Dad’s the boss, it's great to be partners: Parle Agro's Nadia Chauhan Kurup

Success Quotient is a weekly feature that appears every Friday on Firstpost, which looks at the pains and joys en route to success for a head honcho - whether a CEO, MD or an entrepreneur. The column looks at the ideas that helped launch a company, its highs and lows.

True to the entrepreneurial blood that runs through her veins,  Nadia Chauhan Kurup, the daughter of Parle Agro’s Prakash Chauhan, started experimenting with a few business ventures when she was 11-years-old. Though she tried her hand at them, 29- year-old Kurup never wanted to strike out on her own. Instead, she always wanted to join her father’s firm. Kurup, who is now Chief Marketing Officer and Joint Managing Director of Parle Agro, shares her journey and her dreams as she looks back on a career and a job that's all in the family.

 Excerpts from the conversation:

You showed your business streak quite early as an 11 year-old. But then you shut shop on both startup ventures pretty soon. What did those short trysts with business teach you?

I think the idea of being an entrepreneur from a really young age always excited me. During my free time (school breaks/weekends etc), I used to always look forward to doing something of my own. Perhaps with the amount of business talk and the kind of passion for business that we have always been surrounded with - you could say it was inspiring enough to push me to put my mind to do something constructive.

I had multiple businesses. The longest most profitable one for me was my bakery business under a brand that I developed called Just Divine. The other was a Tie and Dye business, which I shut down due to sourcing issues and on job operational hazards. I don’t think, irrespective of what I would have tried my hand at, any of it would have lasted too long. I think that I was always longing to just join my father in business.

My father taught me how to price a product when I started some of my childhood businesses - I remember those lessons to date. Of course during that time I learnt many hard lessons in sales as well. The Tie and Dye business I marketed through door-to-door sales.

What did you want to do in your dad's business?

 Dad’s the boss, its great to be partners: Parle Agros Nadia Chauhan Kurup

Nadia Chauhan, Chief Marketing Officer and Joint MD, Parle Agro

Like any other kid, I may have dreamt of being a vet and all kinds of other things. But at the back of my mind and as I grew up, I knew there was only one thing I would want to do -- Join my father’s business and take forward his legacy.

What are the advantages of working in a Family Owned Business where your dad is the boss?

My dad has been a very special boss. He has a very unique leadership style. I've always loved the chemistry that my dad and I share at work. We often go into large scale business meetings and negotiations as partners and it’s great! I think the biggest advantage is really the energy and the environment, also the fact that decision-making is generally so quick. It enables me to take things forward quite aggressively.

Your sisters are also in leading positions in the firm. Do you always talk shop when you meet?

While at work we always talk shop. But when we meet over the weekends or evenings, we don’t talk shop at all. We bond, and all our kids bond too.

What leadership lessons have you learnt from your father?

There are so many, but most of all - the ability to dream fearlessly and then go out there and fight for what you believe in and make it happen. To lead with your gut, with passion, with fearlessness and an open mind.

You have said often in interviews that you were very diffident as a child. How did you overcome that to get to the leadership position?

As I grew older, I believe I got a lot more confident of myself and my strengths. The kind of work I was managing entailed working with different people from all kinds of places. If I had to lead, I had to do it with confidence and clarity. I think I just shed the old skin and grew a new one and just very naturally took on this position.

What does your job entail?

To ensure that I take Parle Agro to new heights every year and to take all those steps towards making it the Number 1 Food & Beverage brand of India.

What is the most exciting part of your job? 

I've never had any one refer to it as a job. Maybe that’s the most exciting part. It’s not just my job, it’s my passion. I'm living it! The most exciting part for me is developing people and teams, building a stronger organization, meeting with  people from all walks of life from different parts of the country and the world and so much more.

What was your first product launch? How did that happen? What did its success mean to you?

After I joined in an official capacity, Appy Fizz was my first brand launch. I am very passionate about our brands and as a corporate, we pride in the fact that a prerequisite towards launching a product is to ensure that it’s an experience the country has never had before. It was amazing to launch Appy Fizz. This brand, while its had like every other new brand launch its own set of challenges, today it is one of our fastest growing brands in our portfolio. It feels great to be able to launch, nurture and grow brands.

You have changed the image of the company from a largely single brand focus (Frooti) to a multi-brand, multi-category focus. Tell us how you made that decision and transition? Did it involve a lot of discussions with your dad?

It was a gradual process and we are still working on it. After having laid down a large corporate vision, it was important to see it translate. Part of it was to make Parle Agro a number one F&B company and for that it meant we needed to make inroads into the multiple sub categories of beverages. However, we wanted to still do it the Parle Agro Way. It involved a lot of things. Not just aligning the larger organization with this outlook, but a lot of training and focus to build larger set of capabilities within the sales and distribution, as well as the manufacturing organization to take on newer and more complex products and brands and lead them to success.

You have been credited with raising revenues of the firm since you were put in charge of sales. What was your business strategy?

I focused largely on putting a lot of basics in place followed by defining a clear vision and then looking at the various enablers. It sounds very simple. But of course it is one of the most challenging things to do, if you have to do it right.

What are you growth plans for 2015 and expected revenues?

We expect to see a 35 percent growth this year.  We are not looking at any new launches at the moment.

You love to travel, ride horses, practice kickboxing. 

Yes, I love to travel and experience new cultures and places. I am a big foodie, and I love experimenting with new cuisines from all over the world.


Updated Date: Aug 03, 2015 11:30:33 IST