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Mission builds bonds between area businesswomen and their ‘Indian sisters’

This Oct. 20, women in business from New Jersey and New York will travel to India for a week as part of the “Friends of India” mission — a vision Daryl Harrison Rand, CEO and president of HarrisonRand Advertising in Guttenberg, had more than 10 years ago.As former president of the New York Chapter of the International Advertising Association and the IAA World Board, Rand observed that very few women ever got the chance to attend world congresses or participate in global organizations.

“I wanted to give women an opportunity to have conversations on a global basis,” Rand said.

The chance would present itself to Rand in the form of an annual themed event she was planning for the IAA.

“I was introduced to a group of women that would help me mount an authentic Indian ball at the Pierre,” Rand said.

“When the party was over, the relationship began.”

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Rand traveled to India in 2003 with these women, who were part of Children’s Hope India Inc.

“They were mirror images of the women I knew in Leadership 300 (via the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce),” Rand said.

So in order to bring both worlds together, Rand began organizing and leading business missions to India.

The first would take place in 2005, co-chaired by Poonam Khubani — president of Telebrands International in Fairfield — and assisted by Dr. Indu Shahani, former sheriff of Mumbai and dean of HR College of Business, a division of the University of Mumbai.

A total of 23 women from Leadership 300 attended that year.

“Every two years since then, I’ve led a mission,” Rand said.

The missions revolve around entrepreneurship, culture, education, business strategy and networking, and government relations.

Only once, however, did a mission — in conjunction with the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce and the Jersey City Economic Development Corp. — include male delegates.

“We found that we have made the greatest impact as a women’s delegation,” Rand said. “We, as a delegation, can enrich our personal experiences and our particular professions, and at the same time, further build linkages with our Indian sisters.”

Education, for example, has been a particular focus, with simplified exchanges of faculty and students between India and New Jersey developing via past missions.

“That never would have happened if it were not for the relationships created on our missions,” Rand said.

Over 90 women have attended missions since 2003, and have supported Children’s Hope India Inc. in turn.

“The philanthropic arm (of our mission) has also been addressed,” Rand said. “We feel really wonderful about having indirectly supported such wonderful projects impacting the children of India.”

As part of the sixth “Friends of India” Mission, prominent businesswomen in the state (including Nancy Blattner, president of Caldwell University; Ann Borowiec, former president of JP Morgan New Jersey and current co-chair of the board of JerseyCAN; and Sue Henderson, president of New Jersey City University) will travel to Jaipur, Delhi and Agra to continue to establish and build relationships with similar-minded Indian women entrepreneurs and mission participants.

Linda Bowden, regional president of PNC Financial Services, is excited about the upcoming trip for several reasons.

“First, it is an opportunity to visit a country rich in history and culture; second, I am very interested in connecting with our business counterparts and simply learning from them; third, as a board member of Choose New Jersey, I am excited to see if there are specific economic development opportunities for New jersey in terms of Indian companies; and fourth, how exciting to be with so many accomplished New Jersey women for the entire trip!” Bowden said.

Having been recognized by four Consuls General within the Indian government, Rand would like to submit the mission to the World Economic Forum for consideration in order to help breed gender parity.

“I hope that we can build even more meaningful, long-term, sustainable business relationships,” Rand said.

ALSO ON THE NJBIZ “BREAKING GLASS” WOMEN IN BUSINESS BLOG:

Q&A with Cheryl Biron on what it takes to grow, sustain one’s success being a woman in business

Did you notice? ‘Highest Paid CEOs’ list is short on women

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