Xavier Business School and Xavier Entrepreneurship Cell of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata came together to host a digital panel discussion on ‘21st century – an era of women entrepreneurship in India’ on December 18.
Panelists — Supriya Roy, managing director, Sugarr and Spice; Soumi Banik, managing director, Ajanta Shoes Pvt Ltd and Shaleni S. Biswas, managing director, Easy Note Stationery Pvt Ltd — discussed the challenges of breaking the glass ceiling and the strategies to continue an established business.
“We picked this topic as it is the call of the hour. Today, students should not only think of working for others but also working with others and helping others get a job,” said Manodip Ray Chaudhuri, dean, Xavier Business School, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata.
Here’s what the panelists spoke about…
I always liked to do something of my own, earn and help my family. This dream of mine was fulfilled with Sugarr and Spice. We started with 12 workers and one shop in our garage. Now we have over 150 shops. It’s a long way and you have to go hand in hand to build a strong team.
I looked into research and development and not only the bakery division. Business means you have to run everything including accounts, finance, investment, planning and production. It also meant financial independence and independence in daily work. I like to make my own decisions even though I know it is always better to consult. Nowadays, I consult more. But when I see I’m going slow I take my own decisions. I believe time is the most valuable thing and it will not wait for anyone. — Supriya Roy
I started a family before starting my career. I pursued my dreams after having shouldered my initial family responsibilities. Having started late, it did not feel like a burden. I was more focused and confident. It was not easy for me. I spent the initial days stamping specimen copies at the godown. I feel the challenge I faced was battling the notion that women are less capable in a professional environment.
Leading your team from the front makes a lot of difference. We constantly focus on innovation. In the middle of the pandemic, we have been able to start the packaging unit and have been serving the aviation, hospitality, medical, education and also the tea industry. Just follow your instincts. In the absence of experiences, instincts serve as a useful resource. Don’t be scared to make mistakes or fall but be scared if you don’t move at all. — Shaleni S. Biswas
After having completed my schooling at La Martiniere for Girls and post-graduation from Cardiff University, UK, I directly joined the business with my father. I started my journey with manufacturing units and have around five years of experience in it. Then I switched over to retail in 2019. I started looking into finances and sales. My interest in the business comes from a lot of passion for the footwear industry. It took time for people to have confidence in my ideas and me.
Ideas always come from a void, in society or the placement of products. So, when you know it is the right time your instincts are going to tell you that. How to launch a product in the market or how to place your products, you will come to know with time and experience. Experience has a lot to do with the success of the business. — Soumi Banik