Meet the Judges

We our proud to announce the judges for WeAreTheCity’s Top 50 Rising Stars in India. All of our judges have been carefully selected based on their industry experience and their passion to inspire future role models.

On behalf of WeAreTheCity, our sponsors, Barclays and nominees, we would like to sincerely thank all of our judges for donating their time to judge these awards.

Shortlist Judges

Ashu Thakur
Ashu Tkahur
Advocate & Solicitor, Ashu Thakur & Associates

Ashu Thakur is a solicitor from India and the UK with 20 years of experience and exposure in Corporate, Commercial, Foreign Direct Investment, M&A, Joint Ventures, Real Estate and Litigation. She is the recipient of two prestigious international scholarships; The British Chevening Scholarship for Young Indian Lawyers 2000 awarded to outstanding emerging leaders and The Lions International Scholarship 1991 awarded by the Centres Culturels des Lions Club de France. Ashu speaks fluent French and has completed the Diplome superieur in the French Language from the Chambers of Commerce and Industry Paris (Education Ministry Paris) as well as the Alliance Francaise de Bombay. Ashu founded her Boutique Law Firm ASHU THAKUR & ASSOCIATES in 2009 specialising in Corporate & Commercial, Mergers & Acquisitions, Foreign Direct Investment, Joint Ventures, Private Equity, Real Estate, Intellectual Property Rights, Employment, Healthcare, Media, Entertainment, Sports, Arbitration & Litigation. The firm has a dedicated French desk to advise French, Canadian, Francophone & international companies on Indian Collaborations, Mergers & Acquisitions, Joint Ventures & International Arbitrations. The Law Firm has recently launched a new vertical “AT INDIA Prime” which is dedicated to Media, Sports & Entertainment sectors. ASHU THAKUR & ASSOCIATES is nominated for the Thomson Reuters Innovation Award 2016 for exceptional legal work provided to a healthcare social enterprise funded by the Melinda and Bill Gates foundation.

Kuku Singh
Kuku Singh
Founder, Tatva Leadership

Kuku is an experienced executive coach, senior facilitator and consultant in Diversity & Inclusion. Kuku founded and has been the principal of several leadership development consultancies focusing on leadership development, executive coaching and diversity and inclusion. In the last twenty-five years, Kuku has coached corporate and executive clients in manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods, medical, information technology and related services, banking and insurance. She has worked in India, Sri Lanka, Dubai, AbuDabi, Mexico & UK. Her current focus is working with organisations to build the female leadership pipeline. She works with senior managemnt to evolve the Diversity business case, identify high potential women at all levels and create a sustainable platform for their career advancement to leadership positions. One of the projects that she and her company are engaged in is preparing women for board positions. Kuku has a Master’s degree in Economics, a Bachelor’s in Law, a diploma in Marketing and Finance and a post-graduate diploma in Human Resources. She is certified in advanced-level MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, ROI, RCS (Results Coaching System) at the basic and executive levels and Simulations from Langevin Learning Services (Canada). She is also certified as an NLP practitioner. A broad base of experience with some clients include: Aditya Birla, Barclays, Capgemini, Deutsche Bank, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Atlas Copco, SKF to name but a few.

Rita Gangwani
Retired Lieutenant, Indian Army & Personality Development, Beauty Pageant & Etiquette Consultant

Rita Gangwani started her illustrious career in the Indian army. She passed the Army Medical Board competitive exams in 1977 and was one of the first female officers in the MNS Corps of the Indian Army. Rita stood first in the All India Merit list and was awarded the President’s Medal along with the Air Force Station (Bangalore) trophy as best cadet. Rita is now a successful entrepreneur offering a wide range of personal development services including mentoring, motivational speaking, pageant coaching and etiquette consulting. She is also an actor, author and healer. She educates and inspires with a perfect blend of wisdom, razor-sharp insight and humour. Rita appeared in the Top 10 Thinkers of India list and has also received the Lord Baden Powell National Award by the President of India two years in a row. Rita also teaches at various slums and motivating street children. She also attends the Divya JyotiSansthan ‘AntarKranti’ program, rehabilitating and reforming prison inmates.

