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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
Having proved her mettle in setting up unconventional business ventures and forging smart collaborations, Himani is now looking to take her companies to the next level – from a professionally-run group to a blue-chip company that can manage competition and market dynamics with panache and élan. Even as future opportunities beckon, Himani’s strategy is to avoid entering areas where direct competitors are present. Operating in the B2B domain offers a safer bet in comparison (her B2C venture – Revlon - has not seen positive growth over the past five years). It’s not surprising, therefore, that she is quite gung-ho about her B2B ventures, like last year’s joint venture with Belgium-based leading pharma company Omega. “This one is a unique business for us and definitely has a big potential to give double-digit growth in another five years,” Himani tells B&E. Ask her about her business philosophy and she says: “It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman, as an ideal leader or a sharp business strategist, you should try to motivate people to generate ideas for new businesses.”

“Finding Skilled Manpower is a Challenge”

B&E: Why did you shut down the ‘Barcode’ business?
Himani Modi (HM): In the hospitality business, real money lies in food and beverages. Indian consumers are still too family-oriented for certain kinds of indulgences. So the concept of a sports bar like Barcode did not work. And then there’s no point on continuing with a business if it’s not doing well. We shut down the store and moved ahead.

B&E: Among all the businesses you head, which one is the closest to your heart?
HM: The one that is closest to my heart is the tie-up with Germany’s Merz & Krell, the world’s leading B2B company. This business is all about writing instruments & corporate gifts. Though it sounds a bit weird but this venture has made me confident enough to take up global challenges and has made me what I am today.

B&E: Do you think family-run businesses in India are more biased towards women employees?
HM: Certain organisations claim they are not biased and I really can’t vouch for the credibility of such claims. We don’t believe in making such claims and we practice no gender bias whatsoever. In our companies we maintain absolute transparency and all members feel like they are part of a team. The rules are equally applicable for men and women.

B&E: What are your plans for the Modi Group over the next five years?
HM: We plan to turn our group into a blue-chip company that is particular about implementing HR policies. HR plays a very important role in our organisation. Of course, I had to overcome many hurdles on the way to implementing a transparent HR model. The toughest of these challenges was to ensure that deserving women could enter the top management, which was otherwise dominated by the male members of the family.

B&E: But entering new businesses also means new challenges. What are the major macro challenges you will have to face?
HM: I don’t think the challenges would be that stiff as compared to the challenges when we started exploring for tie-ups with foreign companies. Getting overseas companies to collaborate is not easy but now we have proved our professional credentials and have business relations with many multinational companies. But yes, the challenges on entering new and unconventional businesses like the ones we are into is finding skilled manpower.

By : Angshuman Paul
Getting Future Ready
The $2.4 billion Global Kitchenware company is on an Astounding growth Trajectory in India. Here’s how they have made it Possible

Tupperware, a leading brand in the kitchenware market globally, started its operation in India in 1996, and since then has consistently grown at a CAGR of 30%. Superbrands rates it amongst India’s top 3 brands across all categories and segments. Operating in 59 cities, it’s today a popular business concept (Tupperware is still sold mostly through a party plan, wherein a Tupperware party is run by a Tupperware consultant for a host who invites friends and neighbours into his or her home to see the product line) among urban middle-class women. B&E interacts with Asha Gupta, Managing Director, Tupperware India, who has successfully led Tupperware to become the ‘top-of-the-mind’ brand among the middle-class households across India.

B&E: A growth rate of 52% in 2010, it’s been Tupperware India’s best year since 1996. How has it been possible?
Asha Gupta (AG): To leverage the full potential of any business, strong leadership is a pre-requisite. Tupperware India’s growth curve took a sharp upward trend as my core leadership team got in place six years ago and partnered with me in passionately establishing a business that is built to last and achieve its true position in every Indian household.

B&E: You have been the brain behind Tupperware India’s success story. How has the journey been so far? Any achievement that you would particularly like to share with us?
AG: There have been many achievements, but two of them stand out particularly. One is making Tupperware a premium and aspirational brand and at the same time also seeing to it that it can be attained by the masses and not just the elite. This came about by finding a relevant product offering for the Indian market and establishing the value proposition correctly. The second one is making Tupperware the largest women only network in India with over 100,000 women becoming confident entrepreneurs.

B&E: Globally, Tupperware is run largely by a women-only sales force. Do you believe that companies with women in the leadership position perform better?
AG: I cannot say that for sure. But, women certainly bring several strengths to the table and are more empathetic managers. I also like the way we use intuition along with rigorous logic to support our decision making.


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