Mar 6, 2021

6 virtual events for women in leadership on IWD

Kate Birch
5 min
From webinars to workshops, these EMEA-focused virtual events on female leadership will inspire and inform you on International Women’s Day
From webinars to workshops, these EMEA-focused virtual events on female leadership will inspire and inform you on International Women’s Day...

This International Women’s Day (IWD), Monday March 8, and throughout the month of March, institutions and organisations are both celebrating women leaders and addressing the issues that hold women back from getting to the top. 

IWD’s theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge, a call-to-action to challenge the status quo by raising awareness against bias, celebrating women’s achievement, and taking action for equality. While this year’s UN Women Official theme is Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in COVID-19 world

Discover these top six virtual webinars, summits and conferences being held both on March 8 and throughout March which address these issues with a focus on women across the EMEA region.  

1. Daring Circle Public Sessions

Women’s Forum
March 17-25 2021, 5.30-6.30pm CET daily

The Daring Circle Virtual Sessions gather a global audience of diverse perspectives to unlock women’s leadership for impact, to look beyond recovery and steer the world toward a sustainable and inclusive future. On March 17, check into Women’s STEM leadership: Superpowering an Inclusive Recovery & Future, while on March 18, join a session on inclusive AI and find out what it can for our Economies and societies. March 23 sees a session on healthy ageing for women, while March 24 focuses on Women Entrepreneurs and how innovation will fuel recovery. FInally, on March 25, there’s a session titled The Green ‘She-Covery’ addressing the power of women in taking climate action. After each live session, you can join the Networking Rooms 18:30-19:30 CET to meet other delegates and continue the conversation.

2. Forbes Women Africa Leading Women Summit 2021

March 8-9

With a focus on women leaders in Africa, this annual event to mark International Women’s Day returns for the sixth year, but this year as a free-to-attend two-day virtual event. Sponsored by Mastercard, and expected to draw 2,000 global attendees, this year’s theme Africa Reloaded: The Power of The Collective will reflect on a year that’s changed everything and look forward to a new path of recovery, growth and inclusivity. It promises to deliver diverse perspectives with the aim of helping women in business navigate the current post-pandemic world. Expect a stellar lineup of globally renowned thinkers and doers, more than 35 African and international speakers, including Nigeria’s Famfa Oil Vice Chair, Folorunso Alakia; Emirati entrepreneur, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth in Africa, Patricia Scotland. 

3. Women in Banking & Finance: Growth Mindset Mini-Series

Women in Banking & Finance (WIBF)
Monday 8, 1-2pm / Wednesday 10, 8.30am

Following on from the hugely successful Growth Mindset Conference this time last year, Women in Banking & Finance (WIBF) has created a mini-series for 2021. Join Gina Unterhalter, leadership, mindset, career and business coach for women, on Monday 8 at 1-2pm (Mindset of a Successful Female Leader) to uncover the secrets behind creating the mindset of a successful female leader and the powerful tools and strategies you will need to achieve success while remaining authentic and keeping your core values intact. Perfect for current and future female leaders in any industry or sector, she will cover practical mindset tips to help you become a powerful networker self-promoter and collaborator. Alternatively, as part of the same series, join the Entrepreneurship Mindset session on Wednesday 10 March at 8.30am with David Roylance, an award-winning author and leader in Empowering Women in the Workplace through voice, leadership and presentation coaching. 

4. Women in Tech Day

Monday, March 8

A round-the-clock virtual event, so check in at any time wherever you are in the world, this conference sponsored by big businesses like Bumble, Netflix, Microsoft Azure, Shopify, GoogleCloud, JPMorgan, is also free. It will showcase women in tech and their craft, through a variety of talks (from coding to cloud, devops to data science, AI to IoT, backend to blockchain), as well as career, personal development, startups, business, strategy, and inspirational talks. Workshops and discussions will be led by women and/or allies. From software engineers, data scientists and frontend developers to digital business analysts, creative technologists and tech firm founders, and and including the Senior applied ML scientist at Microsoft, BBC, Deloitte, Google, Samsung, Airbus, Shopify, Amazon, JPMorgan and Netflix.

5. Siemens #ChooseToChallenge

March 8 11.30am – 2.30pm CET

Join Siemens’ free virtual event to hear from an international lineup of inspiring speakers from around the world as they discuss how we can all advance gender equality and empower women with a focus on the central IWD 2021 theme of #ChooseToChallenge. All sessions will be in English. From panel discussions on Leading the Gender Equality Change and How Gender Equality Empowers Us All to sessions on creating an empowering employee experience and the importance of diversity of thought. 

