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Steering successfully

Being part of an illustrious family and running successful businesses, Sailaja represents the modern woman. A peek into how she balances home and work.

HOLDING FORT: Sailaja works with a keen business acumen.

BEING THE eldest daughter of an industrialist, I took a lot of interest in business right from my tenth class days realising that the nitty-gritty of any enterprise is quite important to make it a sure shot success.

After primary schooling in Chittoor and high school at Kalakshetra, Chennai, I graduated from Ethiraj College, Chennai and then took an MBA degree from PSU College of Technology, Coimbatore. My ambition was to become a doctor but since I could not get a seat in medicine, I settled for management. Since I showed an inclination to be in business I worked with my father. Sometimes many may not be able to do what they like and land up in a different field altogether but one has to learn to be interested, cope and start enjoying what one gets into. This is what I went through and today with hard work and application, I have reached the position I am now in.

After marriage when I shifted to Hyderabad, my father-in-law, Mr.Ramoji Rao, encouraged me to manage the business for he believed that would bring us self-respect. Even though maths and finance was not my cup of tea, I happened to join as an Executive Director in Margadarsi Chit Fund Ltd. in 1990, which was a 100-crore turnover company and was then elevated as Managing Director in 1995.

There were doubts in people's minds about my being a woman when I took up the reins although I feel one should not differentiate between a man or woman. Once Margadarsi registered a growth, everybody understood. I feel that you need to comprehend any business before taking decisions. The business idea of Margadarsi was good - it needed to reach out to people to grow manifold. One has to take risks to grow. We opened many branches wherever people wanted us to and were waiting for us. There is scope for much more. Today Margadarsi has 70 branches all over Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The growth has been possible due to complete cooperation from the staff. The most challenging task was to uphold the reputation and trust that the company is known for. Our mantra for success - at Margadarsi we ensure that every customer is important and give satisfactory service to all customers.

Textiles were always a passion with me. One of the family members was looking after Kalanjali and after her marriage, I took it up. Today, Kalanjali caters to the fashion needs of men, women and children and is the Deccan's most fashionable address for bridal wear. Kalanjali Arts and Crafts houses India's priceless treasures and we do all we can to keep the tradition of crafts alive and encourage the craftsmen of the country.

I take interest in developing designs and work closely with designers, weavers and craftsmen. Our constant efforts are to improve textures and work out different combinations with weaves, printing and embroideries.

Today there are ample opportunities. It is an emerging market but a very demanding one, which means perfection alone can make you a winner. If women can take the initiative, I don't see why they should not be in an advantageous position. Being computer savvy, adept in communication skills and equipping oneself with latest information could definitely help one score over the others. Today one has to read a lot and know more, have extra qualifications and qualities to score over others. One has to add value to one's life and organisation.

Family life is equally important. All husbands would like to have wives waiting for them when they get back from work. Constant encouragement from the husband is necessary (like in my case) and the couple should be supportive of each other. Understanding, tolerance and love ensures a harmonious family. The effort has to be put in and it is definitely worth it ..

(The writer is Managing Director, Margadarsi Chit Fund Ltd and Kalanjali.)

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