Amit Desai
Managing Consultant, YSC

Amit is a Managing Consultant and Executive Coach with YSC India. He is also part of the global Inclusion and Diversity think tank at YSC. He brings close to two decades of rich industry experience, in his work in the APAC region. Areas of functional expertise in his industry experience span Leadership Consulting, Product Development & Management, Strategy, Design and P&L management. Prior to YSC, Amit was Client Solutions Director and led design and sales for Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), India. A certified Executive Coach he double hatted during this period as an Executive Coach for CCL AsiaPac. Prior to CCL, Amit led businesses in Education and Leadership Consulting, Banking and Media with leading firms in India. The breadth of his leadership consulting experience was across a variety of industries, where he specialized in the design and delivery of highly customized leadership and teaming solutions, including coaching senior executives.

Kavita Ashok
Kavita Ashok
Founder and President of Tree For Life, NGO

Born and brought up in a dynamic Army home, very early in life Kavita embodied qualities of adaptability, confidence and communication. As her father moved from one city to the other her personality blossomed. Top of her class at school and college, Kavita emerged to be an all-rounder. She got married at 22 and is now a proud mother of two lovely daughters. She took a seven year break from her PR job to tend to her family. She bounced back into the fiercely competitive world of modelling, at the age of 30, and has since enjoyed a successful career. Kavita has featured in music videos, films and nearly 300 advertisements. She had a change of heart while hosting TV shows, which addressed social issues, and instead she decided to plunge herself into social work – something that runs in her blood. Her mother and grandmother have been known for their magnanimous dedication to society. Today she runs her own NGO, Tree for Life, established in 2009, which works for a clean, green and harmonious planet. She works with children, colleges, schools, slums and embassies. She has received many awards for her projects with women and the environment. Kavita has led delegations to Bhutan and the US. Kavita is a columnist for several newspapers in addition to contributing as TV panelist.

Anuranijta Kumar
Managing Director, Chief Human Resources Officer, Citi South Asia

Anuranjita Kumar is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Citi South Asia. She has worked across Asia Pacific (APAC), Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and USA. She began her career with Procter & Gamble in 1994, joining Citi in 1995. She has held a variety of roles including Senior HR Generalist for Corporate and Investment Banking, Staffing and Development manager in NY and Senior HR advisor for Private Bank in Singapore. In her last role in India, she was Head of Compensation and Benefits for South Asia, before moving to London in 2005 as Head of HR Strategy and Planning for EMEA. In 2007, Anuranjita was the first South Asian and woman leader to be appointed Head of HR, Global Banking EMEA. She successfully partnered with the global banking team to turn around the business bottom-up which resulted in the EMEA Corporate and Investment Banking function being recognized as the most improved Corporate and Investment Banking franchise in Europe by Financial News. Anuranjita has been recognized as an ‘Upcoming South Asia Leadership Talent’ by Asia Networks. Anuranjita is a management graduate of XLRI, specializing in Human Resources. She is a gold medalist and topper in industrial psychology from Delhi University. She is keenly involved in volunteering with underprivileged children and enjoys spending time with her family as well as in reading and travelling.

Winners' Judges

Kunda Jadhav
Director, India Head of IB, Wealth & Investment Management Offshore Operations, Barclays

Kunda Jadhav has over 27 years of experience of working across various Investment Banks in India. Kunda joined Barclays in February 2014, and is currently the India Head for Investment Banking, Wealth & Investment Management Operations. She is also the Site Lead for BSS Nirlon Site in Mumbai and is the Co-Chair for Barclays Gender Network, WIN. Prior to Barclays, Kunda worked with Morgan Stanley managing Domestic Broker-Dealer Operations and then moved on to set up and head the Off-shored Securities Operations and Clearing Operations. Kunda has expertise in Transitions and Location strategy, Operations management and building efficient operating models with the required risk and control framework. Kunda is a graduate in Commerce and has pursued a Management Diploma course from India Institute of Finance. During weekends, Kunda devotes time on volunteering activities covering health, education and socio-care. She also conducts life skills coaching for young adults.

Shilpi Singh
Executive Coach & Hospitality Entrepreneur, Altavis Consultancy, Cinnamon Stays

Shilpi Singh is an Executive Coach & Hospitality Entrepreneur. She has 14+ years of HR experience with some of the world’s best media companies including Ogilvy & IMG. She has handled PAN India responsibilities and challenging global matrices across multiple industries including FMCG, Luxury, Bank, Telecom,Technology, and Manufacturing. She now plays the role of Performance Catalyst, working to better performance, profitability and purpose. She also runs a chain of homestays in India – Cinnamon Stays, Grannys Inn. Shilpi is a mentor and Co-founder of Naari, a non-profit organization working in the space of menstrual health. Shilpi is also on the Board of Swechha, working in arena of environmental issues and youth empowerment.

