Dhwani Jaipuria: Director – SRJ Edu Services Pvt. Ltd
Do you think women in leadership roles are still a minority in India? What is the situation in the education space? How can we increase the number of Indian women in leadership roles?
Women are surely taking up more leadership roles than before, even though they are still a minority in India. Today, as many as 14 percent of all entrepreneurs in India are women which is a lot better than what it was a decade ago. Women do hold more leadership roles in the education space as teachers, principals, and counsellors because of their natural ability to connect with children. As for increasing their number in leadership roles, a lot can be done. First of all, girl children should be educated and empowered. Attitudes need to change regarding the roles that women can and should perform in society. Merit should be given precedence over gender at work places, and pay parity ought to be ensured.
When looking specifically at educational planning and management, why is it important that we have women in leadership positions?
Leadership roles in educational planning and management shouldn’t be the sole preserve of women or men, but it is important that women should get 100% opportunity for these positions. I believe leadership roles should be independent of gender.
As a woman in a leadership position, what was this journey like for yourself? How were you able to overcome the different obstacles encountered?
I didn’t encounter many obstacles in my making as a leader. The obstacles appeared after I took up a leadership role. With an education background in architecture, I took up the position as Director of SRJ Edu Services because I wanted to make a difference and prove myself. I had no experience of the education sector and the first biggest challenge was to set up an entire pre-school within 3 months. I educated myself about the industry and, looking back, I can say that those were three adventurous months of my life. Leadership position for me is all about knowing your manpower, its strengths and weaknesses and, of course, having a team with the same intent. With a dedicated team I think the obstacles do not seem like obstacles.
Do you consider yourself a leader at Little One, the Jaipuria Pre-School? What do you feel you bring to the role that inspires others to see you as a leader?
I see myself as a team-player at Little One, the Jaipuria Preschool, and my meetings with the team often motivate us all. I think if a leader can keep her team motivated and striving for perfection, she is on the right track. It’s all about giving the right balance of guidance and space for someone to perform. Leadership is an ongoing learning process for me, and my mentor is my father-in-law, Shri Shishir Jaipuria, Chairman of Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions.
As an academician, what would you like to change in the field of education or our current pre-primary education system in general?
I want to change a lot of things. I would love the parents not to put too many pressing demands on their children. Parents often expect their children to be perfect at everything they do. They often get impatient and expect children to obey every command. The truth is that children need their own time and space to learn everything. The most important thing they have to learn is to learn.
What projects or goals are you working on or leading currently?
As far as projects and goals go, my constant endeavour is to strive for perfection. I’m happy running the 5 pre-schools, and I aspire for them to be the best 5 pre-schools in India. Since what we are doing in the pre-primary space is replicable, I do see a lot of franchisee opportunities for my fellow women to come forward and make their mark in the field of education.
Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about being a woman in the education sector or advice for other women carving a top management space?
Of all the sectors, I think the education sector is most welcoming to women and it is up to them to do their job well and strive for excellence. Honestly, it is fun to be a part of the education sector. There is no shortage of learning and it is a special experience to interact with kids, be experimental, and be playful. Finally, I would sign off with a quote that applies to me, and to all of my teammates and students. That is: Learn to Learn.