Maya Shahani is a well-known name in Mumbai for the work she is doing in the educational and social service spheres. Starting with humble beginnings as a refugee from Pakistan, she now leads an extraordinary life and holds a number of leadership positions.
Maya is a Trustee of the Thadomal Shahani Trust, founded in 1952 by her father-in-law with the primary objective of promoting quality education, healthcare and housing. She is also the Governing Board Member of the HSNC Board running 27 prime educational institutes in Mumbai with over 50,000 students graduating every year.
As the Vice Chairperson of Global Dialogue Foundation, Maya also works closely with the UN to bring all cultures and communities together onto one platform. Her foundation, the SAGE Foundation is part of the Clinton Global Initiative.
The Thadomal Shahani Centre for Management (TSCFM) is an organisation which imparts global quality management education to build industry-ready, ethical business leaders. Affiliated with 75 universities through the Association of Business Executives, TSCFM is recognised in 120 countries. An affiliation with Anglia Ruskin University in the UK gives students an option of a globally recognised MBA.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program run by TSCFM is aimed at women graduates and undergraduates between the ages of 22 and 45. The program is designed and managed by entrepreneurs with faculty members also running their own ventures. The program helps in planning for growth providing training on business models, presentation and meeting skills, digital marketing and social media for brand building as well as understanding fundamentals for raising finance from banks. More details can be found at www.centreformanagement.com
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
It has been a work life balance as it is for most women but I have overcome this through a shift in attitude. I see the challenges faced by women as a glass ceiling in their minds. They can achieve targets if they choose to. Women are not always taken seriously, but they take themselves very seriously. They can easily swing things in their favour through their innate Stree Shakti based on compassion. Success comes automatically if your intentions are good.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
Celebrating life is an achievement by itself. Life makes you evolve from one experience to another and enriches you. So in worldly terms, every milestone becomes an achievement. However, in the final analysis, living a life of purpose by giving back to society and leaving a legacy behind is the ultimate achievement. Building transformational leaders through our Management Institute gives me a deep sense of achievement and purpose.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I chose this life not out of compulsion but out of my fondest desire. So why would I be doing anything else? I feel totally fulfilled. Reading books and spending quality time with my family is something I love doing.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My parents, teachers and in-laws have been my inspiration at every turn of my life. But it was only when I took the journey within that I discovered a higher self. This is now my guiding spirit which never fails me.
What does the future hold for you?
Like Echart Tolle, I believe in the The Power of Now. The past has gone, and you have no control over the future. You only have the present and that is most powerful. In concrete terms I see our Shahani Group building educational institutes of repute globally. This is a legacy we would like to leave. I therefore see the future very bright in all respects.
My message to women is never give up. Be determined, be resilient but always work through love and compassion. Believe in team work – you cannot work alone. Women should believe in themselves and they can achieve miracles. Do not get cowed down by societal pressures.
Strike a balance and believe that a woman means SHAKTI.
About Maya Shahani
Born in the year World War 2 ended and on the day the United Nations came into existence, Maya was made to believe by her mother that she was responsible for world peace and was brought into this world to bring smiles into people’s lives. This influenced her greatly as a gullible child and became the over arching philosophy of her life. She dreamt of being a transformational leader.
From an ugly duckling, Maya blossomed into a beauty queen. Inspired by her teachers to excel, she became the top student in her school. She came to India as a refugee from Pakistan, but destiny placed her into a family of philanthropists and there was no looking back. She rose from one leadership role to another, at the same time fulfilling her duties as a wife, mother and daughter-in-law.
Maya has received many awards in her life time. A recent award was the Jamnalal Bajaj Award for fair Business Practices. She received a certificate of recognition from President Clinton for her village projects, and the Extraordinary Life Award for her global outreach programmes. Shri LK Advani awarded her for her efforts in Social Service and she shared the stage with Gordon Brown at the UN Assembly. Through her efforts, the Thadomal Shahani Trust awarded Ratan Tata and Narayan Murthy with the Ethical Excellence Award.
Maya is a patron of the Cancer Patient’s Aid Association and has adopted many villages and slums as well as a shelter for the homeless children. She fulfils her duties with compassion, love and commitment.
More details can be found at www.centreformanagement.com
This article was provided by WeAreTheCity Mumbai committee member Tejal Gandhi.