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Cover Story
As Shatter-Proof as Ever!
Women have broken a lot of Gender Barriers in Society, But The Glass ceiling is not Exactly in that List Yet
Issue Date - 17/03/2011
However, Balsara feels that there’s lot to be explored on the international front and areas like direct marketing, and that they are constantly looking at opportunities with a willingness to capitalise on them if only they find the right partners for a particular business. But as far as her main objective for the company is concerned, it is absolutely in sync with the larger organisation’s objective, which is to offer clients a world class service, in order to become genuine partners to their clients’ business. Currently, the focus is on consolidating business which encompasses 22 brands, and 22 units across 9 specialised functions. With such numbers, the task of strengthening each of these units sounds pretty substantial in itself.

“We Want to be No. 1”

B&E: Often we have heard that people still take you as Sam Balsara’s little girl. How have you managed to change that perception about yourself through your work?
Lara Balsara (LB): I think that perception has definitely changed now. I have also grown to that extent. From the responsibility entrusted on me, you can understand that people do take me seriously now. Also, when you have the vision and ambition to take Madison to the next level, it matters. Our company has grown quite a bit, that growth is certainly not attributed to me, it is always a mutual and collected contribution. But most importantly, we have grown in double digits throughout.

B&E: Which are the areas where you have not been able to diversify so far?
LB: There are areas like direct marketing that we don’t have presence in. At the same time, though we have some international presence, our focus of going international still needs to be explored. We are now looking forward to it, but we have to find the right partners. It’s an ongoing process and we are looking for opportunities continuously. Certainly, one of our strength lies in spotting opportunities and capitalising on it. We believe in the fact that there’s always room for growth. So we always look forward to better ourselves and explore into new areas to add value to client’s business in a way that has not been done in India before.

B&E: One of your responsibilities include hiring right talent for every new venture. What were the challenges you encountered over there?
LB: Hiring right talent itself is a challenge. In all communication businesses, the most important thing is getting the right people for the right job. We try to create a good work environment, assign responsibility to each person and create an entrepreneurial environment, so that they feel like they are running their own business. We have a strong Madison value system that involves honesty and integrity.

B&E: How is it different to excel as a woman, more so in the advertising industry?
LB: I don’t think it feels any different being a woman, in the professional world. Your work counts. As long as you are doing your job well, and delivering what is expected out of you, your future is sound. About Advertising business, I will say, we have been lucky to be surrounded by women.

By : Shephali Bhatt


Taking It to The Next Level
As a deft Strategist she has Struck up Several Global Strategic alliances and is Bringing many Unconventional Businesses under her group’s fold

Family-run businesses have always played a big part in the Indian corporate world. In the days prior to economic liberalisation, these business houses were content to play second fiddle to giant multinationals and never imagined of competing with them. The year 1991 changed many cosy business assumptions and rules of the game for family-run Indian businesses. Economic reforms let loose the forces of liberalisation and globalisation, which acted as catalysts for India Inc. As increasing numbers of business houses started adopting global business practices, the glass ceiling began to crack for aspiring Indian business women. “Until two decades ago, women in our family were restricted to the confines of their home and even if they stepped out into business, it was on a very limited scale – such as running a boutique shop or a jewellery showroom,” says Akshay Modi, Director, Modi Naturals. “Things started to change after the Indian economy began opening up to the call of globalisation and for the first time the trend of women taking up business as career options began to gather force,” adds Modi.

He should know. Not only has a female member of the family gone ahead and done something completely untraditional, outside the bounds of family business, but has also been able to achieve a measure of success that even the most hardnosed male member of the Modi business clan will feel proud of. Meet Himani Modi, 37, an iconoclast who loves trying out the unknown and the offbeat. After completing her graduation in Statistics from Delhi University, Himani wanted to do something new, and joining the family business was not the first option for her. “I really wanted to do something creative but coming from a family where business was run by male members posed a big challenge as I wanted to do something different,” says Himani, youngest daughter of U. K. Modi, promoter of the UK Modi Group of Industries that is into businesses ranging from sugar mills to consumer goods and pharma to cosmetics.

At the young age of 21, Himani, fresh out of college and with the zeal to strike out on her own, set up her first business – a small travel agency. With gumption and a fair bit of luck on the side, the business clicked, growing from a sub-agency to become an IATA-accredited travel agency, handling airline ticketing, foreign exchange services, et al. In three years her travel business was able to break-even but her quest to seek out newer pastures, dabble in fresh ventures, kept urging her into doing something new. This time she took off for Harvard Business School where she did a four-month stint for a business programme. Upon her return to India she set up the Barcode lounge in New Delhi, in a tie-up with EDG of Australia.

Her experience with strategic tie-ups has bucked her into stitching up other global ties ups with European brands. The tie-up with Germany’s Merz & Krell, for writing instruments and corporate gifts is considered to be a smart B2B move aimed at corporate clients and institutional buyers. Her latest venture, also a tie-up with the UK-based ‘Exotic Nature’, a visual content provider, is the launch of “The O Experience”, an entirely green concept of hospitality that is spread across 7,500 sq. ft in the Vasant Vihar area of New Delhi. The facility offers an organic food store, café, lounge, discotheque and a fitness zone on its five floors.


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