Woman Entrepreneur Profile
Tenure and job profile at the current company:
ShopClues started in January 2011 and I have been involved since day one. Currently, I am working as the Chief Business Officer.
What made you choose a career in IT?
Having worked with leading brands like Goldman Sachs and Nordstorm in the US, I had a vast experience in both IT and retail industries. So, starting ShopClues in India was the most logical step for me. The inspiration to go the entrepreneurial way came from my exposure to the best practices of these organizations and the urge to create a world-class organization of my own.
Most important career influencer:
There are many people who have had a positive influence on me throughout my life—my husband, my father, etc. But someone who comes close to being my mentor (though he might not know it) was my Dean of Business Studies at my business school in the US. He was my guide and he saw me for what I could be and not for what I was. He believed in me,
more than I believed in myself. Of the many things I owe to him, the most I would say is the sense of self-worth that he instilled in me. His confidence in me was infectious. I have always seen my grandfather as a very strong person—I wish I had half the strength and grit as he had. He was a paratrooper in the British Army, and during World War II in Egypt due to malfunction of his parachute he broke is spine. When faced with crippling disability in youth of life, most people would give up. He never let his disability come in between him living a wholesome life. Every time I am faced with a challenge, I draw my strength from my grandfather.
The turning point in career:
I have diverse marketing experience across industry segments like retail, eCommerce, fashion and lifestyle, advertising and public relations, and have even managed my own integrated marketing communication firm at Lowe Lintas at the start of my career. I was also associated with Nordstrom in Seattle and Goldman Sachs in the US. However, the turning point of my career would be veering away from these best of breed global brands to extend my horizons with my own venture. So yes, turning entrepreneur would be a career milestone for sure. Even before Shopclues, I have run my own fashion blog based out of the Silicon Valley, US. I believe entrepreneurship gives you the wings to free yourself creatively and is extremely rewarding in a personal and professional sense.
Top three factors behind success:
Hard work and diligence is how I have approached my life. Failures happen to those who give up. If I want to do something and really want it, I don’t give up, I come back. I know I will fail the moment I give up. I have trained myself to take a step back focus on the here and now; earlier I used to get easily overwhelmed with things. I figure out what I can do right now and just do it—it takes the anxiety away and over a course of time I find myself having made significant progress towards my target. This is how I built ShopClues, by focusing on making today incrementally better than yesterday. I realize that no success is ever an individual achievement. There are a host of people, and without their support and encouragement I would not be where I am today.
WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE
Most inspirational woman in India and globally?
India has produced some of the best women entrepreneurs in the last decade. It is immensely encouraging to see the business scenario change in terms of gender equality, giving women their place in a diverse variety of fields. I see women increasingly setting their own paradigms of work as well as healthily balancing their home. Hence, every woman who is making a mark in her field while being able to juggle her domestic responsibilities is a source of inspiration.
How do you strike a work-life balance?
I think it’s all about prioritizing. My day starts early—mornings are for kids and family. At night, I step out for a walk for an hour—that’s my ‘Me time!’ I believe rejuvenation is very important. Music helps me unwind and I make sure I take four short and one long vacations every year.
Did you face any difficulty in coping in the male-dominated technology industry? If yes, please share your anecdotes and experiences?
I don’t believe I have ever felt discriminated against, as a woman. Though being a colored woman in a white dominated industry in the US is right up there in terms of stereotypes. The fact that I have not felt subjected to discrimination as a woman does not mean that it does not happen. People get discriminated based on gender, ethnicity, religion, social status, etc, all the time. At the end of the day, it boils down to respect for every human being, and I will stand up for that every time. I don’t take kindly to disrespect of a person, be it a co-worker, employee, boss, business associates, vendor, etc.
In your opinion, why only few women manage to climb the seniority ladder? What are the key barriers affecting career progression of women?
While women are extremely good at multitasking, I think the key challenge is to manage both professional and personal life with equal amount of commitment. I believe women can wear multiple hats at work and they do climb the seniority ladder—either at home or at work; if not both.
Advice for women aspiring to reach leadership positions:
All I can say is that luck eventually favors the brave. There are several stereotypes and biases floating around what one can be and cannot be. You will never have any control on what people will say or do, the only thing really under your control is you. So, believe in yourself, create your own reality, and remember that you fail only when you stop trying. By the way, no one said it is going to be easy—it never is!
Best books read recently: Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I have a desire to pursue a project of the literary kind, so I would love to explore my writing skills and imaginative capacities by penning my thoughts down in a book someday.