source.

You could be happy being a career woman or you could be happy tending a family.

You could be happy painting beautiful pictures or you could be happy creating delicious meals.

It could be anything!

It is up to you to recognize what makes you happy; make it your objective and respect yourself for it.

Only if you respect yourself, believe in your dreams and follow them through, you will be respected by the world.

Express yourself, your desires, dreams and opinions clearly and firmly.

Everything else will fall in place – how you want it to.

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Workshop on Development of Business Models for Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Communities

Ms. Jayalakshmi Thirugnanam – Director & COO of Ascenders Technologies Pvt Ltd and Joint Secretary – eWIT participated as a Resource Speaker in a Workshop conducted by the Asian Productivity Organization and implemented by the National Iranian Productivity Organization in Tehran, IR Iran. The workshop was held from 24 – 28 January 2015.

The objectives of the workshop were to enhance the knowledge of participants of different business models and essential features of successful businesses initiated and managed by women, to understand the critical enabling environment and support systems that contribute to the success of enterprises initiated and managed by women; and also to enhance knowledge of participants of critical managerial functions in different business models for women, especially in rural communities.

Several reports in the literature show that women are better poised to improve their welfare and their economic status when they are able to establish their own businesses. This enhances their security and standing in the community, and more importantly, they are able to provide or augment family incomes. Replicating such outcomes on a wider national level could empower more women to become stronger leaders and contribute more to society and their economies. However, the success of women entrepreneurs could be influenced by many factors such as their level of education, knowledge and skills in managing an enterprise, time they have to manage an enterprise on top of their domestic chores and community social obligations, access to critical resources like capital and technical assistance, and the sociocultural environment where they live. It is therefore important to familiarize women with various business models that could fit in their situation and the established best management practices for each of those models.

The participants were from India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Republic of China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand. The Indian representation consisted of a participant from Karnataka and a resource speaker (Jayalakshmi). The other three resource speakers were from Thailand, Philippines and Iran.

Speakers & Participants

               Speakers & Participants

With Joselito Bernardo - Director - Agriculture Dept, APO

With Joselito Bernardo – Director – Agriculture Dept, APO, Tokyo

A good friend Ms. Mitra Alipour Intl Affairs Officer & APO Liaison Officer, Iran

A good friend Ms. Mitra Alipour Intl Affairs Officer & APO Liaison Officer, Iran

The modules covered in the workshop were Emerging Opportunities and Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs in Asia; Different business models for women entrepreneurs (agri-based models, home-based models; e-based models; etc.); Successful programs supporting women’s entrepreneurship; Basics of business management and enterprise development; Product development and innovations; Identifying markets and marketing; Case studies of successful business models by women entrepreneurs; and Applications of ICT in business planning, management, and marketing. The Workshop also consisted of theme presentations and sharing of country specific case studies, individual/group exercises, and field visits.

The sessions held by Jayalakshmi Thirugnanam were:

  1. Participation of women in labor force and in business

An assessment of the status and trends of women participation in the labor force, in governance and in businesses in selected countries/ Asia/Global; illustrative cases of prominent/leading women successful in business, their basic philosophy, and factors for their success were discussed; and global initiatives and international organizations supporting national efforts to address gender issues and to improve the status of women in society and business organization were also touched upon for the sake of general awareness.

Resource Speaker Role

Resource Speaker Role

  1. E-based Business Models and Use of ICT and Social Networks in Marketing

This session was all about the concepts and principles of e-based business models; the trends in e-based business globally and within the Asian region or selected countries were suitably highlighted; how e-marketing is organized in general; some successful cases of e-based businesses by women were illustrated; and merits of this model through appropriate analytical tools like SWOT were analyzed.

  1. Basics of HR Management and Challenges for Women CEOs and Managers

In this session, the important concepts, principles and tools in HR management in SMEs were discussed; and also common gender issues in the workplace were and how women CEOs/managers can address them.

Country papers were presented by the participants. The papers of each country basically focused on the current trends in female participation and employment; the ratio of the urban and rural population; the ratio of male and female population; the percentage of the female labor force; the percent of males and females in the labor force that are unemployed and which sector/s are females mostly employed.

Issues and challenges faced by women were discussed in detail. The major problems of women who want to engage in small business enterprises in each country e.g. lack of access to capital, lack of knowledge and skill in starting and managing a business, limited access to training and support services, socio-cultural reasons, gender discrimination or other reasons too were highlighted.

The various government policies and program supporting women were discussed with regard to which government ministries or agencies are responsible for supporting women in the participating countries; specific government policies, programs and/or projects providing support to women to engage in business or development of women entrepreneurship were also highlighted.

Basically the most critical emerging needs of women, especially in rural communities, in each participating country in order to be gainfully employed or to be able to start a small business enterprise were discussed in detail.

