Standing outside Dublin’s Citywest Conventional Centre while waiting for the results to be announced, Punam’s mind was about to burst out with a hundred emotions. Above all, she kept thinking, ‘Yes – it was a long and hard-fought election campaign in Dublin West’. She had visited close to 4,000 houses and met with almost every resident in the electoral ward. All of them welcomed her with warm hearts. But Punam was still in doubt as to what the result would be. She recalled the moment that doubt was put to rest, as TV and Radio reporters began rushing toward her, waiting for her response, as the newly elected Blanchardstown Mulhuddart Ward councillor. That’s how Punam Rane recalls the day of her victory.
Punam Rane was born in Goa, a former Portuguese colony, perhaps best known for its rich and diverse culture, beautiful beaches and tourist spots. Growing up in Goa, where she attended a convent school, Punam was exposed to a diversity of cultures and perspectives from an early age; later she moved to Mumbai, the financial capital of India, which Punam describes as the ‘New York of India, a city that never sleeps’.Punam Rane moved to Ireland during the late nineties with an ambition to establish a career in IT Consultancy in the Retail Banking domain. Her start was in Dublin, where she remained working for over a decade before returning to India to lead an operational team for an American bank in its Bangalore office, during which time she also co-founded Appistoki, a leading technology consultancy organisation.
Punam greatly missed life in Ireland and returned to Dublin in 2013. She had a decision to make about the next big step in her life which she likened to a ‘Personal Value Proposition’. She resolved to focus her efforts on making a difference in the community here.With her focus firmly on education, her own strong educational background prompted her to ask questions about how barriers to access could be addressed in the local schools. With degrees in Mathematics and Physics, a postgraduate degree in Computer Science and an MBA – Punam understood the importance of emphasis on STEM subjects in primary education. Punam began consulting with households in her community. Through that process, she also began to understand some of the inner pain and difficulties carried by the people in her surroundings. Realising that the people around her were placing their trust in her further compelled her to do what she could for the betterment of society.
Eventually, she joined Fine Gael, the party whose principles closely aligned with her own. Her primary objective was to bring a new school to the area through political intervention. She became popular among the community within no time and was given a ticket to the county council by the party. During the election campaign, Punam visited almost 4,000 households in the area. She was overwhelmed with the support of the people, which later resulted in her winning a councillor’s seat.
Punam’s husband is Ashwin Cannonkadu and the couple have a daughter, Sasha Nollaig, currently studying for her Junior Certificate. With being the hope of thousands, Punam has no time to waste and is continuously dealing with the everyday problems of the society that she represents. When quizzed about her ambition, she said she wanted to invest hugely in primary education. She is committed to initiatives to remove barriers to access for women and girls in the technological field in this country and is often consulted by female entrepreneurs who are pursuing careers in start-ups in this country. Given her remarkable contribution to date, there is no doubt that Punam Rane was a wise choice for councillor; we can only hope that schools throughout the island of Ireland might be afforded the benefit of her leadership, before long.