Saumya Vardhan Picture
Saumya Vardhan
Statistician | Aviator | Astrologer | Entrepreneur

Saumya is the Founder & CEO of, India’s only science & technology based O2O platform for providing authentic Vedic services such as Vedic pujas, Astrology, Numerology, Vastu consultation, Palmistry through educated and qualified professionals. Prior to launching, she worked in London for 7+ years as a seasoned management consultant with KPMG London and Ernst & Young London. She is an MBA (with Distinction) from Imperial College, UK, an MSc in Operational Research from Lancaster University and a BSc (Honours) in Statistics (Gold medalist) from Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), Delhi University. She is also a qualified astrologer and applies the scientific and mathematical models in Vedic sciences to deliver authentic services through her venture.

Meenakshi Advani
President, American Women's Club of Mumbai (AWCM); Chairperson, FAWCO Biennial Conference 2017; Co-Founder & Director, Efficient Bazaar; CMD, Rosemoon Fine Arts Production Company

Meenakshi Advani born and raised in India, has been fortunate to experience life from the slums of Mumbai to the Hollywood glitz. Currently the President of the American Women’s Club of Mumbai, (AWCM) and by recently assuming the role of the Chairperson of the FAWCO Biennial Conference Mumbai 2017, she is working to bring and integrate leading global women with helping drive real philanthropic work on the streets of Mumbai. Meenakshi grew up in a household where business and independence were key. Her father was a very successful engineer and business person and mother a talented house-wife. She graduated with a Fine Arts Degree at the University of Florida, after which she successfully pursued a life and career in Hollywood, Los Angeles. In her early 30’s, she ventured into opening her own business, while doing roles in Hollywood, pioneering hand-crafted textiles, apparel and home furnishings from India to the leading designer stores across America such as Nieman Marcus and Saks 5th Avenue . She continues to pursue her career in business and is now the Co-Founder of a unique “StartUp” supplying creative products and services to the hospitality sector. She started her new venture about 18 months ago with her partners in India and US – and has already received endorsement and funding from one of India’s leading VC groups. In her spare time, she enjoys music, has had her own rock band, performing as a vocalist and is aspiring and working to produce a musical stage production by 2017.

Darshana Ogale
Darshana Ogale
Senior Vice President, Capgemini

Darshana Ogale is a Science graduate with a post graduate diploma in Computer Science & Management and 28+ years of experience in the IT Industry.

She is Senior VP at Capgemini India. She joined Capgemini 16+ years ago and has been a part of the growth of the organization from 75 people, when she joined, to its current strength of 86,000+ people in India. She has played various roles, which include Project & Program Management, Quality Head, Customer Relationship Management, Sales Support and Transition Management. Until Dec 2015, she was COO of the European Offshore BU, managing a team of over 6000 people. She is currently Head of the Central Fresher Management team, responsible for the end to end strategy for bringing in campus talent into all BUs of Capgemini India, skilling them, developing them into productive resources and tracking their progression for their first 2 years in the organisation.

Darshana is also the Chairperson of Winspire, a forum that is focused on promoting diversity in the organization and developing, mentoring and retaining women. She works closely with the global [email protected] program to increase diversity in the group and to promote an environment that is inclusive.
Prior to joining Capgemini, Darshana has worked with organisations like Tandon Information Solutions, Mahindra British Telecom (now Tech Mahindra), Zenith Computers, Parle Beverages Pvt. Ltd. and Siemens India.

Kavita Devgan
Kavita Devgan
Health | Author | Speaker

Kavita has many avatars: she is a popular health columnist, practicing nutritionist and weight management consultant with several hundreds of successful weight loss patients. She offers practical, customised programmes that deliver weight loss the right way – via habit modifications – to ensure long term results. She is also a health columnist with premier Media Groups in India and has been writing for last 15 years, besides being a prolific and feted speaker too. She is the author of the book Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico).

