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BW Businessworld

Grit and Determination

Priti A. Sureka is a key member of Emami Group's core Advisory Team and a Whole-Time Director of Emami. Sureka talks to Ashish Sinha of BW Businessworld on her journey, women’s participation in businesses and much more

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How would you describe your journey?

While in my teens my father spotted my curiosity and enthusiasm about our business and encouraged me to attend the office after school. I began learning the ropes back then. When I joined him full-time after my marriage, he put me in charge of several projects and brands. Being the first and only woman from a patriarchal family to enter the business, I knew that standing up and being counted would be a daunting task, but I took it on with grit and determination. Personally, I find there is greater acceptance and respect today for women in positions of authority.

How do you see the participation of women in FMCG and allied businesses?

I was the only woman in the company when I joined in the mid-80s. Today, we have a good representation of women across functions in our organisation with some in senior leadership roles. The gender mix of the FMCG business has vastly improved with more and more women joining critical business functions.

What are some of the challenges and of benefits of being a part of a business family?

For a woman leader, recognition and rewards are not always commensurate with proven business capabilities and successes. The growth path is not seamless – as it is for men in the family. There is also an inherent resistance to women bosses in business. However, being born into a business family has its fair share of benefits. One gets a jump start in the business environment and can adapt faster and better.

'Women at leadership positions in business' - is that a natural fit in Indian business families?

I wish it becomes a natural fit. As a woman business leader, it’s a greater challenge to maintain work-life balance. Fortunately, I received unstinted support from my family. Mentored by my progressive father from childhood and supported by my husband post marriage, I could pursue my dream with passion, discipline and accountability and excel as a successful business leader.

What are five important lessons/suggestions would you offer to young women professionals?

I would say: Pursue your goal relentlessly; Don’t give up when facing challenges; remain disciplined, focussed; Strive for perfection, learn from mistakes and follow the 3 pillars of success – time management, work planning and effective delegation. Today’s start-up ecosystem nullifies previous work experience. It affords even teenagers the chance to start businesses while encouraging them to dream and dare.

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