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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    To be successful in the business world, one needs to have a dream and a burning desire to make those dreams come true. An entrepreneur, in the true sense of the word, is someone with independence of spirit. Along with that, there is total faith and confidence in one's own abilities. Foresight is also important, because one has to think ahead and be able to predict trends. This is needed, to know what the market demands will be. A sixth sense also helps, to be able to feel the pulse of the trend and themarket. In thatway, when I started my career, the swing towards nature had begun in the West. I realized that it was not something new, as far as we Indians are concerned. Faith in the healing powers of nature is part of our culture and tradition. What

    is more important is that I was motivated by my faith in Ayurveda and my assurance that we had a better alternative. There was a sense of pride too. This helped me to hold my own, when I entered the international market. It gave me the courage of my convictions.

    The desire to excel, relentless determination to succeed and the ability to work hard are qualities that women certainly do not lack. The woman's ability to adapt and adjust is important in business, because one has to adapt to the changing demands of the market and trends. To evaluate the worth of an idea, one has to have a feel of market trends and changing levels of awareness. I think women have the sensitivity for this. You may start in a small way, but you have to think "big". You have to think that nothing is beyond you. In fact, in seizing opportunities and looking forward to challenges lies the secret of a successful entrepreneur.

    Quite early in my career, I began to motivate women, who were housewives, to start salons in their own homes and venture into the world of business. This way they could have a career and financial independence and yet, be close at hand to take care of home and family. That is how we started our chain of herbal salons. I saw how shy, submissive housewives blossomed into confident entrepreneurs. How they came to realize the importance of a professional qualification and an open mind. Having also employed mainly women in my own organizations, I have found that they manage people better, with understanding, diplomacy and tact.

    Although women have entered every sphere, there are some areas which can have more success in the hands of a woman. Among these are beauty, fashion, clothes, accessories, catering, health and fitness centers, health resorts, restaurants and so on. There is an ever widening scope and never ending opportunities as well. Do you dream of being a successful entrepreneur? Don't stop. It is important to dream. Then have the faith and courage to take the first step towards realizing the magic of your dreams.

  • An ILO report on Women Entrepreneurs revealed, "Women have a proportionately greater presence in the informal economy and in micro enterprises; and they are less represented in formal, registered SMEs." Why is it so?
    Some of the reasons for this are detailed above. Women generally have been going into the service sectors. A larger and more organized enterprise would require more capital. When I started my enterprise, it was in a very small way. I invested only Rs. 35,000/- to start my first herbal salon. Besides, I used my innovativeness and ideas to extend my business, adopting the franchise system, in which I, as the franchisor, do not share in the investment, profit or loss of the franchisee's business. However, the franchise salons provided outlets for my salon treatments and products. Government agencies and NGOs also provide support to microenterprises, trying to develop cottage and small scale industries or the rural sector.

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

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