Aakanksha Bhargava is the CEO & President of the PM Relocations Pvt. Ltd. She started her career as an underdog at just 21 years old, soon after completing her MBA, and in an illustrious 13 years long career, she has become a pioneer in the relocation industry.
This second-generation entrepreneur chose this unconventional field and has not only successfully transformed her own business but the way the relocation industry functions and is perceived. Aakanksha has been vetted by multiple awards like ‘Women of Worth’ by Outlook Business in 2017, ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the Franchise India Awards 2016 and the ‘Best Woman Leader’ award at the Business Today SME Awards in 2015.
This brilliant entrepreneur is also a vociferous reader and a globe trotter. This young mother has a keen interest in playing the piano, singing Indian classical music, and also playing golf. Her business acumen is noteworthy as can be understood by her impressive achievements and the yearly turnover, which has increased manifold since she took over the business from her father.
Her motto in life is to inspire and motivate as many people as she can and she believes in leading by example: “There is no such thing as limitations. The only limitations are the ones the mind acknowledges.”
The Voice of Woman recently got in touch with this busy lady for a chat on how she has broken through prejudices and stereotypes and created a name for herself in this male-dominated industry. Read on to learn about her inspiring journey.
Traditionally, businesses are succeeded by sons, how was your ascension to the role of CEO?
I am a single child hence, after successfully completing my MBA from the SP Jain School of Management (Singapore and Dubai), I immediately joined my father’s company. My initial journey wasn’t in a leadership position but of learning the trick of the trade by working in different departments just like any other employee. I have worked in corporate sales, marketing and operations, among other departments.
From there on I travelled to different parts of the country to hand-pick my team and scale up PMR over this 13 year-long journey. I am fortunate to spearhead PMR into a well-recognized name today in India when it comes to professional relocation solutions. Not only has our productivity increased since then but we physically expanded to close to 10 offices across Indian.
And grew from a turnover of INR 3 crores in 2007 to closing around 65+ crores in 2020, it is a huge, impressive jump by any standard.
You are a woman in man’s world did you ever face any opposition from your peers and seniors in the industry?
It was very challenging to work in the industry considering not many welcomed a woman in a male-dominated industry with open arms. I have had my fair share of struggles however, I feel that when you have a dream and are passionate towards achieving the same.
You do anything to make it work. At last, one should be patient in such a situation as with continued strength one can fight the opposition and make a mark for themselves.
You joined the business at just 21 years old when most youngsters are confused about their future opportunities, please tell us about the struggles during your initial days.
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 was extremely male-centric
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 cutthroat stability and growth in sales to building the brand recognition, upgrading the processes and systems with increasing work and manpower, setting up a 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-ups 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.
I feel the biggest challenge I have had is to overcome the anxiety of bad news.
What according to you are the top 3 qualities of a good leader?
According to me the three top qualities needed to become a good leader are passion, the ability to empower and inspire others, and the ability to make a decision.
For a leader, it becomes extremely important to be passionate and about his/her field of expertise. A good leader is known by their team, so it’s important to empower and inspire everybody in their team and vicinity.
A good leader should always lead by example and the ability to make a decision and to be able to think on their feet is an important quality.
There is still a dearth of women in top managerial positions worldwide, your views on this gender divide? How can this pressing issue be resolved?
Yes, for sure today in the 21st century many women can be seen paving their success journeys by breaking stereotypes. Earlier women were restricted to conventional jobs of looking after their families or working in the health, beauty and culinary sectors but today women can be seen working shoulder to shoulder in male-defined industries as well.
Girls today are raised to be passionate and leaders. “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” Hence, one should always pursue their passion. Also corporate and society, in general, need to understand this and provide an environment which is open for women to learn and advance in their careers.
Fortunately, my journey in an unconventional industry has been both enriching and exhilarating in terms of experiences, learnings and knowledge. Hence, it feels great to be able to be a part of something which is so close to my heart and vision.
You have been extremely successful and have taken the company to new heights surpassing popular expectations, what is the mantra behind your success?
I feel the passion and zeal for what I do is my magic mantra. The kick that I still get when a customer wants to move with PMR is something which I strive for.
You have a young daughter, how are you balancing the demands of motherhood and running your own business?
For an effective work-life balance its important to:
Prioritize your work: One of the key mantras in life which can be seen in top leaders too is the philosophy of prioritizing 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 it’s important to focus on health for fruitful living.
Choose things which ignite 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.
You were culturally inclined during your college days, how do you unwind from your hectic schedule?
I love to listen to music and tap to the tune of some music with ‘Samaira’. My little one is the biggest stress-buster and she helps me with a lot of unwinding.
If given an opportunity, would you do something differently?
Professionally speaking I would want to Not hire a few people & those I did. However, I also feel that some bitter experiences teach you the most important lessons of your life.
Personally, speaking I would want to be less emotionally invested in people.
What is your message for young female entrepreneurs through The Voice Of Woman?
It’s important to have goals, desires and ambitions, however challenging they seem to be …. And you got to enjoy the ride to these. Sometimes on that learning curve, we explore ourselves and what we can achieve.
It is important to dream and keep yourself always engaged in something that you enjoy and feel passionate about. There is no formula and no set route to success …just listen to the heart …Sometimes the right ways and answers are found there …