Superwomen in the Safety and Security Segment
Mr. N. K. Gupta CEO & Group Editor of Kings Expomedia Ltd. Speck to Ms. Alka Joshi
Women have proved time and again that when it comes to industry and enterprise, they can easily hold their own- and even excel -in what is deemed as a man's world. The safety and security segment too has its share of representation from the fairer sex- be it in the shape of women fire fighter units or marketing achievers in the safety and security arena such as the superwoman we spoke to recently.
That superwoman is Alka Joshi of Prolite Autoglo Ltd. who has walked shoulder to shoulder with her husband Harsha Joshi (CEO and founder of the company) and helped grow the business not just within the country but way beyond its shores.
Q. Alkaji, when did you first decide to find time from your busy schedule as a housewife and mother to assist your husband in the difficult business of marketing Prolite's products and what is the secret of your success?
I hail from a traditional background and was earlier content in assuming my role as a home maker which is a tough task by itself. However, as I observed the activities and growth of Prolite and my husband's commitment I too wanted to be a part of it and hence willingly took up the additional responsibilities as a challenge.
Prolite as a brand has grown because of the sincere and honest efforts of our team in offering genuine quality and services. Therefore, the real secret of my success is the credibility that the company brings to the table. I believe when you live your dream honestly, success is assured in any endeavor.
Q. As a lady entrepreneur in essentially a male dominated business segment, what were the challenges you faced and how did you deal with them?
It is a fact of life that we live in a patriarchal society, particularly in India where traditions are very close to the heart of people. However, the new age woman has certainly come out of her shell as is proved by Mary Kom, Sania Mirza or entrepreneurs like Indira Nooyi who is an Indian American Tamil business executive ranked among the world's 100 most powerful women, serving as chairman of PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue, and as CEO for 13 years from 2006-2019 .
I certainly raised a few eyebrows when I began venturing out to represent my company and its product ranges but by and by, I have fitted in and earned respect and acceptability just as any man could have.
Q. Would you say that it was easier for you to negotiate contracts and secure orders as you brought greater credibility to the negotiating table being a woman or would a man have done as well or better in the cut throat market which, by now, you probably know like the back of your hand?
If you are confident in what you stand for, your approach and body language registers in the eyes of people automatically. With the Prolite brand behind me I did not need to create and manufacture my reasoning when I went out to market my stuff. Certainly, as a woman people initially do appear a bit guarded in their critique of what I had to offer. However, when it comes to sealing a deal, the gloves come off and in the end the best man-or woman- wins.
Q. What targets have you set for yourself and your company going ahead from here and how do you propose to achieve those targets?
Success also brings newer and greater responsibilities. We have seen recently that in our country fire accidents have actually spiked. The ESIC hospital fire, the Arpit Hotel fire and so many others are happening in big cities. In February alone, Delhi and Noida have seen 4 major fire accidents within barely a couple of weeks.
As a responsible entrepreneur marketing exigency and safety material, I realize that we have certainly not done enough to curb fires and the losses of precious lives as we should have. I believe that here on, rather than being satisfied in selling our products and counting the cash, I would venture to spread awareness and education among the common people, as also our clients, so that they know the worth of the products we sell and are able to make correct use of the same when the need arises. Prolite already does awareness programs from time to time to educate and update people on the importance of preventing accidents and having proper safeguards in place if blackouts, fires or such incidents occur. My aim would be to pursue those awareness initiatives aggressively.
Q. What advice would you give to other young enterprising ladies who want to make their mark in the safety and security industry?
Today, the girls and women are already far more receptive to new ideas and challenges than say, 30 or 40 years ago. But I would only say to them that sometimes, we are inhibited by our own mind and like to snuggle into our comfort zones. I would ask them to challenge their own limitations and attempt new tasks no matter how tough they may seem. They need to come out of their cocoons and prove themselves in any field dear to them. Success begins when the mind is ready to believe. If you dare to believe you can do it, half your battle is already won. The rest therefore, must follow.