G. Sree Vidhya, who has stormed the male bastion of providing security services
As a little girl, G. Sree Vidhya dreamt of becoming a cop and bringing crooks to book. She has settled for the next best: running security services, largely for corporate houses. The road to donning the uniform was not straight. Nor was it short. From selling teakwood trees which required interactions with dhoti-clad agents in Salem, Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai to winning clients for a corporate hospital, she went through a slew of jobs before chancing upon her forgotten childhood dream. Dgroup Security Force was founded by her mentor, friend and business associate Ravindra Padmanabhan in 1992 and she had a hand in the decision. Until then, the duo was running facility management services under the name Dialtone Hotline Services, which continued to exist alongside the new business. To cut a long story short, Dr. Padmanabhan passed away in 2001 in a road accident and Sree Vidhya bought out the company in 2003 and named it Ravindra Services Pvt. Ltd (RSPL), after the founder. Dgroup Security Force and Dialtone Hotline Services function as the brands of the RSPL Group. In addition, the group provides temporary staffing services.
With over 3,000 workers on its rolls and boasting many corporate clients, the RSPL Group has become a name to reckon with. The latest among the hail of awards that has come her way is The Woman Entrepreneur Award Of The Year – 2012’ from ICICI and CNBC Network 18 TV’s ‘Emerging India Awards’.
The aura of her success derives from a diversity of factors, which include storming a male bastion by taking up security services and battling huge odds on the personal front without letting it affect her career.
In hindsight, being divorced at a young age and having gone through the difficulties of being a single parent and making ends meet early in life have actually been blessings in disguise. It had prepared her for what lay ahead.
In the difficult period following the divorce, she took up an MBA course to improve her employability. Sree Vidhya has always believed success lies just beyond that extra mile. Until three years ago, she would go on night rounds, armed just with pepper spray, to see if her guards were at their post.
It took some time for her to be accepted as a woman who ran security and guarding services, seen as an essentially male preserve. “After doctor passed away, some men in the organisation found it difficult to accept me as their boss.” This reaction did not rattle her. She says that the ability to ignore unkind remarks is as important as any other workplace skills.
“Avoid false promises” is another must in her book. When Dgroup Security Force was in its early years, a big offer came their way. L&T wanted the group to provide 90 guards. “We laid the facts before them. We said providing 90 guards was beyond us. The honesty carried the day for us and we were allowed to provide security services to the organisation in a phased manner.”
Sree Vidhya believes success takes away as many good things as it gives. “I have begun to take a philosophical view of life,” says Sree Vidhya, who is 47. Talks, books and gatherings centred on the themes of history, spirituality and nostalgia appeal to her. She is part of the Nostalgic Tamil Song Singing Group (NTSSG), which meets on weekends to sing old hits.
There is a comfort in looking back on the past through songs and personal memories. No matter how difficult it was, the past can be a balm when you have triumphed against odds.