Myth 3: Women are Risk Averse

by | Sep 7, 2015 | Career Advice | 1 comment


\” I am not enjoying my job anymore and want to quit\”, I said to my friend Ranjana who was also a banker like me. We were having our weekly lunch at a posh restaurant in CP, Delhi. She was initially shocked that am contemplating quitting a handsome salary and comfort. \”Why don\’t you look for another job?\” she asked. But I was sure that another job would put me back in the same rut and I need to do something more meaningful.

While Ranjana and I have been in touch with each other since we worked together 5 years ago, my transfer to Delhi got us closer. She was expecting her second kid at that time and we made a pact to go out for lunch once a week. I hated my new job and was not adjusting well to the new city. Ranjana was also stagnating doing the same job for last 5 years.

My conviction to quit and start something new was supported by Ranjana and we decided to partner. We soon realised that we would need to make many lifestyle changes going further. The first thing we did was to shift the location of our weekly lunch to more economical \”South Indian\” joint. This was in preparation of shifting our banker mindset to entrepreneur mindset. 🙂

While one can blame my genes for the reason of entrepreneurial bug biting me but that was not all. The need to leave some legacy behind and to do something meaningful with my educations, skills and experience was very high.

Thus, the idea of Altavis & Biz Divas was born at the back of an envelope and we were in business. We started meeting other entrepreneurs in our network, traveled to talk to people and get our act together. This process took us 6 months to have a concrete business plan. That\’s when we decided to put in our papers and quit our day jobs.

We soon realized that all our contacts in corporates were based out of Mumbai. I reached out to my ex colleague Priyanka who worked with me some 10 years ago. We had not met since then but recently connected to each on Facebook again. She was moving to Mumbai from Singapore soon and wanted to explore something new. I spoke to her on the phone and got her on board as 3rd Co Founder. And that\’s how we launched our business on 9th February 2011 (9/2/11- or Nau Do Gyarah) 🙂

This whole experience is in contrary to popular belief that women don\’t take risks or can\’t trust each other. We quit our corporate jobs to follow our passion and most importantly we took calculated risks to make it sustainable. Added to that, out of the three co founders of the business, 2 of them (Ranjana & Priyanka) never met each other for another six months from the time they decided to be partners. This requires having intrinsic faith in people and trusting your instincts which women are good at. Many people assumed that we wanted work life balance or could not cope with the pressures of high profile corporate job. But this is far from the truth.

\”As an entrepreneur, one works 24X7 that too without being paid (at least initially) and has the responsibilities of a Peon to the CEO of the organisation\”.

Lot of people advised us to start a wealth management firm but our heart was not into it. We were clear we wanted to focus on a business idea like Diversity Consulting and support women leaders . But we had no past experience in this.

\”We needed to unlearn to relearn & push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Learn to  be comfortable with being uncomfortable\”.

Since then, I have come across many women who have quit their jobs to pursue their dreams or have taken risks to follow a different career path or learn a new skill. My friend Rita ( a very senior Marketing leader in a large Software firm) recently quit her job to join a start up. The pay is half of what she used to get but she got handsome sign on bonus as sweat equity. Another batch mate of mine, she quit her family business of jewellery to start her own e commerce platform, that is today No. 1 in the baby care products in India. A young girl Sonal who is a LSE Graduate quit her corporate job to start her own NGO – Protsahan to educate slum children in East Delhi. There are numerous examples which we can see around us where women are pushing their boundaries, taking risks and following their passion.

A Survey Research **done by the Simmons School of Management in Boston proves that although businesswomen do indeed embrace risk but they are largely viewed as being risk averse. This can be attributed to the \”invisible risk\” taking which is due to number of factors :-

  • Societal expectations which view women as nurturers and not risk takers.
  • Women don\’t seek more visible measures of successful risk taking found in most organizations like high status positions
  • And last but not least lack of \”self bragging\” or self promotion by women about the risk they have taken and their subsequent success.

To counter this, women are recommended to make their risk taking more visible in order to enhance their career potential. They need to \”talk\” about their efforts and achievements in ways that signal success to those around them.

After all, success begets success.

As my mentor Geraldine Laybourne, Founder of Oxygen Media advises –

\”If you cant toot your own horn, toot another woman\’s\”.

It\’s the best way to elevate women to be leaders.

Cheat Sheet to Success:

  1. Learn to trust your gut instincts – after all they are nothing but archive of your past experiences in the memory.
  2. Make your efforts and achievements visible
  3. Create your supportive network of women who celebrate each other\’s success and achievements.

Get in touch with us

We’re here to listen, collaborate, and make things happen. Whether you have questions, ideas, or opportunities to explore, we’re just an email away. Reach out to us at