Speaking on prioritising and planning things in life to learning how to tackle stress in practical life, Schauna Chauhan, CEO at Parle Agro might have had a laid out business for her but it is no joke to maintain it, face the music if anything went wrong, manage personal life with that of professional and deal with all that stress that all human beings experience especially these days when the world has become so competitive. She answered a few questions for HerZindagi summing up a few aspects of her life along with a million-dollar tip, our women readers need to realise and not just read!
Taking over in family business sounds like the easiest to many but it comes with many challenges. Does that apply to you as well? What drove you to keep at it?
It is a fact that only one-third of family-owned businesses actually survive to the second generation. And we at Parle Agro, at its 4th generation and the 5th generation, is only getting geared up. I feel success comes from how you plan your succession and how young you start at it. My father made sure that I was exposed to the family business at an early age. I have very fond memories of watching my father test new products or walk around the manufacturing plants along with the team.
Whether it be going to the markets and proudly seeing your products on the shelves of the smaller to biggest stores or watching your father sit in his chambers chairing a meeting, everything seemed very appealing and exciting to me.
When it comes to running the company, I have many who tell me that I was lucky that it was so structured for me. I agree, I did have everything laid out for me. But, running a large company has plenty of challenges. Each milestone that you reach in your company, comes with lots of different hurdles/expectations/strategies. And as the business grows, you're faced with a lot of internal challenges as well – increasing headcounts, getting a good leadership team together, optimising your business systems, upgrading your manufacturing processes, keeping up with the changing times, bringing about a nurturing a strong company culture, managing your cash flow minutely by not over-leveraging your risks.
However, there's one important thing that I've learnt through my years, which is knowing when to abandon a strategy or close down a brand. If sometimes things don't go as per your business plan you should be able to accept a failure positively and be quick enough to take decisions and divert your resources/assets/ cash flow elsewhere.
How do you tackle all the stress in practical life?
That’s a good question. I find myself getting a lot more stressed when I'm not working. When I'm at work, there is more than enough stress, but more often than not, it usually comes from when you want things to happen within a certain time frame but not all of it is in our control.
Stress also comes from the fact that you have not acted on a certain situation soon enough for it to get to the stage it has come to today. I indulge in a couple of things if I'm stressed out. If I'm at work, I destress by talking it out with my dad and sisters we all sit together for lunch. I also love to drive, which works as a distressing mechanism for me. Playing Tetris on my phone has also helped!
Being a woman on the top of her game with so many competitors being men, does it feel any different? Have attitudes changed?
It does not, and I haven't noticed anyone's behaviour or attitude changing. In fact, I never even think like that.
You are a working woman with a heavily packed schedule, so how do you balance work life with your personal life?
Prioritising is key. My son spends a lot of his time at my workplace as well, doing his own activities, so I get to see a lot of him when I’m at work. I micro-manage my calendar to ensure I get done what I need to. I plan a lot in advance and spend even more time planning on how it's going to be executed so I don't lose time on any of the activities or getting into a mess that I may end up spending my time fixing it. So the short version of this question is PRIORITIZING AND PLANNING.
If you weren't in this field, what would you have taken up as a profession?
Probably a lawyer.
How important is "me" time to you? Any tips that you would like to share with our women readers who are working and have a tough time giving themselves some importance as well?
"ME" time is one of the most important things one should try to achieve. I was having a conversation with someone last month who asked me a straightforward question – “Schauna where is your ME time in all this? What are you doing only for just yourself and by yourself?” And I thought to myself that seems to be missing in my life right now. But its something everyone should probably give some importance to. Not only will it make you happier and it will give you some great energy.
“Me time” is about investing in yourself as much or more time as you invest in your work/family. It's never too late to start!! So to all the readers who are reading this right now, remember, that if we take care of ourselves and invest in ourselves in turn we would be able to take care of the community, family, work, etc. even better. At the end of the day, if you're happy, everyone around you will be too!