Sources: Central Chronicle, Pioneer and Deshbandhu
Excerpts from a media interaction:
Q. Do different business sectors have greater gender diversity/women in leadership and why do you think that is so?
I feel the society has a clear distinction of how work is assigned between a woman and a man. Hence there are very few industries where there are women in majority. Very few departments in the corporate sector will have women, such as in the administration department or operations to name a few. Occupation of men is seen more in the sales department.
The problem is the glass ceiling for women in the corporate world. It is much lower than men which they touch in few years. Once, they accomplish it, they tend to be in the same level as men or a little higher. It depends on department to department. Their growth may be limited.
The day we will stop having such tags based on gender and empower each individual and trust each other to do different things, to prove themselves, only then we will have equal opportunities and we can put an end to this discussion.
Q. What advice do you have for women looking to grow either their own business or within the company they work for?
There is no substitute to hard work. I also believe in exploring one’s strength and weaknesses and work on them.
Don’t be afraid to put your point across, even if you are called opinionated. Even if no one likes you, it’s a sign of their insecurities not yours.
Women should never feel they are less or wait for a backing or a support system to grow. In fact, every woman needs to become their own support system. No one is coming to rescue, or no one is coming to live your life and understand your problems. You need to understand your problem and work on a solution around it. And for once we need to stop begging people to understand us and we need to stand for ourselves.
I believe this is the only way to grow.
Q. Who inspired you to be a leader? or we can say who is your inspiration?
At the cost of sounding arrogant, I would say I was never looking for inspiration. I never wanted to have a crutch to grow. So, if my inspiration stops growing, I will stop growing too. I was not ready to take a chance with my life. I am like a horse with blinkers on. I don’t look left and right, and my eyes are just on my destination.
Q. We have read/ heard about your success story. Describe your leadership style and how you “lead” others.
At the outset, I believe that being a leader is a great responsibility and not a privilege. Being a leader, I need to have a clear vision and only then I can lead people. I believe in benign dictatorship. So, while I love my people and they are my family, and I stand with them in all their phases of life, I also make sure they are growing and still have their passion alive. Being a task master, it has always helped me and my people to grow.
It can’t be blind leading the blind. If I am clear about my goals and destination, I will make sure my people are too.
Q. The word “Feminism” is too loud in every platform. What does this word mean to you?
For me it’s simple. It’s equality. I don’t want to be treated less or more than anyone. I just don’t want to have judgements about me because of my gender. I am as capable as anyone else in everything I do. I don’t demand sympathy and I don’t believe there is a need for someone to empower me.
Just let me be.
Q. Talking About QNET, how do you come across it and from HR consultancy to Direct Selling. Why were you attracted to it?
Around 2006, I decided to quit my job and started an HR consultancy business, which was my first major stint at entrepreneurship. I was the CEO, administrator, the clerk, and the only employee since I couldn’t afford to hire people. With hard work and determination, eventually I was able to grow this business and establish multiple offices. This experience also taught me that running a business is not easy. I was hands-on and my company was centred around me and that meant I could not afford to fall sick or go on vacation since a lot of money was at stake. Also, all the profits seemed to only appear on paper and never in the bank!
Two years later, I was introduced to QNET’s direct selling business by a family friend. Initially I was reluctant since I was still focussing on succeeding in my HR consultancy business. I tried to do the direct selling business on the side, but I was not really committed to it.
It took me about a year before I realised the power of the direct selling business to impact sustainable change. I had gone for one of QNET’s international conventions where I had the opportunity to attend their training programmes, interact with other distributors from around the world, and explore various products. I came back home from the convention with a totally different mindset. I was energised and motivated to give this business my all. I came back and closed down my HR business. From that day on, I decided to give QNET my 100 per cent.
I had to work very hard for four long years before experiencing any form of success with QNET. By 2012, I decided to move to Dubai to expand the business internationally. For the next one year I was constantly traveling between India and Dubai. By 2014 the team in India was becoming self-reliant and I didn’t have to oversee things regularly and was able to properly shift to Dubai and focus on the international business.
Q. How you are contributing in upliftment to the women’s sector? Has it been difficult being a woman in this business?
There are two different areas related to women I am working with. One is the underprivileged section who are not educated and don’t have enough resources. We give them free education and help develop their skills to be independent through various initiatives.
The other area conforms to the women in my business/team. They get all my attention and time. As I feel this is what we want. We don’t want bigger solutions and strategies. We just want to pour our heart out and someone who can listen to us without any judgement.
Answering your next question – It wasn’t difficult for me to do or grow the business because of my gender. Thankfully, I am in an industry which believes in more women coming forward and being successful. I am just doing my work and I am focused on my goals. I don’t even know if there’s anyone who is trying to pull me down because I am a woman or not liking my growth or if anyone is against me. They are not my focus. They are irrelevant to me. My focus is my final destination.
Q. One of the challenges many of the women in this business face is lack of family support or pressures of family commitments that prevent them from focusing properly on networking. What is your advice for them?
As I said earlier, don’t wait to be rescued. Don’t wait for a support system. Be your own support system.
Women are known for their multitasking skills. Family commitments are never an issue. Taking a decision to do what you really want to do in life is a challenge. I am sure if a woman decides, she can do wonders. The way women are committed to their family responsibilities, the same way they need to be committed towards their dreams.
I am sure our families also want to see us successful; they are just not able to see the success right now. I look at ‘Lack of support’ as an opportunity to prove myself that I can do it on my own and once I start working on it, the support will come. I can’t wait for all signals to be green to take out my car. Situation will not always be conducive. And we can’t wait to have support first and then start our journey.