Recently we got in conversation with Rashmi Prasad, VP-Business Development, Bathline India. What really impressed us about her was that she spent her childhood in modest middle class family from Bihar and then later on became a teacher. As we all know teacher profession is considered one of the best for girls but her satisfaction and thirst for achievement didn’t let her enjoy this comfortable life and she broke her personal and society barriers and became a sales person in the company selling bathroom products. We usually see women selling baby stuff or clothes but we rarely see them selling unconventional products like sanitary ware or hardware. Not only she became a sales person but today is the VP in that company handling 3 different territories. Many girls don’t think sales is an option for them but Rashmi just showed us that if you are honest and committed to your line of work then you can achieve success in any field.
With her story Rashmi would like to inspire several women readers to consider Sales also as a promising career option and not just confine themselves to what is considered conventional career choices for millions of women in India.
Read her interview to know more about her journey and her struggles to gain success in the field predominantly considered as male domain.
Tell us little about your family background
I belong to an extremely simple middle class family of modest means from Bihar. My father was posted in Central Government Service in Delhi and rose higher in level from ranks. He is a man of great human values and principles and I have seen us grow in life brick by brick laid with values of honesty, sincerity and commitment.
We were a small family with our parents and a younger brother. My father despite his modest means provided us with the best of education and did not discriminate against me for being a girl.
I most definitely owe my present status of an independent career woman to this education and the strong human values of discipline, honesty and commitment ingrained in our minds since childhood. My father taught us self-reliance and high self-worth not based on an ugly, tangible materialism but a great human character of compassion and generosity.
How do you handle workload stress and emergency situations?
Stress at workplace and outside of it is an inevitable part of human lives. It is caused by our anxieties and doubts of receiving desired results in a certain time frame set by us. But a little stress is perhaps good as it pushes us to our limits to be even better. ' No stress' can result in complacency which subverts the process of growth and development.
Most of the stress I am able to dispel by setting small goals for each day which I endeavour to complete the same day as far as possible.
Emergency situations I tackle with patience by approaching an emotive and analytical approach towards the situation. I also take my seniors and colleagues valued opinions on same in controlling it.
Describe your day to day activities, priorities and tasks
I am a sales/ marketing professional. We beautify people's bathrooms by selling and marketing bathroom products. My day starts with planning meetings with buyers and specifiers and building up productive data base for future sales closings. It's a simple logic in sales. More prospects, more maximized sales.
Any hurdles / obstacles you faced in pursuing your dream and how you overcame some of them?
My journey has been from being a teacher to a sales professional. While teaching is considered to be the most preferred vocation for most women in middle class India, sales/business was an unlikely domain for women in what is looked upon as traditionally a male bastion.
I have learnt the hard way, when I started in sales business in mid-nineties I was received with much scepticism especially in my product line of bathroom products. Women could not be perceived as selling pots and taps, ha! ha! but probably products like cosmetics and baby products. I even saw lots of companies hiring women to position men's products which was indeed a result of a typical male mind-set universally using women as tools to attract men.
Not once but several times I was advised to shift from this career and I got demotivated many times. But I had also grown to love my job which had given me a lot of self-confidence, stimulation and exposure. This field taught me virtues of discipline, patience, understanding, adjustment and perseverance. I wanted to move on and I did and there was no looking back. I feel proud today.
Describe your most successful accomplishments?
My most successful accomplishment has been achieving a status of great self-esteem and earning great recognition and respectability in my chosen professional field.
What are the key challenges in this field for women and what are your personal challenges?
Challenges for a woman in a Man's World is a plenty and is a universal phenomenon. More so in India where a girl child for ages has been scorned upon. Fortunately for lots of us, we have been brought up in an atmosphere of near equal opportunities for both genders.
The most glaring challenge in the field of sales is to make your profile look serious as being a woman you are at the risk of not been taken seriously more so also as sales doesn't typically require any formal technical qualification like doctors or engineers. So I had to work extra hard on my personal attributes that of communication, presentation and enhanced product knowledge and understanding of human behaviour. Because sales is a result of trust, confidence and understanding which a degree doesn't teach you but your life experience does.
Another professional hazard or challenge being a woman is to build up the confidence of the management in us to entrust us with higher job responsibilities. This I am glad is my biggest achievement, today I hold the top sales position in my company which is into this business for more than 3 decades. I am handling 3 territories and have been given opportunities to travel overseas also on behalf of the company. But there is a lot more to be done, the hunger is to do more n more professionally and on social front as well where I would definitely and most certainly would like to do something for the underprivileged. My life would have more meaning then when I could make a difference to my surroundings in a positive manner.
How do you manage a balance between personal and professional life?
A balance life is very essential for a feel good and contented life. Fortunately, my profession gives me a lot of leeway in managing both as I am not into a strictly stationary job.
Now that I am travelling for work to different cities it gives me a lot of opportunities to meet my friends and relatives. Both are now intertwined and I can't complain J
Lastly what is one advice that you would like to give young women out there who are thinking of taking any profession?
I would certainly advise all young women to nurture their ambitions and strive ahead to translate same into reality. Building up a career for a woman is not just for financial independence but also gives a woman a great feeling of self-worth and a sense of personal achievement.
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