Award for helping others do right thing

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 November, 2011, 12:00am


Raised in a traditional family where women were supposed to receive less education and marry young, Shalini Mahtani has chosen a different path.

She persuaded her family to let her go to university, where she qualified as an accountant. She then became a banker before setting up a non-profit organisation to advise firms on their corporate social responsibilities.

She stepped down as chief executive of the organisation but remained as an adviser to the board after the sudden death of her three-year-old son in 2009.

Mahtani is one of five winners of this year's Women of Influence Awards, organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham) and the South China Morning Post. Receiving the award for master in charity, arts or culture at the Four Seasons hotel in Central yesterday, Mahtani said that when she started the organisation in 2003 it was the first time she had been truly happy.

The other winners announced at yesterday's Women of Influence conference were Salina Yu Lai-si, chief executive and executive director of Water Oasis Group, for success in running her own business; Stephen Golden of Goldman Sachs for empowering women in the company; and Professor Agnes Tiwari Fung-yee, head of the University of Hong Kong's school of nursing and a researcher in interpersonal violence prevention and intervention. McDonald's was named best company for women for supporting the development of women in business.

'This conference ... [shows] who is doing the right thing, how they are doing it, and inspires the others to follow their footsteps,' said Lee Georgs, co-chair of the AmCham Women of Influence committee.

Jennifer Van Dale, conference co-chair, said Tiwari's life showed how women's roles had changed in Hong Kong. 'Just looking at her is the change personified,' she said. 'Growing up ... in the 50s ... she was meant to be kind of quiet and obedient, not going out there and being something, and doing what she has accomplished.'