1. From the dining table of a rented apartment to an organisation of 60+ employees. Tell us about our journey.
It’s been a very interesting & an exciting journey - have practically experienced every emotion that has ever been defined through the last dozen years.
My husband Swapnil, and I started Work Better Training with the idea of making Corporate Training real, practical and implementable. Having been through training ourselves during our respective corporate stints, we felt a huge gap between theoretical concepts being received as employees and the real solutions needed on ground. We also saw a huge demand for soft skills in India with 10 – 12 million people being added to workforce on a yearly basis.
Being young and naive, we took a leap of faith and the gamble paid off. We have of course faced our share of failures and made many errors, but over the last 12 years, we have come to be known as one of the most credible Corporate Learning companies in India. From a husband – wife set up, we are today a team of 60. We train over a lac professionals every year across the length and breadth of India and have built a strong client portfolio of over 350 Indian and MNC companies. Designed on the philosophy of Result focused Learning, we provide blended learning solutions in the form of Live Instructor led Learning and Self paced Digital Learning.
2. This is your 2nd venture, you started your entrepreneurial journey with a travel portal called Trip2Goa.com. Tell us a bit about that journey.
We are from Goa – which as a lot of people may know is one of the favourite holiday as well as MICE travel destination in India. We wanted to build a travel portal that provides turn key solutions to both individual travellers and corporates. We wanted to be the final word on anything Goa. While all of this sounded good and in fact we managed to build great momentum early on, we soon realised we will not enjoy doing this long term. Entrepreneurship – as glamorous as it may seem, demands everything from you. And if you are not engaged in a venture that you find fulfilling, unlikely that you are going to last long. We exited the venture in about 3 – 4 years of operating it and transitioned to Work Better Training.
3. From Biotechnology to Advertising to Travel to Training; you have made quite a few switches. Have these experiences helped you better understand business and people in different businesses?
Absolutely. Biotechnology was only restricted until my education. But advertising introduced me to the world of Sales & Business Development. I found my strengths and what I should be involved in to capitalise on my potential.
Running my own businesses of travel and then corporate training has honed me into a solid business woman. Each milestone achieved, each failure, every time plans had to be realigned, the surprises and the shocks – all of them have shaped me and helped build my character.
4. Do you think as a developing young nation with a young workforce as one of our core edge over other countries, do you think we are doing enough to develop / train our soft skills and most importantly communication skills?
We are definitely not doing enough. But given the volume, profile and diversity of our population, it is also a gigantic task that we have to do good on. World Economic Forum has listed Soft Skills including Communication skills as one of the most critical skills required for Professional and career success, and in turn for the economic success of a country.
So however challenging the task may seem, there has to be serious attention given to this space of human skill development by everyone – government, institutions, corporates and individuals alike.
I must admit that from the time we started to today, we are seeing an increased awareness at every level with regards to Soft Skills. Corporate organisations especially are increasing their Learning & Development budgets with every passing year. They have dedicated people development plans and are driving learning initiatives with clear goals, which is encouraging. I predict that we are at an inflection point and the soft skills training space in India is going to see exponential growth in the years ahead.
5. If you had a chance to start over, would you do anything differently?
Honestly I don’t think so. You need the confidence based on unawareness to start something new, you need to go through the failures to learn and you need to go through certain events to come out wiser and stronger.
I may change a few small things but nothing major that would dramatically change the journey I have had.
6. One piece of advice to your fellow women entrepreneurs.
Do not look at yourself as a woman entrepreneur. It’s become fashionable to say – I got a certain kind of a treatment or I won some business or not, because I am a woman. This does nothing but lead to a victim mentality. Yes, women may not always get equal treatment. And yes, women may sometimes have to work harder or fight more battles – especially on the personal and society front. But the moment you start looking at yourself through that lens, you’re unconsciously putting yourself into chains in your mind. Break free first in your mind. Look at yourself as a capable, strong, intelligent individual. Fight your battles, be confident, prioritise and make your decisions by being honest to your self. Set examples for fellow women who want to make a mark but operate without entertaining the ‘woman’ card in your mind. You’ll see the difference in your efforts and your results.