I was a homemaker before I stepped into the world of business. When I started working in textile, the consumer was a woman but behind the counter, it was entirely a man’s world.
I made my way through self-belief
I had to understand how the looms worked, how the machine worked, what kind of cotton needed to be bought. I learnt everything on the job because I believed in myself and not what others were saying. I was driven to chase the objective and focus on learning and delivering.
Accept stress but also vulnerability
There’s something you’re always wishing for, and that gets you stressed but beating yourself up doesn’t help. I accept stress as a part of my life. I take it in my stride. But I also realise that we all have limitations and strengths. I can’t do what you can and similarly, there are certain things I can do better. I’ve had many weak moments and times of insecurity but I realise that being vulnerable is important and only human.
Look after yourself, focus on restful sleep
I am an exercise freak. My morning routine is working out. There are a number of things I do to stay well, such as I don’t take any caffeine after 5 pm so that I can sleep well. If I don’t sleep well, my productivity declines. I need seven hours of restful sleep and then, I am raring to go.
And look after your teams
Physical and mental health go hand in hand. It’s important to make people aware about the need for good health, about taking out time for themselves.
Stress is inevitable. The question is, how can we ease it? Is it yoga that people can do or is there someone they can talk to? While workplaces need a flexible environment, they also need to empower and encourage their team members.
Accountability doesn’t come in by the manager making you accountable but by being empowered and feeling a sense of joy and pride in your work. I encourage people to make their own mistakes and that’s what helps create a good company culture.
Invest in relationships
When I stepped in the corporate world, my daughters were seven and 10. I was leaving home early in the morning and travelling for work. Naturally, my husband helped out with everything. He was there to take care of home when I wasn’t around.
I realised that relationships today are not about one being better than the other—they are about partnerships. Both men and women play an equal role.
That’s a message I have continued to live by. It’s also why we organise workshops for both men and women in our factories to sensitise men to help at home. It’s not the woman’s job alone.
In cities, however, technology has invaded our lives. When I was growing up, we spent time with the family, we read books, we played hopscotch, we ran. I think it’s all getting redundant and that worries me. We’re becoming couch potatoes. You go to a restaurant and everyone is busy on their phone. I wish we could bring the old, simpler times back.
Find purpose, find impact
Purpose becomes a big word for people. For me, it’s about can business be the agent of change? I think about what would make me happy when I retire. The answer is I would be happy making an impact—empowering women, helping families educate their children, and doing everything possible to help elevate society. While empowering women is personally very important for me, I realise that inclusivity goes beyond gender. It comes when we treat everyone in the society, including those who are specially abled, as equals.
(As told to Apekshita Varshney)
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