Empower, Engage & Elevate: Shaili Chopra

Meet one of India’s most dynamic female leaders who is shaping the future of the internet by championing women and bringing them a platform to share their voice. shaili chopra

Shaili Chopra is an award-winning journalist turned entrepreneur. Recently she launched a groundbreaking show called Sisterhood with Shaili where women confess their challenges and confront their insecurities. With every new initiative in the SheThePeople fold, Shaili is pushing new boundaries. Shaili Chopra Shaili Chopra

Shaili Chopra, founder of SheThePeople has a prolific career in journalism, which has now furthered her into entrepreneurship. She was the Editor and Lead Anchor at ET NOW, the Economic Times Business News Channel and earlier with India’s largest TV network NDTV where she was part of the core team that set up their business channel NDTV Profit.

Shaili received the Stanford Draper Hills Fellowship in 2019, the Vital Voices Fellowship for 2017. Beyond Diversity Foundation also felicitated her with the Woman of Influence Award 2017 for her work with SheThePeople. In March 2016 Shaili was announced one of India’s Top 50 Most Influential Women in Media, Marketing and Advertising by IMPACT Magazine.

Shaili received India’s highest honour in journalism The Ramnath Goenka Award for best in Business Journalism. She also won the Media Foundation Best Business Anchor Award for 2010 and in the same year, the Federation of Indian Industry (FICCI) gave her the Young Women’s Achiever Award for contribution to media. She also won the News Television Award for the Best Reporter.

Women Shine caught up with Shaili.

SheThePeople, India’s largest platform for women with real stories — real women doing real work. You may not see them splashed over vogue cover magazines. These women subtly and inaudibly remain in the shadows of the world’s stage, avoiding the glare and glory of the spotlight.

Shaili Chopra created a platform to bring out these real stories that inspire….

1) You have built SheThePeople.TV into Asia’s first media platform for women. As an award-winning journalist and now an award-winning entrepreneur, how has this journey been?

I love a good fight. And so all my journeys have an element of that. Setting up Asia’s first media platform dedicated to women didn’t happen overnight. It takes grit and guts for a person to leave primetime television and delve into a digital world when few are taking those bets. Today reaching over 80 million in India alone, with six digital touchpoints, more than 2.5 million registered on our community network and millions in monthly eyeballs, we are building the women’s internet experience.

I started SheThePeople.TV to create a safe space for women to express, share, connect and grow. It all started with my work in journalism. Reporting and presenting the news for NDTV and ETNOW, for over 15 years or so helped me build a global perspective. I put my Economic Honours and academic understanding to work. Over these years I also realised that we live in a gender skewed world, we thrive on bias and do little to confront our challenges. This became my driving force to start a platform for women that viewed them beyond a market for lipsticks.

We are creating a safe space for women to confess their challenges and confront their insecurities. With our new show Sisterhood with Shaili, we talk about issues that polarise society such as the right of women to sexual pleasure or how patriarchy grows at home. With Point Toh Hai, we are presenting everyday issues young girls face from resentful relationships with the family to questioning the history of bras and why women ‘must’ wear them.

We are not a tab on a website. SheThePeople is the whole universe of women, viewing and presenting them as mathematicians, homemakers, builders, readers, opinion makers, scientists, tech lovers and more. We celebrate women speaking up, we celebrate women choosing to stay silent, we pick issues that impact women and polarise society, we question stereotypes and tradition, and we celebrate intersectionality.

My Journey

I fell in love with the internet back in the 1990s and then when it made a social media resurgence, I fell for it again. I am not afraid of change, in fact, I embrace it. So when it came to opt for digital over broadcast journalism, I took a leap of faith. I quit my job at a time when I was at its peak. This gave me the confidence to take a chance on myself.

Growing up I come from an armed forces family where speaking up was the norm not an exception for girls. In that respect, I am very privileged and believe in using that upbringing and privilege to support others to speak up.

I always wanted to be a journalist and by the time I wrapped school, I knew that was my path.

Journalism became a way of life. It’s another word for my curiosity. I chose to be a business journalist back in the 2000s, was one of the youngest tv editors and soon became the face of a business channel. We were few women reporting and presenting business news back then, just a handful. From Warren Buffet, Tiger Woods to India’s top economists and CEOs, I interviewed them all.

After three channels and 15 years, I had a deeper calling. I wanted to create something new, something never done before and something that promised to be a massive challenge – creating a channel only for women. Creating a platform where women would empower, engage, and elevate. Where they would not be a ‘section’ on a website but the universe itself. Where we discuss sisterhood, being stronger together, and explore ways to live life on our terms.

In a country of 1.5 billion people, women make for half the population.

But do we have a voice?

That people view women as a category. It’s a shame, women are a tab on websites next to Opinion, StartUps, Funding. Half the world is female and we need to recognize the power of that force. I filled that gap with SheThePeople. We believe everyday women, from all walks of lives are achievers. They are breaking new ground, fighting daily struggles, and coming out tronger. We are a combination of content and community that brings women together

“You Take A Chance On Yourself, Go Up That Hill, And Make It Happen!”

2) SheThePeople and you bring out stories that inspire, women who are fighting all odds to live life on their own terms. How do these stories resonate for you?

I am inspired by every woman. every single woman. By women who break corporate glass ceilings, by women who bake bread, by our didis who look after our children, by women who are unstoppable despite being abused by husbands or family, by women who are loud and vociferous about their opinions and by those who prefer to stay quiet and let others lead their battle. I am inspired by women who are making choices every day about themselves, their lives, their sexuality and more.

3) To be successful and innovative in the digital age we need a mindset change and agile ways of working, your thoughts….

Take a chance on yourself. Whether digital or on the ground, some things just don’t change. I have been a champion of using digital and the impact social media can have. People power is a reality thanks to the scale and power of digital. We need to collective use for this for the greater good.

It’s a good challenge — to keep up with technology and know where your audience is moving, what they’re embracing, how soon can you play catch up or stay ahead of the curb. That, specifically, comes with the beast that is digital.

4)  Women are significantly underrepresented in the field of technology. Do you agree?

Women are experimenting with technology and that’s a good thing. Each one of us building new platforms, turning creators, exploring tech that delivers networks, opportunities, information and access are all testing the waters with tech. This is a good thing. From Grace Hopper, Kamala Sohonie or JanakiAmmal, we as women have plenty of inspiration from women in STEM. No doubt the numbers are small and what makes it harder is the general conditioning women have had, that of fearing technology.

5) Lastly; Your advice to our magnificent women readers

The one and only lesson – always take a chance on yourself. I never went into anything blindly; I went into it with open eyes and stared back in its face because I always felt that it was so easy for me to fall into the trap of self-doubt. Every time I have taken a chance on myself, I haven’t felt bad or regretted it, and I think the reason for that is because I went in it myself rather than follow someone else.


-by Mariam Ansari

osakimariam@gmail.com

Author’s bio:

Mariam Ansari hails from the exotic country of Tanzania but has chosen to settle down in India. A multilingual girl with a degree in English Literature and a flair for writing became a social media influencer. At present Content & Communication Head for UNIMO.

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