One of the most powerful women in a largely male-dominated industry, Aakanksha Bhargava spearheads the three decades old PM Relocations, one of the leading Indian packing and moving companies. Aakanksha joined PMR when she was 21 years old as a Manager. With her determination and hard work, she has worked her way up over a decade to get to where she is and is a young mother who redefines the heights which women can achieve when they are determined to do so. Breaking stereotypes, Aakanksha has led her organisation to a leadership position, metamorphosed the bottom line, returned to work within 30 days of delivering her child and has taken her little baby girl with her on 12 work trips, 2 conferences, and 16 meetings and counting.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview where Aakanksha speaks about her journey with HelloPost Team:
Tell us something about yourself and your company.
I am presently working in the capacity of Chief executive officer (CEO ) of a growing relocation company by the name of P.M. Relocations Pvt. Ltd. (PMR). Apart from leading a company, I love being a hands-on mother and travelpreneur journaling my personal rendezvous with various countries. Off late my travel rendezvous include my journey with my daughter ‘Samaira’ with whom I have taken 20 odd flights including 5 international trips with my new-born to efficiently attend, meet and network with business associates from throughout the world.
P.M. Relocations - is a Small-Medium Enterprise, a one stop solution for mobility needs, with respect to anybody relocating within India or overseas. Our service portfolio includes complete household goods relocation and setting in services like – home search, city - orientation, cultural training, school search and tailor-made modules to assist our clients while they settle in a new home. Apart from this, we also look after corporate shifting and delicate fine-art work moving. Recently we have segregated brand PMR into two domains to support our two different business models.
What inspired you to start your own venture?
This company is the brainchild of my father and mother. Hence, it’s their love, hard work, passion & commitment that lead me to join, strengthen and expand the company.
How has been your entrepreneur journey so far?
The relocation industry has always fascinated me, and the journey has been full of experiences since right from when I started it back in 2007. The journey was tough initially since India is still a developing work-ground for women. The industry and work environment wasn’t really pragmatic back then since the majority of people felt that women should work at home. Also, ours was an industry which was very labour intensive, which wasn’t considered an ideal place for women to build on their careers. Today, a lot has changed thanks to new norms and introductions. Now people in the industry are open to women connecting/partnering/getting work done with suppliers, labours, packers and, in fact, for that matter extremely premium clients as well. Having spent more than 12 years in the relocation industry now, each day comes as an inspiring challenge to me. Having started with 40 team members to 500+ members now, it has been an extremely inspiring journey, so far!
What were the initial challenges that you have faced in your journey?
There were several challenges which I faced. When I started my journey, I was just 21, fresh out of college trying to fit in, understand and accommodate to a new industry which was competitive, challenging and male-dominated.
Secondly, it was very difficult to connect/collaborate and network with suppliers, partners, top clients and business associates since, as a common notion they thought about the maturity, commitment and the length and breadth to my persona. Back then I remember I had to tell myself to pull myself together and focus. I had to lead by example at all levels starting from ensuring competitive and cut-throat stability and growth in sales to building the brand recognition, upgrading the processes and systems with increasing work and manpower, setting up professional culture and most importantly all of this had to be done in a limited resource we had since, we weren’t funded.
Our kind of business is also not based on need creation but need-based, hence having a strong brand recall value is essential along with regular follow up’s and top-notch service at the execution level.
Unlike any other industry, ours also struggles with employee attrition. Hence, we have been careful in hiring talents which believe in our vision and show scope for learning and personal development.
What has been your biggest achievement in this journey?
I feel my biggest achievement till date has been that all the things are going the same as it used to be before becoming a mother. I always feared how it would turn out, just like probably all other working mothers feel so, but I am glad I did not have to make that choice between the baby and work. I opted for both together and challenged doing everything at the exact same pace, passion, drive &vision. I am proud of the fact that I have Samaira always around me and yet PMR continues to grow at 20 %.
What are the things that help you to stay organised?
Well, personally, I feel staying organised should not be a choice or a habit which one needs to practice being perfect. Rather it should come from within. If one finds this calling coming from within this will be a natural instinct which will help you double-up your efficiency and accomplish more.
Professionally, I owe it to my team. I have had a long journey of partnership with them. They are the ones who have helped me in achieving perfect balance at the workplace.
I and my team learn from each other which in turn helps us set high ethics and work practices at the office.
What are your strategies for creating a work-life balance?
For an effective work-life balance its important to:
- Prioritise your work: One of the key mantras in life which can be seen in top leaders too is the philosophy of prioritising your work which more or less sets a base for seamless work transitions and achieved goals.
- Focus on health: While juggling between work and home its important to focus on health for fruitful living.
- Choose things which ignites you: If you have the calling the go for it! Since if your work doesn’t ignite the sense of achievement in you then you would be tired from it soon.
What keeps you motivated through the ups and downs of both motherhood and entrepreneurship?
My child is the biggest source of inspiration for me. With her, I feel all the hustling and ups & downs are worth it. The kind of unconditional love and constant learning and unlearning one does when with a child motivates one to do better.
For an enriching entrepreneurship journey, it is essential to realise the commitment one makes with their employees and clients. There is a constant source of realisation one feels of trust and dependability they have when they hand over their belongings to you which is also their entire life’s earnings. Hence, it is crucial to not disappoint them.
Who is your role model?
When it comes to handling work and being a hands-on mother, then my perfect role model has to be my mother. I have grown up seeing her effectively handle office and balance it with her responsibility at home.
Please share some tips on how to achieve success as a mompreneur.
Being a mompreneur can be a daunting experience. Hence, in order to achieve success, it is important to set the basics right. Starting with:
Health: Often times juggling between work and being a hands-on mother, one woman tends to stop caring for their health. It’s important to nurture your own being along with your child’s
Feel Good: Apart from taking care of your health, it’s important to feel good about yourself. This is also crucial since if you don’t feel good from the inside you would reflect the same energy to others which are a strict no when it comes to success.
Dedicated time for your child: While being career oriented is a good thing. Choosing between a competitive career and motherly duties often become a choice for a mother. Hence, no matter how busy, passionate or career-oriented you are always ensured to spend some quality time just with your child. This helps in creating a stronger and united bond with the child.
Indulge in a hobby class with your child: This one is courtesy my mother. I remember her taking me to my dance classes when I was small. She used to be as much present with me as my dance teacher always enjoying and encouraging me to perform better.
Take your child to work: Today, with an ever-evolving world and cut-throat competition; the lines between our personal and work-lives, have been slimming. Hence in order to enjoy the best of both worlds you could perhaps take your child given the circumstances.
Apart from this, I would like to say that if one succeeds at being a well-connected mother, she is bound to succeed following her passion too.
What’s the one thing that you want your children to remember about you?
The one thing I would want my daughter, ‘Samaira’ to remember about me would be that, ‘I did my best to give her the best’.
Any recommendations to mothers who dream about being an entrepreneur.
Be ignited to pursue your dream and you will find the secret to manage it all.