Season’s Greetings, everyone!
As we draw the curtain for 2015, we are pleased to introduce Charu Sharma from India, the Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month for December 2015. Charu Sharma is an award-winning entrepreneur, explorer and author based in Silicon Valley. With 5 National Awards, expeditions to all 7 continents, over 600 stage shows, and two startups, this young amazing woman was enlisted as a “Power Woman” alongside such notables as Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Gandhi, and Melinda Gates by Youth Incorporated magazine in March 2012.
Charu’s life’s mission is to economically empower women. We find her story very inspiring and hope you are inspired as well.
Charu Sharma is an award-winning entrepreneur, explorer and author based in Silicon Valley. With 5 National Awards, expeditions to all 7 continents, over 600 stage shows, and two startups, this prodigy was enlisted as a “Power Woman” alongside such notables as Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Gandhi, and Melinda Gates by Youth Incorporated magazine in March 2012.
Charu built two startup companies from her college dorm room before getting recruited by LinkedIn. Charu realized that other young women around her were seeking traditional career paths because they did not have exposure to the entrepreneurial path or access to the right female mentors. To solve this, Charu brought together audacious women entrepreneurs and founded the Go Against the Flow movement- through her book (coming out in Spring 2016), documentary film and Huffington Post interview series– to inspire other millennial women to take intelligent risks and consider building their own startup companies. Hackbright Academy listed her documentary under 5 Films for Women in Tech and Entrepreneurship to Watch.
Charu grew up in Mumbai and went on to study Economics and Physics at Mount Holyoke College in USA on a scholarship; she holds business certificates from Stanford and Dartmouth. She organized TEDxRiverNorth in Chicago, and she has spoken at two TEDx conferences on risk-taking and entrepreneurship respectively. Charu holds black-belts in Karate and Taekwondo; she has penned a travel memoir Far From Shore. She enjoys adventure sports and writing in her free time.
On how she started out
Charu tells Opportunity Desk:
“I built two startup companies from my college dorm room before getting recruited at LinkedIn. I realized that other young women around me were seeking traditional career paths because they did not have exposure to the entrepreneurial path or access to the right female mentors. To solve this, I exhausted all my life savings and brought together audacious women entrepreneurs and founded the Go Against the Flow movement- through my book (coming out in Spring 2016), documentary film and Huffington Post interview series– to inspire other millennial women to not just keep going with the flow, rather to take intelligent risks, and consider building their own startup companies and further create economic opportunities.
I wanted to make this film to bring inspiring success stories of female entrepreneurs (and how-to’s) in front of my female friends who were brilliant and entrepreneurial but didn’t think they had what it took! We started filming pretty quickly, and this became a movement to empower one million female entrepreneurs and we got backing from Arianna Huffington, Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn CEO), leading VC’s and Sari Rosenthal (Tyra Banks Show and Oprah Show’s emmy-nominated editor) among others who are committed to creating value for female entrepreneurs.
We premiered at 32 LinkedIn offices around the world on 19th Nov, and we’re raising funds on kickstarter to bring this film to young women at high schools and universities. Our goal is to empower one million female entrepreneurs by end of 2016.“
On what inspired and still inspires Charu
Ms. Sharma comes from a risk-averse, middle class, male dominated background in India where women are expected to be housewives and stay at home moms, where parents wish for a son, not a daughter, but where things are changing for the better. She was lucky to get a scholarship to come to Mount Holyoke College in the US, which opened several doors for her.
By the age of 21, she had been to all 7 continents, authored books, given TED talks, built companies and was listed as a Power Woman alongside Oprah and Melinda Gates. She was lucky that she met supportive mentors who staunchly believed in her and trusted her with bigger responsibilities, yet she has definitely experienced covert, if not overt, discrimination especially during traditional finance internships. Either a woman was perceived to be too tough and unlikeable or too soft and undeserving; she was never just right.
As her documentary interviewee Ilene Lang of Catalyst says, “There is a lot of pressure on a woman to behave in ways that are less aggressive, less ambitious and less leader-like. Everyone loves a supportive. ”
Final words for You(th)
“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, back when I was 23 and newly out of school, is this: look around and figure out who you want to work with for the rest of your life. Figure out the people who are smart & awesome, who share your values, who get things done — and maybe most important, who you like to be with and who you want to help win. And treat them right, always. Look for ways to help, to work together, to learn. Because in 20 years you’ll all be in amazing places doing amazing things.”
Who will be the Next Young Person of the Month?
You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. O! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader or subscriber!