Building material industry is a diverse industry that offers opportunities to women from different educational backgrounds. However, like any other industry, it has its share of challenges as well, avers Aparna Reddy, Executive Director, Aparna Enterprises Ltd, in interaction with on the event of women’s day.

1.What led you to choose building material industry as a career?
Entering into a building material industry was a natural transition for me as I always wanted to explore an area that will help me contribute to my father’s line of business. Besides, I also wanted to do something that aligns with my ambitions. Fortunately, my parents always motivated me to pursue my goal. They encouraged me to believe in myself. But getting my head around an entire new industry was incredibly challenging, and in fact, I am still learning every day.

2.What has been your support mechanism in a career in this sector?
My biggest strengths have been my parents and my husband. Moreover, my friends have also been my support mechanism. On the professional front, I owe big to my colleagues and team members.

3.What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
Being the Chairman’s daughter was hardly a benefit to me as I had to work my way up to earn respect and confidence of our clients, employees and partners.

I realised early in life that school never prepare you for what real life has in store. So acquiring the ability to anticipate change and learning to handle what life might unfold was crucial. This learning helped me extensively both at a personal as well as professional level. At the professional level, it helped me to look beyond the immediate future and explore newer avenues of growth without deviating from our core. Our foray into manufacturing of tiles under the brand-Vitero Tiles was one such initiative. Today, Vitero Tiles is one of the fastest-growing tile brands in the country.

4.Are you content with your career choice?
Yes, I feel the decision to be a part of this business was absolutely right. Working for a fantastic company like ours, where every employee is valued and respected is a great boon for any professional. It has also allowed me to work alongside like-minded individuals. When I look back at the kind of projects I have created and delivered along with the team, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Further, the decision to be a part of Aparna Enterprises Limited helped me to be amidst many supportive and inspiring people who have played a key role in helping me grow and develop a career in a line that I am passionate about. I would have not got this opportunity if I had chosen another field.

As far as success is concerned, it is a state of mind. Apart from enjoying what you do, having a positive mindset and resilience is also crucial to rise up the ladder.

5.What kind of challenges did you face in this male-dominated field?
When you are running a business, no two days are the same. You face a new challenge every day, ranging from the simple ones to more complex ones. From a gender perspective, the biggest task I had to manage was gaining the confidence of our partners. Building material industry is predominately a male-dominated sector, and hence some of our partners were initially apprehensive about dealing with me. However, as they witnessed my passion for the business, they became confident. Today they judge me not by the gender I belong to but by what I bring to the discussion table.

However, some of the most common challenges women face at the workplace are- lack of respect and overt ‘man-terruptions’ (this is when men keep interrupting women, making it difficult for them to express their thoughts). ‘Bro-culture’ and a presumption that women do not know how to do their jobs are also serious challenges that women encounter at workplaces. These uncalled behaviours are a huge burden. Corporates need to be mindful of these behaviours and should create an open environment that encourages women to share their suggestions to resolve the issue.

6.Do you feel the general perception of women in the sector has changed over the years?
Like all other sectors, building material industry is also evolving. It is slowly giving way to a much more comfortable and accepting ecosystem.

7.Any suggestions for other women foraying into building material industry?
Building material industry is a diverse industry, and hence the opportunities it offers are also endless. There are roles to suit women from different educational and career backgrounds. However, as in any other business, the building material industry is also a complex one. So before you enter the industry, know what you want to achieve; this can be surprisingly difficult, but once you have worked this out, you will never lose your way. Set clear goals of what you want to achieve. This usually means challenging yourself to do things that you have never done before. While this may sound like a difficult task, it is not. We already do this. For instance, we set our mind to manage a baby and home with equal dexterity. We surely are capable of finding a way to accomplish anything, even handling the pressures that come with managing a business.