Business Case Studies, Executive Interviews, Shahnaz Hussain on Women Executives

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Executive Interviews: Interview with Shahnaz Hussain on Women Executives
July 2007 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary


Shahnaz Hussain
Pioneer and Leader of herbal care in India
She is also a pioneer of Vocational Training in Cosmetology in India.


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  • How good are women as entrepreneurs? Why don't we see more Indian women entrepreneurs? We do have very few Shahnaz Husians, Kiran Mazumdar Shahs, Aga Khans and many more smalltime entrepreneurs. But the big league is missing in India. What seems to be lacking are stories of first generation women entrepreneurs or those who swerved from their father's business to stand on their own. What does it take to create that pool of big time entrepreneurs?
    I think women are as good as men as entrepreneurs. They are not inferior in any way when it comes to starting a business, managing it or making it successful.

    Entrepreneurship actually implies an independence of spirit. It is this independence that women in India have begun to express over the last two or three decades. That is why the percentage ofwomen among the total number of entrepreneurs in India has been steadily growing. Socioeconomic factors have to be considered. Moreover, India is a developing country and the rate of growth in women entrepreneurship would be slower than in developed countries. The reasons why we do not have so many first generation entrepreneurs could be less motivation, less support from family and other institutions, fewer opportunities for professional and vocational training, and economic constraints. However, in each of these aspects, there is a change for the better. We need to give importance to the acquiring of professional qualifications and training, so that women can express their creativity and innovative ness with more confidence. Vocational training should include aspects of business management. For example, our professional beauty courses include business and salon management, as well as client handling, with emphasis on how to make the enterprise profitable and successful. In fact, very early in my career I started encouraging ordinary housewives to open salons in their own homes. At that time, the idea was relevant, because a woman could achieve financial independence and yet, be close at hand to care for home and family. Moreover, starting a salon in a small way in one's own home did not require much capital investment. In India, the women who are educated and have professional qualifications turn towards securing employment, rather than assume the unknown factors and risks of entrepreneurship.

    More than 36 years ago, when I started my career, I felt strongly that women have the potential to be successful in the business world. It was like a latent force that had not really emerged, because of age old traditions that the woman's place is in the home. Fortunately, the last two decades have seen the woman stepping out of her home, to earn a living, make a career, establish her own identity and fulfill her ambitions and dreams. She has made a mark in every field, including the world of business. As a career woman, she has not only surmounted the barriers of tradition and social norms, but has also come to terms about the importance of holding her own in the outside world. What is most important is that she has not abdicated her familial responsibilities and has shown that she can manage both home and career successfully.

    A woman has what it takes to be successful as an entrepreneur. For one thing, while managing her different roles of wife, housewife, mother and career woman efficiently, she has learnt the values of time management, patience and even handling budgets. Women not only have the courage, inner strength and foresight that are necessary to be successful as entrepreneurs, but are no less than men when it comes to intelligence, talents and creativity. For a creative person, the world of business offers many avenues, because creativity leads to innovative ideas. Translating them into practical terms is what business is all about. Today's woman stands side by side with her male counterpart, as far as education and higher qualifications go. In fact, I strongly feel thatwomen can be extremely dedicated and single minded.

1. Women Executives/CEOs Case Studies
2. ICMR Case Collection
3. Case Study Volumes

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