Surekha Shenoy
Surekha Shenoy
Chief Operating Officer, Morgan Stanley's India Global in House Centers (GIC)

Surekha is the Chief Operating Officer of Morgan Stanley’s India Global In House Centers (GIC) at Mumbai and Bengaluru. She has been with the firm for 11 years. She is on the GICs’ Steering Committee, Women’s Business Alliance SteerCo and the Board of the GIC entity. She is the Western Region chair for the NASSCOM GIC Forum and on the GIC National Council. She has spent eight years on strategy and management consulting assignments across 13 industries in the Tata Group and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. She holds a Masters of Management Studies, Finance degree from Mumbai University, was ranked first and is a Cost and Works Accountant (CWA). Outside work, she is passionate about humanitarian initiatives.

Nisha Singh
Nisha Sinh
Style Director, Jean Claiude Biguine

Nisha has tamed tresses of many Bollywood stars alongside working on several films and print advertisements. Nisha started her hairstyling journey in 2001 under the guidance of Dilshad Pastakia of DILSHAD’s Salon. Today she is a style director at Jean Claude Beguine in Juhu, Mumbai. Nisha had the privilege to train at Vidal Sassoon in London as well as with Ms. Seema Jeerajani. Nisha recently completed her training with the Beguine educators.

Champion Judges

Apurva Purohit
Apurva Purohit
President, Jagran Group

Apurva Purohit is the President of the Jagran Group, one of India’s largest multi-media conglomerates. She handles the group’s portfolio, including print, radio, digital and outdoor. She was responsible for one of the most significant M&A’s in the media space last year when Radio City, which she ran successfully for a decade, was acquired by the group. She ran Radio City for IVFA, one of India’s leading private equity funds, the network became amongst the largest and most profitable networks in the FM industry. Radio City was also judged as one of the Top 20 places to work in across several industries in the Great Place to Work Survey 2015. Apurva has been one of the most successful CEOs’ in media, having delivered the 3 KPI’s of an effective leader. She is an Independent Director on the boards of Mindtree Ltd, a global information technology solutions company with revenues of over USD 430 million and Meru Travel Solutions Ltd, India’s first radio cab service. She is a partner in Social Venture Partners India which is a coalition of influential leaders committed to helping solve complex social issues through personal philanthropy, advocacy, and capacity building. She is also the author of the national best-selling book “Lady, You’re not a Man” – the Adventures of a Woman at Work. Through the book, she talks to men and women in the workforce offering practical advice on how to be successful and happy at home and at work.

Sarika Pic (1)
Sarika Bhattacharya
Co-Founder, Biz Divas Foundation & Altavis Consulting

A highly respected speaker on Diversity & Inclusion and related business issues, Sarika Bhattacharyya co-founded Biz Divas Foundation in 2012 after over 17 years of experience having worked with firms such as Merrill Lynch. Nominated by the US Embassy for a prestigious Women Leadership exchange program (Fortune/US State Dept), Sarika spent a month in the USA being mentored by CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
A strong advocate for inclusive leadership & promoting equal opportunity for all, Sarika has been featured as the Top 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter by WOW Asia. She was also awarded the prestigious “Leadership in Mentoring” award by Hillary Clinton & Bank of America in the USA in 2014 for her work under Biz Divas Foundation, which has mentored more than 3000+ women across India since its inception. She has also been featured as “Top 10 Global Diversity Consultants” in the Global Diversity List 2015 published by The Economist.

Archana Shiroor Hi res 2
Archana Shiroor
Director, Head of HR for Barclays Bank, India

Archana Shiroor is the Head of HR at Barclays Bank, India managing the Corporate, Investment Banking & Wealth Business for India. As an active member of the Bank’s Operating Committee and the Risk and Control Committee, she provides strategic direction in partnership with business leaders on the people agenda at Barclays. She partners closely with HR leads in the Asia Pacific region as well as US and UK to drive people practices for the firm. In a career spanning 24 years, Archana has spent 5 years with a leading business house in India, the TATA Group and over 11 years across three leading Private Sector Banks; HDFC Bank, Development Credit Bank and YES Bank. She has held country level responsibility for the HR function for a period of 12 years of which 5 years was as Head of HR for two reputed Indian Private Sector Banks. She is also an Independent Director on the Board of a leading healthcare company in India. Archana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Human Resources from SIBM, Pune. Beyond work, Archana enjoys cooking and is a movie buff.