It has been well established that women are front-runners in their professional lives, they have made success stories of any venture they’re a part of and continue to make a mark for themselves in the world. What women entrepreneurship have achieved is well known. But the Associate Creative Director and Partner of GCD Studio, Shahana Jain‘s take on women achievers is not the ‘what’, but the ‘how’. How are they able to achieve their goals? What modifications are they ready to make in their personal lives? What impact do their surroundings have in their path to success?
While enjoying a short break in the hills of Kasauli this weekend, I got some time to think about what women entrepreneurship means to me personally.
Every woman has her own way of structuring her life around what she wants to achieve. It is a function of her personal choices. If she wants she can find a way to balance work, home, family and children, therefore creating an environment conducive to success for herself and those around her.
For instance, GCD Studio is an all women’s team, led by a woman who believes there is no work-life separation. From bringing her children to work to taking a vacation to spend quality time with them, she has always encouraged the co-existence of work and life.
In fact, ‘work-life balance’ (where work is seen as something outside of your life) is a misnomer. You find a balance when they are different. It is as much a part of our lives as anything else. I feel women understand their responsibilities well and can effortlessly juggle both work and home without neglecting either. Not to generalize, but because women are accustomed to multitasking they manage to get a lot done simultaneously.
A workplace truly becomes your own when you feel the freedom to be able to bring your personal life into it. Citing my own example, I recently had a baby, and not for a day did it restrict me from continuing with my work. I could work from home and have colleagues over occasionally to work with me on a particular job.
Being women we understand each other’s personal commitments and needs and therefore create a sensitive and supportive environment in the studio. It empowers us to move forward no matter what. When you spend more than fifty percent of your day somewhere, it ought to be your second most favourite place in the world.
As entrepreneurs in the creative industry, we find ways to balance profitability with investment in people. So while being driven and focused on work we also devise ways to make the studio creative and engaging. Deadlines and client calls are interspersed with occasional time outs.
I feel as women we tend to add softer elements to the work culture, like we have saree days, we play a game of taboo at lunch, or take an impromptu trip to Dilli Haat on a winter evening. Professional skills are layered with new learnings, like a recent photography workshop in Goa. This goes a long way in establishing a healthier and more productive work environment.
Broadly speaking, women by their very nature create a nurturing environment around them. To value each other as individuals, encourage their creativity and out of the box thinking, to be sympathetic to shortcomings that others face without naming or shaming them are essential to the growth of any organisation.
There is no room for hierarchy, we’re not ‘bosses’ or ‘employees’, we’re just people who get together every day to do something we love. A flat structure with no silos allows everybody to be involved with every job happening in the studio. Which further means that if one person is crunched for time, or has a personal emergency, the others can cover.
I find that women are more cooperative in a team environment and especially when there is a non-threatening work culture that isn’t based on competition and one-upmanship. Values like these make it a place you want to come back to every morning.
Having created our own unique work culture, GCD Studio continues to be among the leading design studios in the country. Having worked with an impressive list of clients, like the Oberoi and Trident Hotels, Lemon Tree Hotels, The Times of India, Spicejet, Daawat, to name a few, as well as playing a key role in guiding new companies like Veeba, Eazydiner and Farmveda.
We consciously keep a balance between commercial projects that keep the bottom line healthy and socially supportive projects, which we often do pro bono. Moreover, taking our in-house work culture forward we have been able to create long term professional relationships with our clients; some more than 20 years.
To conclude, when women choose to become entrepreneurs, they mean business! They often have given up some stereotypical role or broken a norm to do this – so often have to prove themselves. That is what gives them the drive to succeed and even do things differently. Women see their workplaces as extensions of themselves and an important means to achieve professional as well as personal growth.