Three successful women leaders share their top career advice


Three successful women leaders share their top career advice

You're going to want to take notes

By ELLE team  December 11th, 2019

The time when professional roles were dictated by gender is now history and three exemplary women, Shonan Purie Trehan, Vinati Saraf Mutreja and Namita Thapar, trailblazers in their fields, lead by example. We find out how they are conquering more than just their rightful positions at the head of the table and walking the talk.

Namita Thapar, Executive Director, Emcure Pharma

Namita Thapar has risen up the ladder, learning the ropes of her family business that earned her a spot at the helm of Emcure Pharma, a company currently valued at INR 5,000 crores. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Thapar completed her MBA from Duke University and worked for a while in the USA before returning to India.

Silk organza shirt, INR 10,000, Pankaj & Nidhi. Cotton-blend skirt, leather belt, diamond earrings and ring; all Thapar’s own. Rose-gold, diamond and sapphire necklace, INR 10,75,000, ring, INR 1,80,000; both Her Story, Decor: Chair, Sarita Handa

She has been instrumental in boosting growth at Emcure by implementing new automation techniques and systems. She oversees Finance and HR of over 6,000 medical representatives and two lakh doctors spanning 15 therapeutic areas. She also heads the Young Entrepreneurs Academy in India that teaches entrepreneurship to 11-18 year-olds and inspires them to innovate and carve out their own future path. “Women are great at time management but terrible at guilt management. We need to conquer our guilt in order to be more productive and positive.” 

– Aabha Bakaya

Vinati Saraf Mutreja, Managing Director and CEO, Vinati Organics

Vinati is one of the few leading women in the field of manufacturing. She holds a dual degree, a Bachelor of Science in Economics (Finance) from The Wharton School as well as a Bachelor in Applied Science from the School of Engineering (University of Pennsylvania). At Vinati Organics, she balances technical-manufacturing in a confident style with deep insight into which existing and new products to focus on in order to boost growth.

Satin-blend top, INR 7,500, Payal Khandwala. Cotton-blend skirt, Mutreja’s own. Rose-gold and diamond earrings, INR 5,80,000, ring, INR 2,55,000; both Her Story, Decor: Chair, Sarita Handa

Since she has taken over, the company’s revenue has increased 15 times to INR 1,000 crores and its market capital has leapfrogged 400 times. “My advice to young women wanting to pursue manufacturing is to not be afraid of being different. Sometimes there is merit in being a minority. Generally, it’s a very result-oriented industry and hence most people don’t care whether you’re a man or a woman. Also, think of your career as a 40-year-long graph, so don’t try to peak in the first 5-10 years. Make mistakes, collect experiences, and take it slow when you need to.” 

– Aabha Bakaya

Shonan Purie Trehan, Founder and Head Architect, Language. Architecture.body

Shonan Purie Trehan is as poetic in her approach to architecture and design as she is scientific. Along with a degree from Rhode Island School of Design, she also holds a Master’s degree from London’s Bartlett School of Architecture. She set up Language.Architecture. Body (L.A.B) in 2010, where she goes beyond design and material to delve into the stories of people who inhabit a space. “I love building, the joinery of things, how they get made in the hands that build them,” she says.

Silk sari dress, INR 22,000, Rashmi Varma. Rose-gold, lapis, turquoise, diamond and iolite necklace, INR 2,60,000, bracelet, INR 3,90,000, lapis, turquoise, diamond ring, INR 3,50,000, ring, INR 1,15,000; all Her Story. Metal nose stud, Trehan’s own.

From the multi-speciality hospital in Gurgaon, Medanta-The Medicity to retail spaces for Nicobar Studio and Anita Dongre in both India and New York and Drift House on Little Much Farm (the much-acclaimed project in Mulshi, Maharashtra that earned her a nomination at the World Architectural Festival in Amsterdam in 2019 for Completed Buildings: Villa)—she is relentless in her pursuit of seeing how to play with spaces and places. 

– Shubhanjana Das

Photographs: Colston Julian; Styling: Pujarini Ghosh; Hair: Jean-Claude Biguine & Spa India; Make-up: Natasha Nischol/ Fat Mu; Assisted by: Tejaswini Sinha (styling)