I am fortunate to be a part of a family which has been closely related to the automobile sector in Kerala. My grandfather was the founder of Kerala Transport Company, which, over a period of 70 years, has grown into one of the major surface transport agents in the country. Further, the company has diversified into automobile, films, healthcare, real estate, media, among many others.
My brother Mr. PV Nidhish introduced me to the autombile sector as he headed the auto division in 2004 and handed over the responsibility of running our two wheeler dealership to me. At the time, I was new to the sector and just out of college. It goes without saying that it was quite a challenge for a fresher like me to get involved in such a responsible position.
Making decisions and implementing it in a predominantly male dominated sector was initially tough. I must admit that it wasn’t easy and the beginning phase was certainly the toughest, given that the place Kozhikode is a city with a very conservative outlook. However, slowly, I began to learn about the different aspects of the automobile industry and began involving myself into the finer details relating to sales, service, marketing, customer relations and so on.
However, the support given by family members cannot be underestimated – such as the support of my uncle Shri PV Chandran and my father Shri PV Gangadharan.
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A significant milestone was when we started our first Volkswagen car dealership in Kochi in 2014. This was a totally different ball game as the customers were different, the logistics were complex and I literally had to start from ground zero.
Over the last fourteen years, I have learned many valuable lessons that helped me grow as a professional in the auto sector. I am listing it below:
1. No field is alien for women who are determined to learn from ground zero and work hard no matter what the odds are.
2. There is no short cut to success. One has to stay patient and persuasive.
3. Not every day is good in business, so don’t ever lose hope when the business is facing a downturn.
4. Business gives you an opportunity to interact and engage with an amazing spectrum of stakeholders.
5. The challenge of winning over customers to your brand is truly one that gives a sense of confidence and fulfillment.
6. One has to learn every single aspect of the trade and make smart moves.
Recently, my sisters and I have started a film production company called S-CUBE, which intends to produce meaningful Malayalam cinema. Our family’s Grihalakshmi Productions is already a household name in Kerala and I am proud to say that it has a lady as its icons and the torchbearers have been three ladies – my mother and my aunts.
Another area where I have got involved is the petroleum retailing, which is again a male dominated field. I am lucky to have an ever supporting husband Dr Sandeep, who is a busy nephrologist, but always finds time to support and encourage me every single day. And my girls, Devi and Dyuti, who have been extremely adjusting and patient, and have had to put up with my sudden meeting schedules and long hours at office.
What I am trying to say is simply this – a woman has amazing potential to accomplish anything she wants – the key is to find your passion and work on it relentlessly. And when the tough times come, don’t ever give up!
Sherga Sandeep is Executive Director, Volkswagen Ernakulam, KTC Cars (India) Pvt Ltd. She is also co-founder of a film production company called S-CUBE.