/Women In Business: Finding your calling!

Women In Business: Finding your calling!

We are successfully entering into the third episode of our alumni interview. Today we have three of our alumni here to share about how their passion became their career and their memories of ASB.

JAYASHREE RAJAGOPAL : I am a Manager of Corporate Strategy at Flextronics, and we are involved in CXO level decision-making exercises

SARVINA : I do baby and kids photography under the tag Baby trails photography for 8 years now. I love documenting memories for the parents.

SINDHUJA : I run a boutique called “ Rangavarsha “.We deal with sarees and I do both wholesale and retail and I’ve been doing this for the past 10 years. Looking forward to growing more.

Q: Thank you, so we’ll begin with the two entrepreneurs first.  We would like to know what are the certain skills imbibed from ASB into both of you have helped you in your entrepreneurial journey.

SARVINA : So for me at Amrita, we all choose subjects with our calling. So when I chose my electives and subjects, I realised that I had an inclination toward management beyond profit and social entrepreneurship. So, I have always wanted to do a business and the inspiration behind doing the actual project and the subjects inspired me to think of my own business venture as what is a contribution of the business in return to society. There was a spark in all the subjects and the life experiences I had in ASB. So I would say it is management beyond profit and the social entrepreneurship.

SINDHUJA : I joined ASB knowing pretty well that I would not be attending placements. So, I thought I’ll be taking over my dad business and when I joined my dad’s business post ASB, I realised that it was not my calling and what made me realise that was probably my MBA . Because in MBA we learn marketing and everything but we need a place to put forward our thoughts into action. And I wouldn’t say I’m a great leader but I did get a great deal of leadership skills from ASB. It has been very useful to me though I managed a very small team.

Its mostly about the marketing subjects that I learned and also advertising. We had a subject called Strategic brand management which made me realize that I cannot work in my family business and that I wanted to create a brand on my own, that was me, that speaks me and I wanted the band to be me and reflect my personality and what I wanted to do in life and I think that’s how MBA has helped me.

Q: JAYASHREE ma’am, you began as a marketing researcher and now you’re into strategy. What was you’re journey like and what were the things that made you realise that this is what you wanted to get into?

JAYASHREE : So the first thing from Amrita was Frost & Sullivan where I got to work as a market researcher analyst. It was very interesting for me for the first few years because we were putting together interesting stuff covering specific markets. For example, I did research on E-healthcare which covered the entire European region, and I published that report. It made million dollars.

 And we came up with another interesting topic and it was just publishing reports.  Frost & Sullivan also had some consulting opportunities, where customers come to us with specific needs and we provide solutions based on our research done. But our roles stop with that step and we were able to see the outcomes of that report. That’s when I realized that being a part strategy team will give me the opportunity to see how these are implemented. Even now the challenge is there; sometimes when we put out the market assessment, recommendations but at least we know it is reaching the right people. Sometimes we present it to the CXO level executives they comeback with their comments and suggestions. And they will give us reasons if they are not agreeing with us so that interaction is happening.

Q: We have three women here from ASB who want to create a change. One thing that connects all of them is that they are creating changes. One moved from a minor level to creating changes at a major level and the other person chose social entrepreneurship and yet another woman again who evolved because she wanted to create change in society. What are the challenges you faced as a woman in the corporate and entrepreneurial world?

SINDHUJA : When I entered my family business after ASB, people didn’t take me seriously because I was young and also because I  was a woman. So, these were the challenges I was trying to break but was not very successful. But that drove to me start my own venture and pushed me to employ women employees for all the roles in my business. It’s not that I don’t want to employ men but instead to create a space for women and has worked wonders for me. The other main challenge as woman would be, sharing of responsibilities in our home and the solution to this problem lies in finding the right life partner, but jokes apart, this can be overcome by keeping our priorities right.

SARVINA : Many years back when I wanted to pursue photography as a career, there were not many female photographers nor any photographers in this genre in my region which made it a very good business opportunity. But the journey has been a hurdle, considering the fact that my job demands a lot of time finding a balance between work and family becomes a problem. A supportive family is something that helps us overcome this problem. Apart from this our persistence and willpower play a major role in tackling the challenges.

Q: What about you Jayashree ma’am, in corporate it must be much difficult because there you are surrounded by men. It is not like women being entrepreneurs

JAYASHREE : Gender Inclusion and diversity have become an important aspect of a lot of businesses now.  It’s been spoken about even by Fortune 500 companies. Companies really want to take it as a part of it and they are including it in their plans.

But when we look at this gender diversity itself from my experience, I have been in the corporate for almost 9 years now and had to take a maternity break at the end of my second year. Because I had my first son and it was really tough for me because I was expecting to grow up the ladder very soon with all the passion and feedback I was getting from the management. But that did not happen.  But you know there was person for me in Frost and Sullivan, my mentor Vidhya. She spoke to me and asked if I want to get back to work and how I want to do it. Now people are talking about work from home but I have been doing that for the past 8 years. Because I was offered by that opportunity by a female employee.

But for a woman, the secret behind coping up and growing in career is through proper planning. It is not easy on all days, but it will help in knowing that things are in place. For me, Vidhya, my office mentor, has been a great supporter and has helped me in taking important decisions both in terms of personal and professional aspects. And I have promised that I shall pass on the help to several other women out there. And corporate policies are changing and the first step towards achieving this goal is by increasing the percentage of women employees in the corporate.

Q: What is the one message you would want to convey to the present ASB students?

SARVINA : I would say perseverance is the key. Find what you love to do and what you enjoy doing and without drifting apart try to achieve that goal.

JAYASHREE : Choose something that you’ll never get bored of that’s very important. You have to keep doing something for two or three years to see if you can persevere in that. That patient and perseverance is very important. You will get that time where you have nothing around, and you can do whatever you want. You have to get to that place; you have to have that patience. Patience, commitment and go behind your calling.

SINDHUJA : For me even today when I look back at ASB it has moulded me as a human being. So, this place is just not about studies and careers. Because your work-life balance is very much spoken about now. That life part can also learned from this campus. All of us had great lessons learned from this campus. There are days when you know you have someone who can call at 2 AM and most of them are from this campus and those people are necessary in your life. So please hold on to your friendships and make great memories here.