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Parents-to-be at technology firms should be a happy bunch. In the last four months, at least six tech companies – Accenture Plc., Flipkart Ltd, Adobe Systems Inc., Inmobi, Netflix Inc. and Microsoft Corp. -- have increased benefits for new mothers and fathers. Intel India, where one in five employees is a woman, joined the pack, increasing maternity and paternity leaves. The company said it has increased maternity leave from 84 days to 150; adding new mothers will be entitled to work part-time on full pay for up to one month after they return to work. Not to leave fathers behind, Intel increased paternity leave from five days to 10. “Diversity and inclusion are key business imperatives at Intel. Our corporate business principles, policies and strategic initiatives are designed to further develop and retain our diverse workforce,” Mr. Kumud Srinivasan, president, Intel India, said in a statement. The government is planning to double mandatory maternity leave from 12 weeks to 24. Why are companies, especially technology firms, queuing up to address the issue all of a sudden? “The tech sector has been ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative policies. Also, the sector that is facing the biggest pinch (with respect to talent crunch), reacts faster,” said Shachi Irde, executive director of Catalyst India, a research organization for gender diversity. Irde points out that more women tend to stick to their companies than men -- 36% of women stayed at the same company against just 21% men, according to a 2014 Catalyst report. “So, it pays off for companies to have policies to   improve their retention as it has a direct impact on their bottom line.”

Cost of a 'bad hire' to an organisation is five times such an employee's annual salary and, hence, companies should focus on hiring the right talent to mitigate business risks, says a report. According to the report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), hiring the wrong candidate can prove to be a costly affair because every employee in an organisation has a big impact on performance, company culture and its success. "The cost of a bad hire to an organisation is five times the bad hire's annual salary," SHRM said, adding that an elaborate screening process before hiring is a crucial task faced by many organisations today. "The future of any organisation solely depends on the kind of employees the organisations have and that makes screening a crucial aspect of the overall hiring process," SHRM India CEO Ms. Achal Khanna said. It has been observed that by recruiting right candidates, organisations have achieved success and growth and that has contributed substantially in brand building. "There is a need for flexible and tailored screening solutions for candidates before hiring by any organisation," said Mr. Edward Hickey, managing director-APAC of HireRight, an employment background screening provider. The report further said that there should be in-depth interviews soon after a new employee has joined to understand his expectations and the firm should also make use of informal gatherings and social media to make the prospective hire a part of the system even before he/she has actually joined.

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The information technology services and consulting major Accenture India has set an example for other IT conglomerates. In first-of-its-kind initiative, it has extended maternity leave benefits to five months of paid leave from 12 weeks. Not only this, women employees will also be entitled to an additional maternity leave of four weeks paid leave if there is an illness directly related to mother's pregnancy. The policy came in effect from May 1. Managing Director, Human Resources for Accenture in India, Mr.Parag Pande said the benefits are for both, full-time and part-time employees. "We are focused on hiring, retaining and advancing women at every level. Extending maternity leave will help women in our workforce continue to pursue their career goals while raising a family," said Mr.Pande. Moreover, if employees want additional time beyond the maternity leave but do not have enough accrued vacation leave can apply for unpaid leave of absence for a further 12 weeks, taking the total permissible leave period to nine months. Under its new recruiting goal, Accenture further plans to have women comprise at least 40% of their new global hires by the end of fiscal 2017. Presently, 1, 15,000 women comprise 36% of their global workforce in 30 countries. The company also offers a slew of programmes like career guidance for new parents, parents at work programme to assist women employees during maternity to remain in the workforce, etc."The many programmes we offer will enable women in our company to make a smoother transition back to the workforce after having a child. These initiatives will go a long way in helping us continue to recruiting and retaining the best talent," said Mr. Pande.

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An award-winning successful scientist, a dancer and a loving mother; here is all you need to know about Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia who received the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment category. Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia receives the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment category, for her seminal work in tissue engineering and disease detection, including the cultivation of functional liver cells outside of the human body, and for her passion in promoting the advancement of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields

The award, which was announced on the 23rd of April 2015, includes an unrestricted prize of $ 250,000. Says an official release from the Heinz Foundation, “The Heinz Awards pay tribute to the memory of the late U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III.”
On hearing about the award, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia said, “I’m hopeful that the visibility associated with this award can inspire young girls by showing them what a rewarding profession — and life — STEM can yield.” Bhatia will receive her award on May 13, 2015 at a ceremony in Pittsburgh.
Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia is currently Director, Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies (LMRT) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the John J. and Dorothy Wilson Professor at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).
She is a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology, and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, a senior member of the Broad Institute, and a Biomedical Engineer at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

How did Dr. Bhatia come to take up a career in Science?

When Bhatia was 16 years old, her father took her to visit a friend in the bio-engineering lab at MIT. 

