“Even though our name does have the word “Indian” we always market our events to all South Asians and ensure to bring in leaders from all parts of the world. We recognize that being South Asian is beyond having an Indian background and we strive to celebrate everything South Asian, regardless of origin.”
“In my opinion through my experience in the corporate world, I think most organizations in the GTA are ensuring that their organizations are representative of the diversity that this province has to offer.”
Born and raised in Brampton, Neeti Passi, the current President of NetIP—Network of Indian Professionals, Toronto, symbolizes the modern South-Asian Canadian woman—confident of her stride and enthusiastic to reach out.
Talking to Generation Next, Neeti remembers how growing up in a South Asian family meant focusing on academics and picking a professional career. She was lucky though as she recalls, “I had an older brother who had already gone through many of the similar experiences I was facing, thus making it easier for me to find my east-west fit.”
A Health Informatics Leader for Saint Elizabeth, Neeti joined NetIP Toronto in January 2011 as a member and the National Liaison co-lead. The idea was to get connected with other likeminded South Asian professionals while also giving back to the community. But doesn’t she feel the organization’s name needs to be changed to make it more representative of South Asians, rather than just Indians? Neeti responds, “Even though our name does have the word “Indian” we always market our events to all South Asians and ensure to bring in leaders from all parts of the world. We recognize that being South Asian is beyond having an Indian background and we strive to celebrate everything South Asian, regardless of origin.”
As President of the organization, Neeti aspires to make NetIP Toronto a name to reckon among South Asian professionals. She shares with pride the progress the organization has made within two years of its existence in Toronto. “We are starting to see a lot of new faces are each of our events, which empirically tells us that we are reaching out to more people.”
When asked what challenges NetIP Toronto faces, the new president says it relates to constantly ensuring that the activities provided by the organization are commensurate with membership needs. To this end, feedback is regularly sought from both members and non-members. Neeti also says, “NetIP Toronto wants to set itself apart from other professional networking organizations, therefore, it’s always a challenge to be one step ahead and offering interesting and intriguing events for our members.”
And what are her challenges as a South Asian Canadian? “One of my biggest challenges,” she says, “is to be seen as an individual and not falling into the stereotypes. It’s wonderful to see that the times are changing and young South Asian professionals are branching into a multitude of professional careers. Moreover, historically, South Asian women have had to struggle to maintain a career while supporting a family, but I think times are now changing.”
Neeti also feels it isn’t difficult for young South Asian women to start a family in Canada, as long as both partners have a common family goal. Given this scenario, would she prefer being a stay-at-home-mom? “I would love to stay at home with the children when they are young, but I don’t think I would stay home forever. I enjoy applying my professional skills and contributing to a household. Even if I couldn’t go back to work, I could see myself being more involved in not-for-profit/volunteering activities,” she says.
South Asian women like Neeti have made their mark across many fields. This can sometimes be intimidating to male members of the community, still conditioned by stereotypical images of women. Neeti feels this has a lot to do with the type of role models such men grew up with. “If they had a mom that was working, then I don’t think it is such an intimidation factor if a South Asian female is successful in her career; however, if they have never been exposed then it’s more of a fear of the unknown than intimidation,” she says.
Generation Next wants to know Neeti’s views on multiculturalism in Canada, given a measly four percent of visible minorities being represented at corporate leadership levels. According to Neeti, Canada’s multiculturalism is thriving and represents the world’s diversity. The challenge with ensuring that the same diversity is reflected effectively at a corporate leadership level “is the responsibility of organizations,” feels Neeti and adds, “In my opinion through my experience in the corporate world, I think most organizations in the GTA are ensuring that their organizations are representative of the diversity that this province has to offer.”
This young leader believes there are enough opportunities available to the youth in Canada. Her wise counsel is for individuals to understand which opportunities will bring one happiness and success, based on one’s core values and desires.
By Staff Writer