23rd January marked the arrival of almost all participants and resource speakers. Each was met and received at the Khomeni International Airport in Tehran, IR Iran by staff of the National Iranian Productivity Organization. The warmth of the Iranians’ hospitality, their general soft-spoken natures, helping tendencies and their enthusiasm for life itself was inspiring. Strong friendships were made and cemented and Whatsapp groups were instantly formed to keep in touch. Being a primarily women’s group, the laughter and camaraderie was infectious.

All the participants were put up at the Parsian Evin (a sophisticated 4 star hotel) where the workshop took place. The Asian Productivity Organization hosted the welcome dinner on day two whereas the National Iranian Productivity Organization hosted the farewell dinner on the fourth day.

The Parsian Evin Hotel, Tehran, IR, Iran

The Parsian Evin Hotel, Tehran, IR, Iran

The Workshop started on time and as scheduled and we were all welcomed by a show of snow. The Director of International and Scientific Cooperation who was an integral part of the workshop happily concluded that the snow was a symbol of an excellent start that the workshop would be a grand success. He was absolutely right. The workshop was conducted in a formal manner and all participants as well as resource speakers were prepared and well informed. Each session of the workshop, indeed the country papers as well as the site visits were full of knowledge sharing. There were plenty of takeaways for each participant.

Speaker from Philippines - Ms. Pacita Juan

Speaker from Philippines – Ms. Pacita Juan

The Iranian Speaker spoke about micro finance & credit

The Iranian Speaker spoke about micro finance & credit

Day One: Snow in Iran

In the snow with Ms. Pansiri Jones, the speaker from Thailand

In the snow with Ms. Pansiri Jones, the speaker from Thailand

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Scenic snow filled landscapes in Tehran, IR Iran

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(From L) Kashmir, India & Pakistan...

(From L) Kashmir, India & Pakistan…

(Clockwise)Taiwan, Mongolia, Philippines & India

(Clockwise)Taiwan, Mongolia, Philippines & India

Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, & India

Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, & India

Site Visits

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At a mushroom farm

At the Agricultural Association run by microfinance

       At the Agricultural Association 

The manager explaining the process of breeding mushrooms

The manager explaining the process of breeding mushrooms

At the research lab in the agricultural department

At the research lab in the agricultural department

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At a well-tended greenhouse

Farm Produce sold at the store

     Farm Produce sold at the store

There was also a Group workshop on Product development and marketing based on the learning and takeaways from the sessions held for the participants. All the participants were grouped into four teams and were given a typical Iranian produce to develop and market.

Product Development & Marketing Strategies by the groups

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Teamwork

                               Teamwork

Apart from the learning, there had been other fun filled moments as well such as the inevitable shopping sprees and the sightseeing.

Local Shopping

Shopping!

                         Shopping!

At the mall

                        At the mall

The Iranian wedding gowns

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In all, it was a very fruitful and enriching event for each participating country member.

Some of the fascinating sights like a beautiful sunset over Tehran

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Traditional Iranian breads being baked. The aroma is awesome and so is the taste!

The friendly bakers

                    The friendly bakers

In the oven

Straight from the oven!

Hot and fresh

          Steaming hot and fresh!

All those rials could buy a sim card!

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Teamwork by Sathish

Sathish gave the Ascenders his insights on Teamwork last Saturday. The session was packed with everyone anxiously waiting for the Master to share his wisdom!

He began at the beginning by defining Teamwork as ‘the process of working collaboratively with a group of people to achieve a goal’ using their individual skills and despite any personal conflicts between them.

The educational aid Sathish used was the old but rather modified fable – The Tortoise and the Hare. It started with the much heard of version where ‘slow and steady wins the race’.

Slow & Steady...

Slow & Steady…

But it did not end with the hare learning this piece of golden advice; we see the hare go into introspective mode where he analyses how he went wrong and comes up with a brilliant strategy to beat the tortoise. So that led to the second race where the hare stayed sharp and alert and did not stop from the start to the finish.

Fast & Consistent...

Fast & Consistent…

We see the hare win the race by several miles. The moral: Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady.

Again the story does not end as anyone would suspect. The tortoise began to analyze where he went wrong and understood for sure that he would never beat the hare seeing how the race was currently formatted.

So again there was a race to be run but this time the route was decided by the tortoise. He made sure that there was a broad river to be crossed and as strategized, the hare was unable to cross and this led to the tortoise winning the race. The new moral of the story: First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.

After this, both the competitors became good friends and both did some thinking together. They decided to run the last race again but this time the hare carried the tortoise up to the river bank and then the tortoise carried the hare across the river.

It’s good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you’re able to work in a team and harness each other’s core competencies, you’ll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you’ll do poorly and someone else does well.

The grand summing up by Sathish:

In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriate to change strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to do both

And finally – Let’s go and build stronger teams!

It was Bersin’s turn to lead the Think Tank session today. She spoke at length about Business Networking, the simple tricks and techniques on how to go about it like a pro.

