Tech entrepreneur Manisha Raisinghani started her logistics optimisation company, LogiNext, in 2014, with Dhruvil Sanghvi, her batchmate from Carnegie Mellon University. In just four years, it has become one of the fastest growing tech firms in the world (according to Financial Times, statistics portal Statista, and IBM), with 200 clients across 10 countries. As the company’s CTO, Raisinghani, 33, believes that a work-life balance is irrelevant when work is a goal, and a dream turnedreality. After that, it’s more about a work-life confluence. Here, she tells ELLE how she plans to ensure her company stays ahead of the curve:
ELLE: It’s unusual to see a woman CTO in this field. How did you choose this path?
Manisha Raisinghani: I was always into solving problems. Even as I child, I used to look for issues to solve and ways to make things work better. Once you find a journey that justifies your position, it becomes irrelevant that you’re a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry like logistics. Now, it’s more merit based than ever. People see me as a person whose software can make their costs go down, and increase their efficiency multifold. We had a great product market fit from the get-go. We made deliveries faster for our clients, with shorter routes and well-planned schedules, and basically kept on delivering really high returns on investments.
ELLE: How does the world perceive you as a woman techie?
MR: Sometimes, a woman’s abilities or achievements suffer due to preconceived notions. It’s like hearing “it’s great, for a ‘woman’”—that’s acknowledgment and dismissal in the same line. But women can compete on an equal footing with men. I was always focused on delivering the best. I used to get people who were surprised that a woman could lead a global tech company in the logistics space. But now I don’t find many who are actually surprised. They just see a leader, not necessarily a ‘woman’ leader.
ELLE: What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as a businesswoman? Has it changed your management style?
MR: An area where the way I lead has evolved is decision making. You can’t remove gut instinct from the picture. That’s where the edge comes in, especially when you are starting out. But over the years, I have let data drive many of my decisions. Sometimes, you have to count the hard facts before you proceed. In time, you know when to make datadriven decisions and when not to. And since our software delves deep into data analytics and data-backed decision making in logistics, it’s just obvious that as the company providing it, we should be data driven too.
ELLE: Tell us about your partnership with Dhruvil.
MR: When we started off, Dhruvil and I handled the bulk of the work together. But as the company grew, we had to segregate our responsibilities. I took over the tech bandwagon. We’ve known each other from college, so there’s total mutual respect. And yes, we had those Starbucks days, where we talked about how we’d one day change the world of logistics. Now, we’re deep in our domains, but at our core, we are still those starry-eyed visionaries who want to do something really amazing in technology and logistics.
ELLE: What is your advice to young women looking to build a solid foundation for their careers?
MR: Times have changed, but progress is still slow. You might encounter hurdles, but don’t get bogged down by them; especially misplaced stereotypes. There will always be people who dismiss efforts based on gender, but you must learn to rise above it. Remember, once you find success, all barriers become irrelevant. And to succeed, you have to be true to yourself. Never alter yourself to fit into the requirements of society. Society will eventually change itself for you.
Aabha Bakaya is the co-founder of Ladies Who Lead, a networking platform for women entrepreneurs and working professionals. (Ladieswholead.in)
Photograph: Sahil Behal
Sittings editor: Akshita Singh
Hair and make-up: Jean-Claude Biguine