Women in c-suite — still a reality India is apprehensively waking up to. Successful women leaders always remain the exception not only in India, but worldwide.
Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyi — examples are still handful. UNDP data shows that about 50 per cent of the world’s population is female, but they own just one per cent of the world’s wealth!
However, things are looking up. Statistics reveal that in 1981, the share of women in the workforce in India was 19.67 % while in 2001 it reached a noteworthy figure of 25.68 per cent.
SBI, Standard Charter, ICICI, Axis bank and many others have women CEOs. Indian women have also made history by daring to break the mould and take unconventional career paths. Across the country, women are deliberately choosing to switch industries, seek additional education or start their own business. Career development theories call this a boundary less career model and women are embracing it.
Sabina Chopra, Managing Director, Indian subcontinent, Resort Condominiums International (RCI), is one such feisty woman head honcho, who has been making headlines in recent years.
In an exclusive interview with Entrepreneur India Chopra elucidated the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, growth strategy, innovation and c-suite stratagem.
Entrepreneurship is All About Idea and Individuals
Chopra, who joined RCI in March 2017, is also the Co-founder of Yatra.com, one of India’s leading online travel agencies set up in 2006. The entrepreneur in her believes that there is never really a ‘good’ time to start one’s own business.
“You rely on instinct and passion for what you are seeking to do. If you have the vision backed with self-motivation, the time is now. With so many incentives and initiatives by the government, there is a lot of potential for the start-up culture to prosper today,” she confided.
The industry leader with 25 years of experience in the Indian travel market also ascertained that entrepreneurship had more to do with an idea and individual or set of individuals who implement the idea into action. “Today with the world being a connected place, location hardly matters. If you see, a lot of successful start-ups in the past years have been born in Tier II or III cities. With the recent government initiatives like ‘Startup India’, the whole nation is adopting an entrepreneurial approach, giving an opportunity to budding entrepreneurs to bloom,” she enthused.
Growth Plans are Intrinsic to Sustain Businesses
Sabina is a member of RCI’s senior leadership team and leads the execution of strategic priorities for the Indian market. She is responsible for driving business growth and delivering on-going value to RCI members and affiliates in India. According to her a growth plan, be it organic growth or investment led growth, is quite essential for an enterprise to function and sustain.
“An entrepreneur should have a sound business plan if he is to keep ahead of his competitors while making the most of the time in terms of getting business. Growth far too quickly also is not a good thing as it brings operational clumsiness, cash crunch, compromise on quality and customers, etc. The right mix and balance is the key for any growth plan to be successful,” she advocated.
Innovation in Business is an Ongoing Process
Sabina, who has held management posts at Hewitt Associates, RAC (Aviva Plc), Japan Airlines and Canadian Airlines, also warned that while growth of a company did rely on its ability to churn out new and inventive ways and products and services, innovation should be more of an ongoing, continuous process.
“Today, innovation is not just limited to technology-based companies or any particular industry. Innovation is the way how a company differentiates itself from its competitors. Being obsolete in today’s time is simply not an option. Companies are using several key techniques to stay ahead in the learning curve. They are encouraging employees with various incentives to delve deeper into more innovative outward approach,” asserted the industry veteran.
Review Scalability in a Wide Spectrum
Speaking on scalability for new businesses, Chopra said, “Before thinking of scaling a business, a robust structure needs to be created to manage the demands of business that come in with it. Entrepreneurs, who understand well their business models, their long-term plans and what impact scaling of a business would have on the business model, are successful in the long term. Also measures need to be taken to ensure the quality of work does not deteriorate once the business sees substantial growth.”
For Women in C-suite
Chopra’s journey to the c-suite has been an invigorating one and she brings in a wealth of knowledge and experience with her. She maintained that to be a successful woman leader in the corporate world it was important to hold your own.
“Don’t give up – as women, we are habitual nurturers and often put our requirements and ourselves second. It is time for change, to set our priorities and follow through no matter the obstacles we face,” she advised.
“Build a robust network of like-minded experts and maintain strong partnerships with individuals with the objective of sharing information and experiences that will complement and enhance ones professional values. It is very important to use your EQ to build your equity and connect. It is imperative for exchange of ideas, conflict management and one of the primary leadership skills that will help one become more successful,” delineated Chopra.