Bersin getting ready to Network...

Bersin getting ready to Network…

The presentation was made lively by the presenter herself not to mention the interactive audience. Questions were raised only to be clarified then and there by animated discussions between the audience and the presenter.

An interactive audience!

An interactive audience!

Networking was defined right at the beginning. Strategies regarding purposeful networking were debated. Being an ambivert was the way to be; that is, not being too much of an extrovert nor being too much of an introvert would help when it came to networking.

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The issue of shyness was discussed, with members of the audience sharing their personal shyness moments and going on to explain jocularly how they had overcome them.

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Business cards were a hot topic of discussion that went beyond the session itself. Following up on a lead is where most people went wrong and this is a crucial ‘must do’ for productive networking.

The session ended with a thought provoking question – What kind of a net-worker are you?

AscendersTech HR manager Mr. Satheesh Durai held an interesting session on Leadership last Saturday. The presentation was thoughtfully put together with a nice blend of various videos, talks and demonstrations of leadership traits. The audience was spellbound by the collection that stressed the points made during the presentation. Leadership skills, qualities and traits were detailed with the help of handpicked clippings that had the Ascenders enthralled.

Leadership

Leadership

Satheesh Durai spoke at length about leadership, leadership qualities, ways to develop leadership qualities, leadership styles, causes for leadership failure and the display of leadership. He finally ended the session on a thought provoking note by asking everyone to introspect if he or she was a leader…

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Last Saturday, it was Mujeeb’s turn to deliver the goods; and that he did with panache. The subject of study and discussion was Branding.

Mujeeb

Mujeeb – getting ready to brand

 

The audience was very active as he took them through the facets of branding. It was an interactive session with a couple of pop quizzes and plenty of knowledge sharing.

Explaining the dos & donts

Explaining the dos & donts

He discussed 7 Affordable business branding techniques starting with a rudimentary question about the definition of branding. Just when everyone got a chance to articulate their understanding of branding, they also began to realize that a brand is more than just a logo.

Passionately involved in the brand

Passionately involved in the brand

The ‘Long-term value’ of a brand was stressed keeping in mind the ‘Credibility and reassurance’ factor that a brand depended on. The team was advised to build on their real strengths and to identify what really engages customers.

Apart from all this, one would have to focus on creating one’s ‘visuals’. The power of consistency was drummed in because it directly relates to the experience one creates for the customers.

And last but not the least, one would have to consciously avoid undermining one’s brand.

Q & A

Q & A

 

 

Another year has quickly slipped away and here we are, standing on the threshold of our seventh year of operations. How time flies and brings with it fresh plans, processes and people…

7th  AscendersTech Anniversary

If we had a magic ball that could give us a glimpse of the future and what it holds for us, wouldn’t that be swell? We would be in a better position to budget and work towards the known rather than the unknown. Unfortunately, there is no magic ball; rather there is only the wisdom to gauge situations as they present themselves…wisdom gathered over the years through a myriad of events, job requirements, customers, vendors, staff, deliverables, ups, downs, swings, offerings and the like.

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Lessons and learnings? We (meaning each and every Ascender) run the company as our very own company ought to be run. Jobs have to be done, targets have to be met, sales revenues have to roll in, discipline is to be maintained, timings have to be adhered to and customers have to be satisfied. There are many more details but these pretty much sum it all up.

Our Guest of Honour - Dr. Sandhya Kalidas

Our Guest of Honour – Dr. Sandhya Kalidas

The new lines of business introduced the last financial year:

  1. Language Translation along with all its allied services such as interpretation, proofreading, editing, content localization and voice overs, in an effective and efficient delivery model using modern technology and resources at global locations
  2. Web applications (renewed & refreshed) – a dedicated internal team to deliver the goods as per client specifications

 

Cake cutting ceremony

Cake cutting ceremony

 

Our new sister concern – APS or Ascend Property Services dealing with the marketing of Real Estate and all its allied services. We have made quite a few inroads in the Real Estate vertical and have officially announced it very recently.

Wishes to come true...

Wishes to come true…

We have seen an influx of new faces as well as some old ones back into the fold and we welcome them all warmly irrespective of gender, experience and qualifications. The outflows have been regretted as always. But as the saying goes, “The show must go on.”

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The HRO department remains to be on top of the internal revenue race what with its capable recruiter workforce and strong customer base. The Web Applications department is trailing right behind and may soon overtake the HRO. Ascenders Business Solutions – ABS – is doing very well under capable hands. The operations are as smooth as ever and this year has seen an increase in the revenues based on the efficient handling of our customer’s systems. The Language Services department seems to be gaining momentum but it is a bit too early to tell. The foundation has been laid well and it is forecasted to be a good year.

We wish every Ascender a long and prosperous growth trajectory in the coming years. We also wish you a career that is driven by passion, loyalty, strong job satisfaction and subsequently, a good work-life merge.

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