The Indian Government in the year 2015 started Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao with an intention to save and educate girl child. One lady who has with utter determination and dynamism put in every effort to help females in their professional level is Lila Firoz Poonawalla.
She is the founder of Lila Poonawalla Foundation, a non-governmental organization promoting professional education among aspiring girls in India by providing scholarships and guidance. She did her early education in Pune after which she graduated in mechanical engineering with first class from the Government College of engineering. She worked as a trainee engineer, to the Indian division Alfa Laval, the Swedish multinational, where she worked in various positions to rise to hold the office of the chairperson in a span of two decades, thus becoming one of the first woman CEOs in India. Under her management, Alfa Laval India operations grew from ₹500 million to ₹2.5 billion and eventually, she took over the TetraPakoperations in India as its Chief
Executive Office, serving the companies till her retirement in 2001.
Poonawalla started Lila Poonawalla Foundation in 1996, by supporting 20 girls for their post-graduate education, utilising the money she got as a gift on her 53rd birthday. Since then, the Foundation selects girls, primarily from Pune, Amaravati and Wardha district of the state of Maharashtra, to pursue their graduation and post graduation.
For her contributions, she was awarded the Padma Shri in the year 1989, the Order of the Polar Star from the King of Sweden in 2003. Her professional career earned her awards such as Best Lady Executive Award, Best in International Marketing Award, Marketing Man of the Year, Vijay Ratna, FIE Award for Excellence, Udyog Jyoti, Udyog Rattan Award, Rashtriya Udyog Award, Bharat Udyog Gold Medal, Udyog Bhushan Puraskar, Pune Super Achievers Award, Top Management Consortium Award of Excellence, Women Achievers Award 2012 and ZEAL Leadership Award 2012, etcetera.
The Foundation has so far assisted over 4135 girls to pursue their education. In its 20-year history, the Foundation has awarded 8225 scholarships so far.