Life has come full circle for Veena Patil. After devoting 19 years to Kesari Tours, she ventured out to form Veena World with her husband Sudhir and sister-in-law Sunila. A defining moment in her life, Veena World was launched on June 18, 2013. Forty-eight thousand customers have travelled with Veena World in eight months since tours began in September last year. Patil believes her weekly columns in Marathi dailies have created an emotional connect with the readers. “My writing style is simple and people relate to me. This has helped build the Veena World brand,” she states.
For Patil, who is scheduled to travel for tours 260 days this year to destinations like Goa, Kashmir, Kerala, Ladakh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Dubai, USA, Europe and Mauritius, it comes as no surprise she was born a day prior to World Tourism Day i.e. September 26, 1964. She stepped into the industry at the age of 20, right after completing a Diploma in Electrical Engineering from Somaiya College. Having studied in schools across Saphale, Vasai and Vile Parle, she was accustomed to building new relationships. Therefore, while launching Veena World, she was clear that they needed to bring new suppliers on board. Not one to mince words, Patil says, “We were having family problems while running Kesari. I decided to come out of my comfort zone and separating from Kesari helped us realise our true capabilities.” Her elder son, Neil (23) who studied at Monash University, Melbourne, joined the company in December 2013. Raaj (16), Patil’s younger son, is studying in Mumbai’s Poddar College.
Patil was instrumental in realising the potential of different travel segments, and with Veena World she has continued the legacy of targeting them. Veena World’s niche tours like Women’s Special, Student’s Special and Senior’s Special have evoked great response and these continue to be the core of their offerings. Since Patil and Sudhir will be completing 25 years of marriage this year, she has launched Jubilee Special tours for couples having completed 20 to 30 years of marriage.Day Break
Patil wakes up at 4.30-5.00 am and starts the day with a cup of hot tea without sugar. She leaves from her Shivaji Park home in Central Mumbai at 6 am for Joggers Park in Bandra. Her workout includes stretching exercises, followed by an hour of walk. “Morning walk is the only ‘me’ time I get. During this time I plan my day, ponder over ideas and pray to God,” she informs. Patil returns home by 7.30-8.00 am. Her breakfast at 8.30 am varies from cereals, toast, tea, juice and fruits. While commuting to the office headquarters in Mahim, she responds to e-mails and starts work at 10.00 am.
Planning, strategy and HR are the portfolios she handles at Veena World. “While my one eye is on the present, the other is always on the future,” Patil says. She believes it is important to be organised and concentrate on effective time management. “I make sure our staff doesn’t wait beyond 8.00 pm since the majority of them are females. Earlier, I used to work till midnight and my family life suffered,” she says.
Favourite Drink - Water
Favourite Destination - Home
Favourite Cuisine - Home-cooked food
Favourite Car - Mercedes, Passat
Favourite Restaurant - Tamnak Thai, Min Yang, Smoke House Deli, Gajalee, Gypsy Corner and seafood restaurants in Singapore
Attending to the office staff, planning tours, guiding tour managers, etc., keeps her busy through the day. Therefore, lunch is any time between 1.00 and 3.00 pm, which includes rotis, vegetables, curd, salad and rice. On Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, lunch includes a chicken preparation. For snacks at 5.00 pm, she indulges in biscuits, bhel or idli and tea. Since Patil survives on global cuisines during her travels, while in Mumbai she likes to indulge in simple, home-cooked food like roti served with jaggery and ghee, or poha soaked in milk. After Hours
For someone to have reached a position that Patil has, it is hard to believe she doesn’t like networking. “I am famous for not attending meetings and social events. Every day, Sudhir and Sunila meet authorities of consulates and tourism boards. I attend events only if it is really required. I believe in one-to-one conversation. Three of us are synergically bound; they like to be social and complement my personality,” she added. She reaches home by 8.00 pm.
Patil does not like to step into the kitchen but has learnt to prepare Thai specialities for her younger son. “I am not fond of cooking because I don’t have enough patience,” she admits. Dinner, comprising rotis, vegetables and salad, or fast food items, is usually wrapped up by 9.00 pm. Post-dinner, Patil reads books on management before going to bed at 10.30-11.00 pm.
‘Take life as it comes’ is Patil’s philosophy in life. She likes listening to audio books and old Hindi songs. Since she is away from family most of the time, she makes it a point to dine at restaurants two-three times a week with her sons when in Mumbai.
Behind every successful man, there is a woman, but in Patil’s case, there is a role reversal. The success of her career, she believes, goes to her husband. “When we got married in 1989, I was working and he supported my choice. I have a caretaker at home and my parents and mother-in-law have been great support when my children were growing up. My husband is a major driving force for my success. He is a true gentleman and very cooperative. I wouldn’t have been able to reach where I am today without his support. These qualities have been imbibed by my sons and today they understand the demands of my job,” she says.