Grafica News - February 2017

Enterprising Women Entrepreneurs

Poonam Choudhary Passi, Director - Business Development & Operations, Concept Oven Designs & Prints Pvt. Ltd.

What are your roles and responsibilities at work?
I am a human resource professional with over 15 years of work experience. I have worked with various Fortune 500 companies as a part of their HR Leadership team prior to taking up my current role at Concept Oven. My role included developing and deploying Global HR Strategies and Operating Models, Organization Design, leading HR Transitions & Transformation Projects.

At Concept Oven, I lead business development and operations. I am responsible for managing client relations, ensuring that the production timelines and quality benchmarks are met, and identifying process improvement and standardization opportunities. Training and enhancing the skill sets of our team continues to be my top priority. As an entrepreneur, I have to be on a watch for areas for improvement in all segments of our business.

Leaving Hardcore HR, why did you join family business?
I haven't left HR. I have an enhanced role with responsibilities beyond HR in an entrepreneurial venture in a different industry. Taking up a role with Concept Oven was neither out of passion nor compulsion. It was a well thought through career decision. My husband, Gaurav, founded Concept Oven in 2013, during the time I was in the process of changing jobs. He recommended that I consider a role with Concept Oven. He thought that we could utilize my skills and experience to build a team and a culture that promotes performance, process standardization and efficiency. For me, it was an opportunity to diversify my skills, learn more about working in an entrepreneurial setup and a new industry

Did you face any difficulties initially in this new venture?
Concept Oven is a design studio with an in-house manufacturing unit. Quality printing is the backbone of our products. Unfortunately, the printing industry is largely an unorganized sector with very little focus on quality and safety.

Like any other start-up, we too had our share of challenges such as: Recruiting literate employees, who are willing to learn and comply with the defined processes, quality and safety standards; Getting clients and vendors onboard with the standardized processes and ensuring that they provide inputs and raw materials timely and in accordance with the defined processes.

What is your favourite job in screen printing?
I have learnt that screen making is the most critical aspect of screen printing. Experimenting with multiple combinations of inks and special effects to enhance the look and feel of a design is what I enjoy the most.

Your thoughts on “Employ and empower women” in printing industry:
Globally, the printing industry is largely dominated by male workforce. You may find women working in graphic designing departments or in general administration but very few as operators.

There are historical references that women entrepreneurs have been contributing to the printing industry since the 15th century. Surprisingly, centuries later we are yet to create substantial job opportunities for women in this industry.

In my opinion, there is a huge potential to diversify the workforce in the printing industry. We need to change our mindsets and look beyond the stereotypical work culture. The focus should be on providing safe and refined work environment, effective training and equal pay to women.

At Concept Oven, we have had great experience and success with our women employees. We recruited and deployed women on jobs that are traditionally done by men. About 80% of our team comprises women with no prior work experience or knowledge of printing. With the right training and equal pay they make an efficient and a very stable workforce. They are fast learners, have an eye for detail and execute jobs efficiently. Our quality and efficiencies have improved substantially and the attrition rates are low; we couldn't have asked for more.

Your views about “Beti Bachao, Beti Padao” campaign:
I don't think this is just a political slogan. This is an ideology that needs to penetrate our culture. Unfortunately the bias is so deep rooted in our culture that a girl child is often denied the basic human right to education or even worse, to live. For us to progress as a country and a culture, we must create and offer equal opportunities to all, including women. A society can't thrive on contributions just from men; we need women to be active contributors as well.

Education empowers women to contribute more actively to their families and the society in general. Most illiterate women seeking financial independence end up with low paying temporary or seasonal jobs in unorganized sectors. The constant hunt for another job and lack of education prevents them from building specialized skills, evolving socially and progressing economically.

How to strike a balance between work and home?
While planning and prioritization is important, it is the discipline to follow through commitments that makes it work. It is important to follow a routine and ensure that your day is as predictable as possible.

Identify what matters the most to you professionally and personally. Ensure that you build in time for what matters the most by minimizing the mundane and non value add activities. For e.g by moving closer to my workplace I save 3 hours of travel time in a day, not watching TV, delegating administrative tasks at work and household errands to a domestic help gets another 4-5 hours back in my day.

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