Shalini Wadhera heads a firm that offers cyber security solutions
The UAE is one of the best destinations for women entrepreneurs, giving them a platform to realise their dreams, says Shalini Wadhera, co-founder and principal - growth catalyst at ProVise Consulting. The company is an independent, product agnostic, research-driven advisory firm specialising in governance, risk and compliance (GRC) and cyber security professional services.
"The UAE is a perfect example of women empowerment; putting equal emphasis on women's education and providing job opportunities. Today, women make up 60 to 70 per cent of the public sector workforce out of which 30 per cent are in leadership roles. If it had not been for the UAE, I am not sure if we would have taken the decision to start ProVise in 2011," says Shalini.
The UAE is ranked as a leading country in gender equality in the region, according to the World Economic Forum's 2016 Global Gender Gap report. Gender equality is of paramount importance in the UAE. The success of an economy is measured by the involvement and empowerment of its women. The UAE is highly progressive on this front and from Shalini's perspective, it offers women immense opportunities to either take up jobs or become entrepreneurs.
Shalini, as co-founder of the company, has played a key role in the success of ProVise Consulting and manages the company's growth accounts in GCC countries. ProVise started as a 2-member UAE organisation which today spans over two regions with over 50 professionals. She and her teammates have laid ambitious plans for 2018 to take ProVise to new heights with a 4x growth model.
She brings close to two decades of IT experience to her current role at ProVise Consulting. Shalini is also a global trainer and speaker in IT service management and IT governance. She has delivered multiple trainings in IT best practices for almost a decade.
ProVise is the brainchild of co-founder Aadesh Gawde. He identified a crucial gap in the market between consulting and implementation engagements of GRC and cyber security. The idea was not to just bridge the gap but also create an outcome-based approach and build a lasting partnership with clients. "The reason I accentuate on this is because we strongly believe in delivering value and not just delivering a project," adds Shalini.
"I had faith that the combination of our approach and expertise in IT governance and cyber security would be a key differentiator in the market. Eventually, it was through my tenacity and determination that we got the idea off the ground and ProVise Consulting was formed as a 2-person team in 2011. From the onset, I believed in the concept of thought to realisation; it is also our slogan and reflects in our approach."
Shalini believes in simplifying technology jargon and engaging logic to drive clients to understand the benefits of the programme. "Simple things like when our consultants are delivering a project, they adopt the local organisational culture and flavour into the engagement. Our flexible approach and these small things are what differentiates ProVise and helps us transition a client to a partner and a project into a programme."
Today, ProVise is the foremost independent research-driven advisory firm specialising in GRC and cyber security professional services for organisations in the region. "What has laid the foundations for our success is our ability to turn our client's IT resources into their assets, and so they rely on our guidance, expertise and vision. All our projects are designed with an outcome in mind and we work with our customers to institutionalise the practice within the organisation," adds Shalini.
"We just don't deliver projects, we ensure GRC and cybersecurity are in built in the DNA of the organisation. How we approach clients has helped us grow each day. It is no wonder that today we have an enviable client portfolio comprising the region's leading government establishments, financial institutions, aviation, oil and gas, the region's most popular entertainment and hospitality projects, and so on."
Asked on women empowerment, Shalini says her personal goal is to change the perception of how women view technology or a career in IT. "Today, IT is as much a woman's domain as it is a man's. There has certainly been an increase in the number of women being appointed to take on roles in cyber security. As a woman who has built a successful career in IT, I encourage hiring women at ProVise. We look for women who not only have the experience and the right 'ITtitude', but also the ability to add value and insight and grow with us. We have a history of recruiting women in accountable positions and we have nurtured some of the most sought-after talent in the IT governance space."
A key aspect of women's empowerment is about providing equal opportunity in the workplace and the chance to contribute to a business' success. "I believe that women should be confident in their abilities to take on a challenging career in IT. It's not all about technical jargon; it's about understanding a client, their challenges, their goals and objectives," informs Shalini.
"Women possess highly cognitive abilities to understand technology and with their high emotional intelligence, they make excellent consultants. Women are natural multitaskers - they are equal contributors to society and their homes. They are also the ones who nurture the next generation and guide them to career choices. They are smart moms training smart kids for the smart nation. The training for cybersecurity begins at home which will eventually lead to a safer society. With the right encouragement and determination, women too can be path-breakers. I encourage women to believe in themselves and their ideas - that's where true empowerment lies," she concludes.
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