The lineup of global speakers includes leadership members of the Siemens’ team worldwide including Lothar Herrmann, CEO of Siemens Greater China; Barbara Humpton , CEO of Siemens USA; Liliana Gorla, head of HR at Siemens Digital Industries; Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO at Siemens South and eastern Africa; and Sunil Mathur, MD and CEO of Siemens India. In addition, hear inspiring discussions from Philippe Mareine, head of CSR at Atos; Henning Beck, neuroscientist, biochemist and winner of the German Science Slam nationals; and Anais Bock, founder of Let’s Work Magic.

6. Accelerating Gender Equality in the Workplace

March 10, 6-7.30pm

In celebration of IWD 2021, EY is hosting a virtual event focused on how the company is accelerating gender equality. Dubbed as an evening of “inspiration and learning”, the event will introduce legendary athlete Col Dame Kelly Holmes (MBE mil), who will be sharing her insights and experiences of gender parity and will further host an EY panel discussion and Women in Technology session. Further EY panelists include Catalina Hernandez, EY’s Diversity & Inclusion Manager for UK & Ireland; Gavin Jordan, COO, Financial Services; Nicky Burr, Association Director, Innovation, Global Data Office, EY.

Share article

Jun 27, 2021

Billionaire Kumar Birla Champions Regional Supply Chains

Elise Leise
3 min
As multinationals try to recover from the pandemic, Kumar Birla has a solution—narrow your scope and invest in reliable, regional suppliers

As the head of the Aditya Birla Group, a US$46bn firm that operates in 36 countries, Kumar Mangalam Birla is no stranger to splashy strategic moves. Yet his recent announcement that he no longer wants to acquire globally distributed supply chains stood out. While many companies have struggled to cope with shipping backlogs, his firm has chosen to pivot and focus on regional networks. Said Birla: ‘We wouldn’t look at a company or a business where you source in one corner of the world and sell in another’. 


He cited protectionism, the pandemic, and the limited movement of products and people around the world as ABG’s primary causes of lost profits. And they aren’t alone. Over the past year, 900 of the U.S. and Europe’s biggest IT, defence, and financial services firms have lost an average of US$184mn apiece

An Era of Global Disruption

Over the past few decades, low shipping rates and rapid delivery times have lulled multinational firms into a false sense of security. In the early 2000s, companies chose to take on significant global supply chain risks in exchange for increased profits. First, it made sense to manufacture higher-value goods, such as electronics, in low-cost regions throughout Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. Second, first-tier suppliers started to outsource the manufacturing of specific components to second-, third-, and even fourth-tiers—leaving supply chains with extremely limited visibility. 


So when COVID-19 disruptions struck certain regions, companies were caught unprepared. Usually, these events come few and far between. But over the past ten years, we’ve seen a number of ‘black swan’ events that have thrown the supply chain industry into chaos. Here’s a quick history of the most significant events in recent years, thanks to the MIT Sloan Management Review


  • 2010. China creates export quotas for rare earth elements. 
  • 2011. The Tōhoku Earthquake hits East Japan; flooding sweeps throughout Thailand. 
  • 2016-present. Trade wars between the U.S. and China hurt suppliers. 
  • 2020-present. COVID-19 pandemic shuts down international shipping ports.


Now, Kumar Birla is one of many who want to re-evaluate how we run our supply chains. Though his company has acquired 40+ companies in the last quarter decade, Birla intends to build up local hubs rather than expand operations. 


Why Pursue Regionalisation? 

Combine Chinese economic dominance, global supply chain vulnerabilities, and major government policy shifts around the world, and you have a storm brewing on the horizon for big multinational firms. As Brookings noted, ‘the biggest risk for trading opportunities in the developing world is growing protectionism in more advanced economies, often dressed up as national security protection’. 


Altogether, from the U.S. to the European Union, governments are trying to protect their domestic supply chains, secure adequate stockpiles of materials, and build world-class local networks. Consider Biden’s recent executive order, which seeks to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to home soil, or Japan’s bid to open more memory chip fabrication factories near Tokyo. The Aditya Birla Group intends to react in kind. Said Birla: ‘We’re looking at regionalism as a very big theme’. 

Will Others Follow Suit? 

In the post-pandemic economy, global businesses must decide whether to expand or contract. On one hand, the Alibaba Group’s Cainiao Smart Logistics Network recently launched a direct flight between Hong Kong, China, and Lagos, Nigeria. On the other, the Japanese government is desperate to make its chip manufacturing domestic. Indeed, as two supply chain strategies diverge in a post-pandemic world, the one businesses take may make all the difference. 


Yet Birla is confident that regionalisation is the right call. According to his words at the Qatar Economic Forum, even necessary cross-border transactions should be smaller in scope. And as the Bloomberg Billionaires Index now lists his net wealth at US$10.4bn, up 52% from 2020, he may have the cash to test his theories out. ‘Regional hubs, regional presence, regional employment, catering to regional demand’, he stated. ‘We’re a global company rooted in local economics’. 


Share article