My dad brought me to see the lab, and it really captured my imagination. I grabbed onto the idea that instrumentation and devices could be useful for human health.” Bhatia attended Brown University, where she studied bio-medical engineering. Serendipity struck during her junior year: “I was walking by a lab at the medical school and the sign on the door said ‘Artificial Organs.’ I thought that sounded cool, and I eventually worked up the guts to knock on the door and beg them to let me intern for the summer. They did, and it became my field.” “I grew up in a family of Indian immigrants, my parents emigrated from India to Boston. My father was an engineer and my mother was one of the first women to receive and MBA in India. My parents were really involved in what I would be when I grew up. The only question was whether I would be a doctor, an engineer or an entrepreneur. The joke in my family now is that ultimately I ended up becoming all three.” 

The formative years:

As a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Bhatia was assigned the task of cultivating living liver cells in a petri dish, an endeavor that had been attempted unsuccessfully for many years. After three years of effort, a visit to a microfabrication facility—where students laid circuits out on silicon chips—inspired Dr. Bhatia to experiment with the process to see if it could be used to “print” tiny liver cells on plastic. The result was the first human “micro-liver”, a miniature model organ that makes it possible to test drug reactions efficiently and predictively, and could eventually lead to an artificial human liver. Micro-livers are now used by dozens of bio-pharmaceutical companies and are being developed as a powerful laboratory tool for testing cures for malaria, specifically the testing of drugs that can eradicate the reservoir of parasites that remain in the liver even after a patient’s symptoms subside.

Over the years, Dr. Bhatia’s MIT laboratory has also made singular strides in developing simple, affordable cancer screening tools. One uses tiny particles or nanoparticles to create biomarkers for cancer in urine samples on paper strips; the other is a “cancer-detecting yogurt,” containing engineered probiotic bacteria. 

KEYs: Keys to Empowering Youth

While a graduate student at MIT, Bhatia helped start Keys to Empowering Youth (KEYs), a program that was aimed to instill middle school girls with curiosity about science and engineering through hands-on activities and mentorship from MIT students. This outreach organization was established in 1993. - 

Awards and Accolades:

Amongst the many awards and Accolades, Dr. Bhatia has received in her glittering career so far, here are a few: Bhatia has been recognized as one of the “the nation’s most promising young professors in science and engineering” by the Packard Foundation. In 2003, she was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35. She was also named a “Scientist to Watch” by The Scientist in 2006 and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 2008. Forbes named her one of 18 Indian scientists – across all nations – who are “changing the world” and “one of the 100 most creative people in business” by Fast Company. In 2014, Dr. Bhatia was awarded the $ 500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize. -

Bhatia’s enthusiasm for her work is obvious as she speaks animatedly about the wonder of the liver, the organ she learned to love as a graduate student in the lab of tissue engineer Mehmet Toner at Massachusetts General Hospital. The pinkish-brown triangle, weighing between 1.44 to 1.66 kg, carries out more than 500 functions in the human body, including removing toxins, generating energy, storing vitamins and minerals, and helping to regulate fats and sugars in the bloodstream. As a biotech engineer and medical researcher at MIT, Dr. Bhatia also works as an inventor, entrepreneur, and professor. She recently invented a paper urine test (similar to a pregnancy test) to detect cancer in poor countries, where few people are screened for common cancers. Her work to provide underdeveloped countries with cost-effective solutions.

Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia and her husband Dr. Jagesh V Shah, who is an Associate Professor at the Department of Systems Biology at the Harvard Medical School, have two daughters, aged 6 and 9. On spending time with her daughters, Bhatia says, “I decided to work from home one day a week, which is Wednesdays; we call this ‘Mommy Day.
Dr. Bhatia’s achievements extend far beyond her academic publications, besides being an advocate for women in engineering and a co-founder of two bio-tech companies. Bhatia grew up learning classical Indian dance; she even had a formal professional dance debut, an Arangetram.

She adds, “Dancing was a big part of my life. I don’t perform anymore, but my two little daughters have just started.”

- Dr. Bhatia hopes to share with her daughters a curiosity for the way the world works. It is not just her own children that Bhatia hopes to inspire, though; she is widely recognized as an advocate for youth in STEM fields. Bhatia is a charismatic inventor who is passionate about changing the world with technology and through the mentorship of future scientists. Bhatia is intent on crafting a supportive and sustaining environment for herself and the members of her lab. Curiosity, innovation, and a drive to improve human health are prized. So too are time and energy to spend outside the lab. “I want this to be a happy little oasis, a place where everyone wants to come,” she says of the scientific community she oversees, at her Howard Hughes Medical Institute office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She and her over 150 trainees have contributed to more than 40 issued or pending patents and launched 10 biotechnology companies with 70+ commercial products at the intersection of medicine and miniaturization. 

Social networking site Facebook will now have an employee from the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi. After trying - and failing - to recruit students from the institute last year, Facebook came back to the campus this year and chose 21-year-old Mr.Ankur Dahiya, a student of computer science engineering. Mr.Dahiya's annual salary package is around Rs. 65 lakh. This is the first time that Facebook has recruited a student from IIT-Delhi. The social networking giant had hired a student from IIT-Chennai last year. The company, started in February 2004, has scouted for talent at many other IIT campuses in India this year. Unlike last year when it hired only two students from India, Facebook is eyeing the country as a talent hub this time around. Mr.Dahiya will be placed in Palo Alto, California as a programmer after he finishes his course next year.

Source HT

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