As a part of its initiative to increase ethnic diversity on public and private sector boards, NZ Asian Leaders asked me to present my thoughts on the state of governance in NZ. As a member, I felt the need to add my voice to this growing conversation and wanted to share my insights about ‘why am I suitable for the NZ boardroom‘.
The Institute of Directors defines an ideal boardroom “as a balanced team with complementary skill sets and a culture that allows them to work together to make the most effective decisions…”. In keeping with it, the future boardroom of NZ should reflect the growing diversity that inhabits the land, as its decisions impact the lives of many.
You may ask why I am keen on this topic. It’s because, I feel, I have a lot to offer, especially in the areas of the 4 Gs – gender, geography, gentry and grit.
Yes, I am a woman of colour. I’m a single parent, responsible for shaping the future of another woman to-be, currently residing in a tween. I arrived in NZ to pursue a PhD programme at the University of Auckland, holding the hand of my then 3-year-old daughter, and not knowing a single soul in this country. Since then, all my decisions – good, bad or ugly – have impacted both of our lives.
It was my passion for learning and eagerness to blend in with my surroundings that helped achieve success in my pursuits. With a determination to see through the hurdles that crossed our paths, I have learned to make informed decisions judiciously, especially the ones that involve women and children.
An Indian by birth and by upbringing, thanks to my father’s occupation as a banker, we lived in several cities around the country, wherever he was posted, and got exposed to a variety of cultures and cuisines. My parents wanted us to see the country, in its entirety, before stepping overseas. As such, I can very proudly claim to have travelled to 24 of the 29 states the country has today.
But then, there came a time in my life when I ended up living in 6 cities across 3 continents – from Calcutta to Leeds, Mumbai to London, Pune to Auckland – over a span of 7 years, and called each city my ‘home’. The wealth of experiences I picked up along the way has been overwhelming. I wear an immense cultural collage on my sleeve, at all times, and seldom miss an opportunity to embrace the super-diverse Kiwi community. These experiences are often what I fall back on to fulfil stewardship roles in a multicultural workplace.
Although I’m less-than-a-decade-old in this country, I consider myself a ‘gentry’, because I feel I’m privileged in very many ways. I’m privileged for being mentored by skilful and talented senior colleagues. Privileged to have come up with innovative ideas that have driven my employer on newer paths to success. Privileged to have mentored innumerable international students from every corner of the globe, and guide them in the Kiwi way of life. Privileged to have developed training materials, as a tertiary academic, to groom students to take on challenges in their workplace.
As any migrant, I have had my share of struggles. But the very fact that I have survived to tell my tale is grounded in the decisions made at every step. In the past few years, I have waded through an immense variety of cultural complexities that have honed my personality. Much of it is reflected in my journalistic writings over the past two decades across Mumbai, London and Auckland. So much so that last year, I launched a news portal called Migrant Views NZ to provide all migrants in NZ with a platform to voice their views.
Thus, I would square-up the 4 Gs to address the interests of all communities, with myriad cultural diversities, in the future boardroom of NZ. The consequent network of interconnected skills will enable efficient governance of organisational processes, even as we progress towards the 5th G.