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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

Author Rinku Paul Narrates How ‘Daughters Of Legacy’ Proved Their Mettle And Smashed Patriarchy

  • IWB Post
  •  August 30, 2019

Last year, co-authors Rinku Paul and Puja Singhal had released their second book, ‘Millionaire Housewives’, which brought together success stories of 12 first-generation women entrepreneurs, and this time the author duo have come together to narrate to you the interesting life anecdotes of 12 women entrepreneurs who took charge of age-old legacies. Something with the number 12, hmm! 

But the number mystery apart, ‘Daughters Of Legacy‘, as the book is titled, is a book written with an intention to explore the deeper grounds of the perks and challenges that come with handling the family business. Most of us assume that being born with a ‘silver spoon’ can only make the path to success easier, don’t we? But Rinku and Puja set out to see if there existed an alternate reality, and while at it, also gathered some life lessons and business outlook.

“Our previous two books were on first-generation entrepreneurs, so initially we were a bit hesitant thinking how to go about, and because they’re typically perceived as legacy bearers. Between 2004-12, while the overall women participation in the work force declined, the number of women in family led businesses had been on an increase; our book might have a few revelations to make in that regard,” shared Rinku.

More from the conversation:

Daughters Of Legacy

Priti Sureka

If you were to summarise your experience and phrase the entire book into one entrepreneurial advice, what would it be?

One important pointer that remained consistent in all our interactions was for them to learn to drown out the naysaying voices. And even though it was they entering their family business, but being women, they did have to go through the struggle of breaking the glass ceiling. And since for some of them it was a first step into business, they did have to chip away a lot of stereotypes.

Speaking of the glass ceiling, and it being their family business, did it happen to be an even more hurtful realization?

A lot of them pointed out that when they first stepped in, people looked at them as though they were there only to while away time, while in the wait of marriage. In particular, I remember Ashni Biyani and Priti Surekha sharing that people didn’t just comment on these things behind their back, but also severely underrated them professionally because they are women. It certainly was a challenge for them to sail through.

Daughters Of Legacy

Manasi Kirloskar

Typical patriarchal mindset! Would you share some of their experiences with us?

There were a lot of interesting anecdotes, like Manasi Kirloskar (heir to the Toyota Kirloskar empire) talked about how people expected her way into the business to be well cushioned, but she started from step one and underwent store training like any other employee when she began. Bhairavi Jain (SCA Group of Companies) had returned from USA completing her studies and could have directly joined the family business, but she began with founding her own startup to learn better. Meher Pudumjee (chairperson of Thermax) joined as a regular trainee under Mum.

Daughters Of Legacy

Bhairavi Jani

Bottom line being that life hasn’t been easy for them just because they were “legacy bearers”. And all the more given that most of they are running industries that have always been male dominated, and where customers would often ask for a male counterpart and did not want to deal with them; they’ve all had a close brush with patriarchy.

Hmm. And if you could leave our readers with the common thread that they’ll find in these stories?

Legacy can seem to have a striking resemblance with burden if not given the best. Meher Pudumjee for instance, admitted upfront that she was extremely scared to step into her mother’s shoes when she was retiring. Upon realization of which, her mother had written her a letter that read, “an apple tree can’t give oranges, so don’t worry, just focus and do your best.”

Daughters Of Legacy

Meher Pudumjee

Then, as I mentioned in the beginning, to drown those naysaying voices was a big struggle for each of them. Not to forget, gender expectations. Reading their stories, people will realize that legacy comes with a big risk of an inflated ego, and that had they not worked hard and proven their caliber, the last name significance alone couldn’t have kept them to sustain. They all are aware of their privileges, and yet offer an overriding sense of gratitude.

On the parting note, Rinku revealed, “Once done with all the stories, we felt that the book would be incomplete without the perspective of the first generation, and so we asked each of their parents to write letters to their daughters, and have shared them in the book.”

One of the parents wrote – “As parents we leaned back, hoping that the daughters would do well for them. And the daughters have in turn leaned forward proving to be successful.”

This article was first published on July 12, 2018.

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