Madhura DasGupta Sinha
Founder & CEO, Aspire For Her
In 2020, as Madhura DasGupta Sinha celebrated her 50th birthday, she decided to gift herself something that she’d had her eyes on for a while. A brand new startup.
If that was unexpected, it was more so because of the fact that up till then, Madhura’s journey had been highly conventional. She studied electrical engineering. She did her MBA from XLRI. She got a job at a bank, and she worked for the next 25 years of her life. But as she scaled the career ladder, something infuriating happened. She started noticing a lot of glass ceilings. ‘That was really eye opening.’
Madhura grew up in a very progressive household with a very powerful role model. Her mother (and now, her co-founder) Mandira Dasgupta was the first woman Deputy Commissioner in the Commercial Taxes Department. She went on to become an IAS officer — in fact, supported by her husband, she actually sat for the Civil Services exam when she was still a new mother to baby Madhura.
‘Growing up seeing my mother, I believed that women could all have the opportunity to be powerful and financially independent. I was always bothered by women not entering the workforce. I did not know there was such a thing as gender discrimination.’ Of course, in the early stages of her career she did not experience it much herself. It was only when she started getting promoted, did she realise that no matter how hard she tried or how much effort she put in, there would always be people who would treat her differently just because of her gender. ‘It came as a rude shock.’
As she vented about it to her parents, her mother said something that would stay with Madhura long after. ‘So what are you doing about it?’
Madhura was still thinking about that as she neared her 50th birthday. Having worked for 25 years, and with her own daughter now grown up, she realised that she was in a place, financially and emotionally, where she could actually do something about it. She collaborated with her mother and daughter, and the three of them started Aspire for Her. ‘Of course, there was a fear of failure, of moving away from my conventional path. A fear of what others would say. But the numbers and the instances of gender disparity all around me were too disturbing, and I wanted to change that.’
And so Aspire For Her was born and there was no looking back. ‘I spent the first 25 years of my life studying, and the next 25 years working. I hope the 25 years after this are the best yet.’