Mumbai: Dipali Goenka is one of those who walked the rare path of getting married and raising children before making a career debut. She was 32 years old and a mother of two daughters, then aged 10 and 7, when she decided to step out from her cushioned living room and into the competitive board room.
It wasn’t easy for Goenka, even though she was the wife of the $4-billion Welspun Group’s chairman. Her husband had told her, “This can’t be a hobby as business will be at stake. You will have to show what you can do and prove your worth.”
A determined Goenka started from scratch, handling various roles in different departments from purchase to HR to design and worked her way up. Today, the 44-yearold heads the group’s home textile business.
“Women should work. They should go beyond clothes, bags and jewellery,” says Goenka, adding, “Working empowers you, it makes you confident and in charge of yourself.”
She says that work helps women understand their partners’ professional commitments and hence build an “evolved” relationship, keeping them on a par.
Nothing in life, however, comes free. Even as she juggled with the new routine, trying to take time out for her girls, Goenka missed out on her social life and in the bargain lost a few friends. “The price I paid was nothing compared to what I have learnt and continue to learn. But there were times I was tugged in all directions.” She narrates an incident when she was away at Harvard for a course and her daughter got typhoid. The disturbed mother wanted to come back but her
husband comforted her and told her that she should stay put as she had gone all the way.
When Goenka joined the group in 2002, women comprised just a minuscule 2% of the workforce, which today has risen to 40%. Ironically, though the home textile industry is largely male-dominated, the products are mostly bought by women. “While men are all about IQ, women bring with them EQ,” says Goenka, who has worked towards creating an environment conducive for women employees in the corporate office as well as in the plants. “Women also bring diversity, balance and a different thought process.”
What took her so long to start her career innings? Goenka, who grew up in Jaipur, says it was important for her to be with her kids during their early years. “Despite the father — as also servants — being there for the children, it is only the mother who can inculcate culture in them,” says Goenka, who draws her inspiration from her mother, who was the chairperson of an urban co-operative bank and who broke the glass ceiling in a conservative Marwari community where women are usually known to keep to the backstage.
The managing director of Welspun Global Brands advises women to be disciplined and committed if they want to be taken seriously. Since the time she hit work, there hasn’t been a single day that was boring, says the glamorous Goenka, who starts her day early and wraps up late.
“If you don’t wake up with a spring in your feet, the work is not worth it,” says the fitness freak and trained kathak dancer.
As she sums up, “Respect yourself woman. Period.”
Source: The Times of India.