Equality principle inspires winner

19 June 2005

LONDON — An award-winning businesswoman is attributing her success partly to a Baha'i principle taught to her as a child.

Jyoti Munsiff was named "Businesswoman of the Year" at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards ceremony, held here on 26 May 2005, attended by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Among the VIPs attending the award ceremony were the eminent British lawyer and a patron of the awards, Cherie Booth, who is the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Kamalesh Sharma, the High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom.

The Asian Women of Achievement Awards were established to celebrate the commitment, dedication, and determination of Asian women within commercial, professional, artistic, and humanitarian sectors.

Two years ago, another Baha'i, Professor Faraneh Vargha-Khadem, was named "Professional of the Year" at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2003. (See http://news.bahai.org/story.cfm?storyid=219)

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Munsiff said she attributed her career achievements to the confidence given to her by her parents who brought her up with the Baha'i principle that men and women are equal in the sight of God.

A patron of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards Cherie Booth, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at the award ceremony, 2005. Photo courtesy of Asian Women of Achievement Awards.SLIDESHOW
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A patron of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards Cherie Booth, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at the award ceremony, 2005. Photo courtesy of Asian Women of Achievement Awards.

"The Baha'i teachings have been the foundation stone of how I have conducted myself in a working environment," Ms. Munsiff said.

Born in Mumbai to Indian parents, Ms. Munsiff is corporate general counsel and the company secretary of Shell Transport. She is one of the most senior women in Shell world-wide.

Ms. Munsiff joined the legal department of petroleum giant Shell in 1969 and became a project lawyer in most Shell businesses. She then led groups of lawyers that provided advice to Shell's businesses globally.

Ms. Munsiff is about to take up a new post in Shell as chief compliance officer with the task of ensuring that Shell's companies around the world operate in a legal and ethical way.

Presenting her with the award, Member of Parliament Theresa May said that Ms. Munsiff had "marked herself out in a male dominated arena, which says a lot about her strength of character and charisma.

"She has not been vocal about her achievements, preferring to be out there and doing what she does best."

Ms. Munsiff is also director of and honorary legal counsel to the Prince of Wales' International Business Leaders' Forum. She is president of the Commonwealth Association for Corporate Governance and also is a governor of the College of Law, a trustee of the Imperial War Museum and chair of the IMW Trading Company.

The other contenders in the Business Woman of the Year category were Monica Fan of RBC Capital Markets, Surinder Hundal of Nokia, and Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi of Unilever.

(Report by Rob Weinberg.)