BAPS hosted “Lead from Within”, a leadership conference held at 10 centers across North America
March 30, 2014
In March of 2014, the Mahila Wing of BAPS North America held the seventh annual Women’s Conference. To recognize the unparalleled leaders we know and admire, to acknowledge the leaders amongst us, and to enrich the leader within us, BAPS hosted “Lead from Within”, a leadership conference held at 10 centers across North America.
The conference first aimed to recognize women as everyday leaders:
· Everyone is a leader in their own way, as they take charge of their lives and are unwavering in their vision for themselves and their families.
· But what makes a good leader?
· How can individuals grow as leaders?
The conference focused on the importance of understanding ourselves, the values we hold in esteem, our belief system, and a solid spiritual foundation – one that is essential in leadership as it speaks to our qualities and to our character.
Lead From Within’- Annual Women’s Conference Hosted by the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills
What is leadership? Society ascribes leadership in politics, religion, communities, sports, etc. based on actions, achievement, and at times, popularity. Typically, we limit our view of "leaders" to people in position of power: CEOs, politicians, athletes, and perhaps community leaders. There are leaders who have a strong work ethic and who win and accomplish major tasks; but are they life’s leaders? Are their characters worth emulating? True leadership is rooted in a person’s character, in their actions, and in the examples they set. Everyone has the potential to be a leader in his or her own right.
To recognize the unparalleled leaders we know and admire, to acknowledge the leaders amongst us, and to enrich the leaders within us, BAPS hosted a Women’s Conference themed “Lead from Within” at 10 centers across North America. On March 22, 2014, over 350 women gathered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills, California to participate in this annual event, now observing its seventh year. The annual conference is inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, in an effort to highlight the empowering role of women in today’s society and also to ensure their spiritual growth.
Dr. Brinda Subramaniam, professor of physics and engineering at Cypress College, graced the event with her presence. She conveyed the message to Lead from Within through her personal outtakes and stories as a wife, a daughter and most importantly, a mother. The audience took inspiration from her accounts and realized how they faced similar challenges in their lives. Dr. Subramanian shared her enthusiasm for the Women’s Conference, “It’s a pleasure to be here, in sharing this afternoon with women who think alike, share similar aspirations, goals, and challenges in life. I would like to thank BAPS for giving me this opportunity.”
Ms. Meera Patel, a former U.S Marine and entrepreneur, is currently a marketing specialist at The Walt Disney Company. In her opening dialogue, Ms. Patel led an energetic and interactive exchange in identifying whom they consider to be leaders and why. Ms. Patel highlighted the necessity of individual leadership in one’s community, saying, “Leadership is using one’s influence for a worthwhile cause. When we define it this way, it makes leadership imaginable and accessible for everyone. Every one of us can do it. Everyone is a leader.”
The following speech addressed leadership essentials that mold a good leader. Ms. Monal Patel, a registered nurse in labor and delivery at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, emphasized the need to understand one’s self, one’s belief system, values, and spirituality. Encouraging the audience to channel the leader within, Ms. Patel stated, “We are all leaders in our own right, whether that be within our families, our communities, or our careers. Her talk focused on the need for a connection with one’s conscience as it plays an important role in day-to-day actions. She emphasized that an understanding of the values and beliefs that guide our choices solidifies our spiritual foundation in leadership.
In delivering the closing speech of the conference, Ms. Bindi Patel, a registered nurse who specializes in pediatric oncology at The Children’s Hospital of Orange County, shared fundamental qualities expressed by leaders she looks to emulate. She spoke of her ultimate role model, her guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj. She conveyed moving examples from his life, exemplifying sacrifice, humility, and stability. She emphasized how her guru’s life demonstrates courage and strength in challenging situations, guiding her in everyday actions and choices. This enables her to be an effective, poised leader in all her diverse roles.
Among the women honored at the conference, Ms. Rupa Kotecha, a registered nurse and local hero, shared her experience in saving a life on a busy Southern California freeway. Though Ms. Kotecha was off-duty, she displayed selfless initiative in performing CPR on a complete stranger unconsciously slouched over his steering wheel. Ms. Kotecha remarked, “To be a leader, you don’t have to have a uniform, a badge, or a title. All you need is the willingness to help another person. The smallest acts can mean the world to someone else, so don’t be hesitant to help others.”
After the conference, attendees enjoyed the opportunity to network and share their perspective on the talks of the day. The younger members of the audience took notice of their own belief system and gained confidence in their ability to lead in their pursuits. Others recognized their strengths, contributions, and recognized themselves as leaders, some for the very first time.