“Women should be vociferous about their ambitions” –Trupti Bhandari

Trupti Bhandari talks about the challenges women face in their life while chasing their dreams, evolution in the healthcare industry in India and the need for women to make their health a priority.

“Women should be vociferous about their ambitions” –Trupti Bhandari

A leader with a passion for new ideas and the drive to achieve results, Trupti Bhandari, Global Lead - Family Nutrition, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare, is an inspiring woman. There are multiple facets to her personality – she’s a marketer with over two decades of experience, a life coach, a jewellery designer and a mother of two teenage daughters. 

In a free-wheeling conversation, Bhandari talks about the challenges women face in  their effort to balance home and work while chasing their dreams, dramatic changes in the healthcare industry in India and the need for women to make their health a priority, 

Excerpts:

You have spent 22 years across the FMCG, healthcare, and lifestyle industries. Tell us something about your journey?

My journey has been exciting and challenging at the same time. I have had the opportunity to work with leading MNCs such as Reckitt Benckiser, Parke-Davis, Bausch & Lomb, and now GSK, my longest stint – I joined the organisation in 2004.

The experience of managing iconic brands such as Horlicks, Dettol, Crocin and various other categories in different product lifecycle stages and sizes, catering to diverse audiences with different motivations and drivers has been extremely insightful and stimulating. Leading different kinds of roles and people throughout this journey has been very enriching.

In addition to chasing my corporate dreams, I have managed to fuel my other passions. In 2010, I took a small break from the corporate world to live in Johanessburg. I rekindled my love for jewellery there, by starting my own venture designing and marketing my jewellery brand. I also trained with Consciousness Coaching South Africa (CCSA) to become a certified life and executive coach. These experiences helped sharpen my business sense and leadership skills. I came back to India in 2013 and re-joined GSK to continue pursuing my corporate ambition.

I have tried to gain varied experiences in my 22 years that have helped me hone my skills and grow as a person while empowering me to help and develop others.

What is your take on the current situation of the healthcare industry in India?

The healthcare industry in India is going through a lot of dramatic changes. India is lagging behind global standards in healthcare – at both an individual level and government level. But the good news is that the industry is growing at a very healthy pace of about 8-10%. We are seeing proactive healthcare awareness, whether it’s fitness, regular health check-ups, or insurance. Every sector is seeing an upward swing. We’re seeing more and more people choose preventive healthcare packages, which is a welcome change in mindset.

It’s a good time for any professional to be in this industry as the winds are changing rapidly and there is a real opportunity for organisations to grow and provide value to consumers. 

Do you believe women need to take extra care of their health?

In today’s world, with deteriorating food quality, pollution, stress, radiation, etc., everyone needs to take extra care of their health. Women more so, as with everything mentioned above, they also face natural health degradation. For example, every pregnancy takes a toll on the body; after the age of 30 our bones start weakening because of the natural loss of calcium. 

There also needs to be a shift in how women think about themselves. Generally, they put themselves after everyone else. They do not invest in their own health. Women are caregivers for the entire family. Hence, it is even more imperative for them and their family that they look after themselves, so their body and mind don’t deteriorate over time.

Do you think challenges for working women and homemakers differ? Can you share some tips from your experience?

Both professionals and homemakers deal with their own kind of stress. For the latter, it is managing the home, looking after the children 24x7, and balancing domestic issues. For professionals it’s work pressure, juggling family and office, raising kids, etc.

If a woman has a high-performing career, it becomes even more challenging as a decent work-life balance is not easy to attain. Sometimes you fall short where you are doing more of one thing. Then there’s always the guilt of not being able to spend enough time with the family, or not giving 100% to your job.

A lot of women sacrifice their careers to take care of their family. Our consumer work amongst women shows that when the children grow up and become more independent, these mothers start to feel empty. It becomes difficult to go back to their careers after such a long break. They may start feeling a loss of self-confidence and the feeling of being taken for granted.

How, do you think, can work-life balance be achieved?

One must be realistic when it comes to creating this balance, or it can kill you. My advice is that we need to be less harsh on ourselves. Women want to do everything themselves as they believe no one else can do it for them. They need to learn to delegate. It’s not about doing everything but ensuring that things happen. In the corporate world, the most important leadership quality is to empower your juniors and guide them. Women need to apply this to their work and home environments to manage their life better.

Being a ‘life coach by passion’, can you share some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?

Women need to be honest with themselves – they must understand their strengths, development areas, and ambition. Unfortunately, in the work environment, some things that are assumed for men are not so clear for women. Women have to prove they are ambitious and demonstrate their capabilities. It is not the best way, but that’s the way it is. They should be vociferous about their ambition. In fact, they often shy away from taking credit, or refuse to talk about their achievements. It is important to be vocal to be noticed. 

Lastly, stand up for yourself and don’t allow yourself to be patronised. When I came back from my maternity leave, it took me a while to get back to the role I had looked forward to. When I confronted my senior manager, he mentioned I would not be able to handle it as I had a one-year-old child to look after. I told him firmly that it is only I who can decide what I can or cannot handle; no one else. It was a difficult meeting, but the outcome was positive. It is a question of putting oneself out there and saying, “Look, I know what I want!”

Is there any message you would like to send out to women?

Believe in yourself and go after your dreams!

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