Dr Somdutta Singh, an entrepreneur, author and an investor, talks to G20 about her endeavours. Excerpts:
Q. Tell us about your story.
A. I may have been born into an archetypal, rich Bengali family from Kolkata where I would have been expected to follow my doctor parents’ footsteps when it came to choosing a career path. At a very early age, I had decided that this was not the life and future I would want for myself. I wanted freedom of choice, I wanted to travel the world and have a better work-life balance. I was determined to break tradition and chase my dreams.
My family and I used to visit the club to meet my father’s friends who were all Marwari businessmen and lived a flamboyant life. Something would stir within me wanting to lead a life like that, extravagant and awe-inspiring. When I conveyed my decision to forge a different career path from my parents, they severed all ties with me. However, that did not bring an end to my dreams. At the tender age of 16 and armed with a meagre amount, I moved to Bangalore. I still remember how I had met a wonderful lady on the train, who had helped me immensely when I finally reached Bangalore. The woman, inspirational and resilient, was the owner of a paying guest, where I stayed and simultaneously managed a salon, and how I got my first job.
Q. Yours is an Entrepreneurial spirit so unique & vibrant please engage with us. How so?
Ans: I learnt at an early age in life that every adversity presents itself with an opportunity. For instance, I learnt how to make chocolates from a roommate while staying in my PG, where for her it was a hobby, but I converted it into an occupation and generated revenue by selling them at my college. I never had the luxury of a boyfriend and when all my friends were busy painting the town red, I chose to skip the parties and night outs to spend weekends doing minor tailoring jobs to earn an income.
Wow today you are at the helm of platforms that are revered & tapped into. Like TED Talks. Economic Times Conclave Rice Conference, Core Committee Member of Niti Udyog etc. How is the experience?
I have always pushed the envelope of excellence, testing limits and trying out new, radical ideas. Before I turned 30, I took a risk to bravely contest for the post of the Vice-Chairperson in the coveted NASSCOM Product Council. I became the first woman to helm the position and succeeded in taking the organization to new heights.
Q. Share with us your latest swift innings with your new venture COVID PROTECTION MERCHANDISE?
A. When the Covid-19 epidemic outbreak had just commenced taking its toll on China, its economy and its residents, the world was gearing up to embrace the situation and confront it. Although the crisis was going to get scary, I could perceive an opportunity in front of me. Thus, when the coronavirus pandemic permeated India, I realized that India does not have enough protective gears such as PPE kits and masks, our first line of defense in this fight against an unseen foe and shield our doctors, hospital workers, front line health workers and finally the citizens at large.
Q. Please guide us with valuable pertinent, life transformational wise words of practice & implementations. There is so much anxiousness & apprehension. Guides to business persons.
A. My message to all women entrepreneurs is that women are already empowered, they do not need empowerment. Empowerment is a fancy word being strewn around. In fact, it is the men who need to be empowered. Women have immense capacity and the extra X chromosome is what makes them who they are.