March 4, 2019
Don or Damsel? It’s the art of Womanhood!
People call her ‘Lady Don’, but she is a queen of hearts. A compelling force to be reckoned with, she is nothing but a woman who has both the will and acumen to rule the corporate world. Meet Business Head, JSL Lifestyle Ltd, Pushpa Chowdhary who is smashing the glass ceiling to dispel not one but many myths around feminism and absolute patriarchy; she is an equilibrium that all men and women wish to attain!
Q. Life, As We Know It, Is Not Very Cushy For Ambitious Women, Especially In India. What Has Your Journey Been Like?
My journey has been really interesting. It has all the bitter-sweet compost that makes for an inspiring story. Born as a Major General’s youngest of four children, I lived a nomadic life. I could never really settle down in one place in any phase of my childhood, since the next destination was always uncertain. I grew up to embrace the hardships and the novelty that each of my father’s postings offered. Consequently, this flexibility to adapt became the ace trait in my personality.
The ripple effect is evident if we trace my journey backwards. For instance, I changed 4 schools; tried my hands at many sports and excelled at Badminton with state level accolades. I’ve been a keen debater and won various awards at school level, and I was a school ‘prefect’. I studied Science during graduation and Human Resources during MBA, but ended up being a sales professional. Switched five industries to become an entrepreneur. And when my own venture was touching the sky, I joined the Jindals. Not just this, in order to get the gist of complexities in and around human relations, I studied and practiced Hypnotherapy, Neuro-liguistic Programming and Firo-B (fundamental interpersonal relations orientation-behaviour) but the thirst to do more hasn’t been quenched yet.
Q. What Have Been The Major Challenges While You Were Moving Up The Career Ladder?
Well, challenges are a way of life. My two-decade long professional journey had me face insurmountable challenges. Be it my first job at Amex or a taxing role at Samsung, I had an uphill climb, all by myself. I couldn’t get enough of my days at Samsung, where I was the only girl in the consumer durables industry. When I say the only girl, I was literally the only one in the whole industry, out in the field, selling products to the dealer network. Though there was another girl in Philips, but by the time I joined her league, she had left. The channel partners’ network I was handling was in the eastern part of Delhi. I still remember wandering in the streets of Shahdra, Dariya Ganj and some places I never knew existed until I joined Samsung. And there were days when I, amidst a crowd of hundreds of men, had to wait till 9 in the night, to meet our dealers and finalize the order booking. Seeing my aggression and determination, some of my dealers started calling me ‘Jhansi ki Raani’, for they knew I won’t leave, until I got the bookings I wanted. Today, when I recall those days, I get shivers down my spine! How did I do it? Leaving the dealer’s site at 10 in the night, wasn’t it always unsafe for us?
Q. How About Your Family? Have They Always Been Supportive?
This way, I am quite fortunate. In fact, whatever I am today, I owe it to my parents, every bit of it. I get most of my traits from my father and mother. My mother, even after being a home-maker, has been a leader in her own way. All our neighbors would confide in her for her advice and wisdom. And my father gave me inextricable integrity. I distinctly remember an instance when during our time in Sikkim, someone came to our house to bribe my dad and my dad took out his pistol in rage. That man jumped-off his chair and ran like a scalded cat to never look back. That’s how they raised me! What else in support do I need?
Q. You Are A Single Woman! Does Being Single Have Anything To Do With Your Success Story?
Being single is my choice. It really has nothing to do with me being ambitious. You see, I still live with my parents. I spend enough time with my family, including my nephew, who I mentor like my own kid. I cook and workout daily. So, there is nothing really disparate in being single or married.
Q. What Has Been Your Role In JSL Lifestyle? Share Some Of Your Projects At Hand.
I joined JSL Lifestyle in 2011 and since then, have delivered various exciting projects. For instance, my first assignment was Plumbing, and in two years of my tenure, the Plumbing business surged from 90 Lakhs to 3 Crores. Plumbing was a very new business then for the company and it needed focus on every front to establish the market. With a team of two people, we worked diligently and were able to crack leading architects and get our products on-boarded in projects of Amity Group, Oberoi’s high-rise buildings, GMADA-Chandigarh, IIT delhi etc. Most commendable was getting SS304 approved in CPWD DSR within 6 months. We had six distributors in the north and west regions, and our dealer network was channelized in Delhi’s key sanitation markets.
Currently, I manage the OEM and Sanitation division. Here, everyday has something new to offer. We have expanded from just a handful of 8 products to 22 different products today. We recently bagged a prestigious order for installation of bus shelters for the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation. The project demanded a great deal of effort when it came to getting the sites ready before the Hockey world tournament, which was recently held at Bhubaneswar. I worked relentlessly, day and night, to deliver this project in time. Managing site concerns, pushing contractors to complete the work in time, daily meetings with top government officials, and back and forth coordination with the plant, I lost my sleep for those first fifteen days of execution! Other than this, we did a major project for Bharat petroleum, where we installed 150 toilets in remote areas of Odisha and Telengana. The services and timely execution of project was well recognized by the customer, and we were awarded as ‘Best Debutant Supplier’. We have another major project in our bag, wherein, together with Ministry of Environment and World Bank, we are installing prefabricated container toilets in various beaches, pan India. The project has kicked-off recently and we are getting superb reviews. I never imagined that the combination of bamboos and stainless steel could look this classy!
Q. As A Promising Woman Leader, Would You Like To Illuminate Us On How To Mend Leaky Pipelines At The Workplace?
Being a woman leader is a serious responsibility. You have to be inclusive in all your acts. You know people are watching you, desperately waiting for your fall. You just have to keep walking! Trust me, I’ve walked upright all this while in high heels, with confidence and sheer poise. And if I could do it, we all can! You don’t have to disown yourself or your feminine side to become or behave like men. You don’t have to prove that we are superior. Let your work speak for itself! Wear your feminine side with pride; it has warmth, care and love – all we need to nail the corporate world. Do what makes you happy! For example, if I was given all the wealth in the world, I wouldn’t repeat a single piece of clothing! Lastly, be your beautiful self! Become more human and transcend this battle of sexes. There are bigger things to achieve in life.