WHY SHOULD BOYS HAVE ALL THE FUN?
Women of today are not afraid of taking up jobs that they were earlier not very comfortable in. Deebashree Mohantytalks to a few self-made entrepreneurs who tell you that women make better managers than their male counterparts. A report
We are here to prove ourselves in this man’s world — is the slogan that women entrepreneurs are chanting these days. These are women who were passionate about their career and wanted to make a difference in their lives. “Nowadays women are no less. That is a thought that guided me through the tough times that I faced during my work. Many a times, I was told that ‘I couldn’t open my own business’ and even if I managed to do so, I wouldn’t be able to sustain it on my own. With the website services provided by Google, I am glad I proved them all wrong,” Sonya Suri, Banglore-based interior designer who owns Idesignz (www.idesignz.in), tells you. This website was set up by Google two years ago with the aim of turning dreams into reality by incorporating design elements into homes.
Suri’s specialisation lies in designing residential projects and delivering a unique blend of comfort and style. There are many others like Suri who have set an example for others to follow.
“Initially, it was very difficult to convince my parents and relatives that I would like to pursue a career in this field. But when they saw my zeal to take it up, they were all very supporting,” Suri says.
According to DN Prabhu a career counselor from Hyderabad, there has been a 30 per cent hike in women entrepreneurs. It is a trend, Prabhu feels that is here to stay. “It is good to see young women (average age 30-40 years) are venturing out to start their own businesses. For most of them it is a huge challenge to begin with but as time goes by, they realise that they make better managers than their male counterparts. This trend has also given rise to many women managers hired by top MNCs,” Prabhu says.
We ask other corporate bigwigs whether women actually make better managers and whether the number of women in their top positions has increased manifold? “Yes. It is a positive trend and a good one for all of us. Women are much better organised and are great learners of any skill. They can also multitask way better than their male counterparts. We have over 15 per cent women in our top rung and each one is a tough rookie,” Ganesh Dhanoi, director and CEO of IBZ in Gurgaon, tells you.
If you thought women are only eyeing corporate high profile jobs, think again. There are a number of women who have made strides in a profession that was initially considered a taboo for women. “When I decided to start my own travel company, everyone around me was shocked. They thought it was not my kind of thing. Most people thought I couldn’t survive in this highly competitive market. That was the most depressing part. Also, I desperately needed a platform to announce my agency to the world. The interface provided by Google was smart and user friendly and we were able to set up our website very easily.
“The website has provided us a great leverage and we have started generating sales from pan-India. We also noticed that people trust our company more now that we have an online presence. For a niche travel agency operating from Ahmedabad, we have grown from a staff of one person to a team of five people within six months of operations,” Ankita D Brahmbhatt, proprietor of Aryan Dream Holidays (aryantravelsahmedabad.in), tells you.
There are over 300 travel agencies run by single women across the country today and the numbers are only growing. “Travel and tourism is a safe sector for women to experiment. There will be minor setbacks in the beginning but things fall back into place. This is a good place for beginners as this sector teaches you many things,” Prabhu says, adding that next to the travel sector, the beauty industry is another safe bet. Almost 30 per cent of online entrepreneurs of beauty (products) are all single women.
“There is a sea of change in the attitude of women towards work now. They are aware of their surroundings and of the benefits that a particular job is going to get them. Today’s woman is smart enough to wager all possibilities before entering into any profession. The risk taking wish is there but that is backed with solid research,” Nikita Ahmed who owns a niche beauty online enterprise says. Ahmed tells you that even tangible products like cakes and chocolates, especially fancy ones, has a huge potential for women entrepreneurs.
“It is just a perception that women cannot make successful businesswomen. Personally, I feel women have a vision which works in small business enterprises. They know what and how to do things. They also have the knack of organising things. That works in their favour. Of course, they would need an impetus,” Monika Manchanda who owns a food consulting enterprise (sinamon.in), says.
These women would agree that without the able support of many facilities, their enterprise would never take off. “The Internet has opened a sea of opportunities for entrepreneurs and women in India are increasingly getting online to try out different opportunities. We on our part are excited to offer all the support we possibly can to encourage more women entrepreneurs to get online and pursue their passion,” Sandeep Menon, head of marketing Google India, tells you.
He adds that the programme is designed specially to cater to women entrepreneurs with varied degrees of online presence and expertise. “It starts with building an online presence and moves towards collaborating effectively, connecting with customers, promoting their organisations to then tracking and optimising their online presence,” Menon adds. There are others like Menon who have done their bit to help women make a mark in a profession of their choice.
“Women are opting for training to drive a taxi/ cab. We are offering state-of the-art training to women, for courses in conducting and driving and also tied up with various organisations to facilitate for the same. Driving is now a critical empowerment skill for women.
“Our experience suggests if you train women you actually train the entire family. Besides, meeting their daily requirement, this empowerment promotes self-reliance. We have trained over 1,40,000 women in safe driving practices so far through our Maruti Driving Schools and IDTR network. We are only trying to reach many more women.” Mahesh Rajoria, general Manager, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, concludes.
Indians take fancy to Ski-holidays this winter
As the Indian traveller evolves, he is looking at unique travelling experiences and ski-holidays are fast emerging as a popular sport amongst the young traveller, say tour operators. Madhav Pai, chief operating officer, leisure travel outbound, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, says, "The Indian traveller is increasingly demanding new and unique experiences. Ski itineraries find strong resonance with our strongly growing youth market, always on the look out for outdoor activity and adventure."
Apart from the popular European ski destinations, Thomas Cook has come up with tour packages for places like Whistler-Canada, Aspen-USA, Australia-New Zealand, Auli-India and South Africa’s Tiffindell in the Eastern Cape.
"No doubts Switzerland is the first name that comes to mind when it comes to ski diving, but nevertheless other names like Austria, France and Italy are catching up. But, the dark horse has been our own Kashmir - Gulmarg", said Ankita D Brahmbhatt, chief operating officer at an Ahmedabad based travel firm Aryan Dream Holidays
"While ski travellers currently form a rather niche audience, our luxury brand 'Indulgence' has seem encouraging growth from an audience comprising the high-networth-individuals, for whom ski vacations becoming a once-a-year must do holiday", Pai adds.
As the interest in adventure holidays grow, most tour operators see a growth in demand for ski holidays this winter, compared to last year. "Going by the number of enquiries, we are expecting 10-15 per cent higher demand this season compared to last year", said Prateek Majumder, head, marketing and strategic alliances, Yatra.com. He added that though these are early days, demand for such holidays, both domestic and international destinations, is on the rise.
Domestic bookings constitute around 70 per cent of Yatra.com's total bookings and international accounts for the rest. Popular domestic destinations include Gulmarg in Kashmir valley and Auli in Uttarakhand, while international destinations include Swiss Alps and Australia.
Brahmbhatt said that roughly around 8 - 10 per cent of Aryan's winter packages sold this year are of Ski packages- which is almost double from last year, when ski holidays made up around 3-4 per cent of the winter holiday packages.
Operators like SOTC India are coming up with customised tour packages according to specific customer demands. As the company recently launched its tour packages to Austria and Switzerland, Daniel D’Souza, head sales tour operating, Kuoni India, that owns the SOTC brand, says "We do offer customised ski holidays based on the specific requirements of the travelers. Ski holidays are the latest trend in luxury holidays, a very natural progression in the growth of the Indian holiday market."