Mahua Mukherjee is the co-founder of The Star in Me– a career advancement platform for women. Mahua with an experience of 18 years in the corporate sector, quit her job as a director in consulting at cognizant to pursue her goal. She, along with her friend and co-founder Uma, started their venture ‘The Star in Me’ to support women professionals. Mahua shares more about her business story with WOI- Womenpreneursofindia
Be persistent, do not lose focus, keep experimenting and do not shy away to pivot from your original idea of the venture.
I am Mahua Mukherjee , I have Co-Founded a venture named “The Star in Me” – it is a global career advancement platform for women professionals and diversity partners for organisations focused on building business effectiveness with diversity. Prior to starting my own venture in 2018, I was a director in Consulting at Cognizant, a multinational corporation that provides IT services, including digital, technology, consulting, and operations services. Through my 18 years of corporate career, I had global experience working across 3 continents and managing global teams across IT services and as consulting practice leader for India and APAC regions with P&L accountability.
I am an alumna of IIT Kharagpur, Indian School of Business (ISB) and MIT Sloan School of Management. I currently hold other positions as mentor at Mainstage Incubator (a Frankfurt based startup incubator), Influencer at Womennovator and one of the 15 PAN India ambassadors at SheLeadsTech – a venture of Facebook and YourStory which is initiated to improve the pipeline of women tech entrepreneurs within India.
A few years ago, Me and my co-founder Uma, walked into a leadership conference and realised that we were the only two women among 60 men! Such incidents had happened many times in the past, but for some reason, it struck a chord this time. It was then, that the fire to bridge this gender gap had sparked. Ever since, we championed several diversity initiatives.
However, we soon realised that in order to address the workplace and leadership gender gap, we had to do something bigger. So, we quit our corporate careers to pursue this goal – ‘The Star in Me’.
We began by talking to women and listening to their stories. We started with one conversation and ended up speaking to over 200 women around the world. We identified the key aspects that influenced their professional success. And we realised that women needed to access multiple and at times, sub-optimal channels to meet these needs.
Hence, we created an exclusive professional platform to cater to all professional needs of women under one umbrella. We also designed it to be a diversity-enablement platform for organisations. That is how “The star in me” was born!”
We were very clear that we wanted the right target audience for the brand – hence our focus has always been quality over quantity. In the initial months, it was our network and credibility through ivy-league institutions, corporate and industry groups that helped us navigate easily. What came in handy was our cumulative experience of 38 years across a variety of industries and countries gave us a vantage point. Very early we could form very good partnerships with industry bodies, academia and global women communities.
We have 3 sides to our venture since we are a Marketplace solution for women talent, organisations & career advancement service providers. – a) B2C – Women Professionals b) B2B – Organisations and c) B2B – Service Providers
We remember our first set of each customer segment very clearly who signed-up on our platform (https://thestarinme.com); the global coaches who agreed to partner with us and our Corporate client which is India’s one of the largest IT MNC.
Within the first few months of our set-up we were selected by Google Launchpad as the top 10 women led ventures in India – This definitely boosted our Confidence extensively. In the same month we also got selected as TOP 10 women led ventures in a Global Competition She Loves Tech.
Having a co-founder with whom you have worked before is a blessing. I and Uma were colleagues at Cognizant consulting for about 5 years. We could leverage on our individual experiences as we built the venture. Uma is an IIM alumna and currently serves on the Board of IIM Kohzikode.
In the initial phase we had a chequered experience with technology until we onboarded Xelpmoc as our technology partner cum investor. This allowed us to focus our energies more on business development and experimentation as technology was well taken care of.
Beyond the organisation structure, I too have a very supportive family and most importantly, my partner Saurabh who has always been my biggest critic and mentor in the venture.
My entrepreneurial journey has been phenomenal in terms of learning, execution and implementation. Had always tried to implement agility in large organisations – but actually had successful implementation of being agile in business in our venture. The one thing that we put our current energies on is to build a dream team that will help us scale “the star in me” and make it a global venture with impact.
Lastly, I would like to invite women professionals across the globe to be part of “The star in me” platform by signing up at https://thestarinme.com and take charge of their career proactively and not act once the need arises.
Thankyou Mahua. Your venture is an amazing platform for women professionals. We are very glad to feature your business story on WOI. We wish you all the best for future endeavours. Keep Inspiring!
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