Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
I was brought up in Sikkim where my father was sent by Nehruji to develop Sikkim during the days when it was still a stand alone kingdom before it became a part of India. I have very vivid memories of our visits to the Palace and interaction with the Chogyal (King) and his American wife called Hope Cook in those days.
Subsequently after my father retired we moved to Kalimpong which is where I grew up and studied.
Life in Sikkim and Kalimpong is so different from the urban life we lead in the cities. We were surrounded by the snow capped mountains and the Kanchenjunga range. It’s funny how we fail to value things that are within our reach – when we were young we never realised that we were living in one of the most scenic parts of the world and that people would travel long distances just to have a glimpse of the snow capped mountains and absorb the nature and culture around.
Now as I look back the image of the sunrise in the wee hours of the morning, turning the entire range into flaming orange and gradually lightening, I think to myself how fortunate we were to have lived in this lap of scenic beauty. We lived a simple humble life – with parents who focused on ensuring their children were educated and fed well. We had no other thrills.
I was married quite early in life – 18 years and continued to study! I started working in 1989 after my second daughter started full day school. My first job was with GSA for Alitalia – though it was a short stint. I was soon offered a job in TCI (Travel Corporation of India) where I worked for 5 years. I cherish this part of my career and I would attribute a lot of what I am today to the foundation TCI gave me. My job involved sales and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it and did excel in it. Soon after i worked with Thomas cook followed by Carlson Wagonlit based out of Hyderabad, followed by Kuoni. This was the period when Corporate Travel was at its peak and Indian market was still not invaded by the Internet and Online platforms. Back then we professionals had to rely on information stored in memory through experience and learning – as compared to today where fares and itineraries are auto calculated by the computer. No such luck tor us then… it had its own charm though. There was always a competition on who would arrive at the right and lowest fare.
By 2002 i decided that it was important to change my line – it was then that i was provided an opportunity by Kuoni to join a new division that was being started then – we all know this company as VFS now. My stint with VFS was for close to 7 years. It was a very challenging profile as the concept of outsourcing was new but there was a thrill attached to it. I started as country Manager for India and within a period of six months was managing South Asia, SE Asia, Middle East and North Africa in the position of Vice President and subsequently Senior Vice President. The regions managed by me were the largest and highest in revenue and profit margins. I can attribute this to the wonderful team that I had and their enthusiasm and passion. Opportunities back then were vast in the field of visa outsourcing, as it provided Diplomatic Missions quality time to assess applicants and make decisions for grant or non grant of visa.
Since then, I have been associated with this line of business… I now head Cox and Kings Global Services in the position of CEO and am based in Mumbai. The challenge continues – the dynamics of the business has changed as expected. Being a niche line of business and complex, the business threshold is very high and there is always scope of innovation considering the changing needs of the Governments. We are geared for this and are investing a lot of time and effort to sync with our plans for growth.
Cox and Kings Global Services is a subsidiary of Cox and Kings well known for its tour packages and leisure holidays.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
There are many new projects that I am working on for CKGS now – the gestation for new ventures in this line of business is very long considering the fact that we are dealing with various Governments. These are confidential in nature so i cannot divulge more. However we are always looking for new alliances and business opportunities related to our core business.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
Honestly I have not faced any major challenge to achieve my little success. Yes the road has not been a bed of roses – Hard work pays and I am very grateful to each of the organisations that I have worked with. It has been a big learning curve and it still is. As an Indian, I am proud to say that in our country acceptability for a lady leader is quite high as compared to even some countries of the western world.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
Personally, I think my biggest personal achievement is my two daughters both of who are women of substance and have high values. There cannot be a better achievement for a working lady who has to divide her time between work, family and social pressures. As a mother I am very proud of them… this super cedes everything else.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I think I would have loved to be in Government service – I would have loved to join IFS.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Most would answer this question with some famous names but I would like to state that to me my inspiration is my father – he was a man held in high respect for his achievements and his integrity. It makes me proud to think that even today people in Sikkim know of him as the one responsible for its development.
What does the future hold for you?
That is a difficult question – not many of us know what the future holds for us but we all have aspirations and desires. I hope to continue to work and enrich my knowledge in the field I know best.