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Extract from a book: The Story of Naina Lal Kidwai

The story of Naina Lal Kidwai

A young starry eyed girl once went to her father’s office. His father was the CEO of a reputed insurance company. Her father left her alone in a room and went out for a meeting. Those days there were no computers and the little girl did not have anything to do. So she climbed into her father’ chair with great difficulty and sat down. The leather felt soft and luxurious. With her arms on the two arm-rests, feet propped up on the table—she was close to heaven.
She looked around the room, there was a nice lampshade placed in a corner, and a portrait of Jawaharlal Nehru, on one of the walls. Thick green circuits covered the window which opened out to the busy M.G. Road, in the Fort area of Mumbai. She loved the setting, but she needed more excitement than this. And, it came in the form of one kick of the leg and the chair went swivelling. Yippee!!! She screamed happily. It was fun. Another lunge she gave, this time the left leg pushed the table and the chair swivelled in the opposite direction.
What’s going on? Her CEO father had just returned and was standing at the door. He was clearly not amused at his room being turned into a playground.
“Nice chair, dad”
“Dad, can I take it home?”
“No! Now come on, get off the chair”
“Dad, why not?”
“I said, get off the chair. Come and sit on this sofa”, he said pointing to an exquisite leather sofa, set gallantly at one corner of the room.

“Okay. Dad, can I come to your office everyday and sit on the chair. I just love it”
“No, beta. That’s not possible. Now, come on. I will have to finish some work and we will get back home. Mummy will be waiting.
That day an aspiration was born—an aspiration to own an office, like the one her father had, an aspiration to head a large company probably even larger than that of her father’s. The year was 1966. Over four decades later, everything that the little girl aspired for came true. When her father told her that she could not have the swivel chair that she wanted so much, she did not aspire just to get the chair all for herself.

She aspired for much more. She dreamed of his office, his job and wanted to be the CEO of  large organisation, some day. She wanted to make a difference—she wanted to prove to the world that as a woman she was as competent as the men around. Today, she has shown the world that an aspiration backed by self-will and belief can do wonders.
Today, she is the group general manager and the CEO of HSBC, in India. She followed her dreams and aspirations with such a passion that today she, as the CEO of one of the largest banks in India, sits in a large cabin, from where if she looks out, she would be staring at the same room where her father once sat, as the CEO of the insurance company, on the other side of the street—the room where her aspirations took birth.
Naina aspired big. She was only sixteen when she dreamt of being a successful businesswoman, which in those days was considered to be a man’s domain. She graduated from the Delhi University where she had her first serious brush with leadership—earlier she had been elected the school captain at Loreto Convent, Shimla. She was voted the president of the Lady Shri Ram College Students’ Union.

Extract from a book The Story of Naina Lal Kidwai1
While doing her articles with Price Watehouse Coopers, she realised that the only way to get ahead of men in this country was to be more qualified than them. So she set out on her journey. And, when she did set out, she aspired for the best. Despite resistance from her parents she went ahead and did her MBA from Harvard University. She was the first Indian woman to do so.

Extract from a book The Story of Naina Lal Kidwai
This is what aspiration can do for you. Set your aspirations high, chase them with wholehearted commitment and conviction—no one can hold you back. Aim for the sky. Reach out for the stars and nothing lower. There will be a lot of people chasing and competing with you, if your aspirations are mediocre. But once you break through this clutter and surge ahead, traffic is really very thin on the last mile. You will suddenly find yourself running all alone. Only the few make the cut and if you want to be one of them, you will have to surge ahead with the power of your dreams.

(The extract is taken from the book “I Bought the Monk’s Ferrari” by Ravi Subramanian)

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Written by Kapish Kaushal

I am an investment banking analyst with Goldman Sachs. Prior to this I completed my post graduation in International Business from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi. I did my graduation in Economics from Delhi University and have played Chess at the national levels. I am passionate towards football and collection of motivational stories, videos, quotes and movies.


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