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Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 11 : 50 AM [IST]

Persistence Personified - Vasudha Sondhi

Vasudha Sondhi faced many challenges during her journey but nothing could stop her from becoming a successful entrepreneur. After incurring huge financial loss in her restaurant business with a partner and unsuccessfully dabbling in some tourism-based activities failed to deter her enthusiasm. Each failure made her stronger and she realised that it is important to select a like-minded person for any partnership business. She also believes that to remain relevant in the changing scenario it is important to learn, unlearn and learn again.

Vasudha Sondhi, Managing Director, Outbound Marketing Pvt Ltd wanted to become an hotelier since her childhood. She was inspired by Thangam Philip, who was a visionary and set up the hotel management institutes in India. Sondhi heard her at a school function when Philip was a speaker. She travelled extensively with her family and was always agape with all that the country had to offer so many years ago. “Travelling on road was something we relished as a family and the ‘smell of diesel’ lured me,” reminiscences Sondhi. Travelling was another passion for her and she loved the company of avid travellers. “I wanted to surround myself with people who were passionate about travel and the hospitality sector beckoned,” she said. She started her carrier in the kitchen of Taj and then moved on to food and beverage service. Her next stop was at Hyatt Hotels in the banquetting department. But somehow her affinity towards travel reignited and she opted for sales and marketing and has stuck to that till today. “I loved the possibility of meeting people from all walks of life and the challenge of sales is not unlike a sport induced adrenalin.”

Sondhi is extremely lucky to have knowledgeable mentors who guided her properly right from the beginning. “I was mentored by wise people who were always wanted me to do well in my career,” she says. Due to her love, passion and understanding of the subject she overcome the challenges easily and it was more like a routine affair. “I absolutely loved my work therefore challenges were never a stumbling block for me,” she says. For her, the biggest challenge was to balance her family with career. But the problem was addressed as she stayed in a joint family. “I was lucky to be a part of supportive joint family,” she points out. After successfully running the business for several years the challenges for her today are more complex in nature which encompasses human resources, managing budget for multiple clients and to deliver a strong ROI (Return on Investment) to the clients. “In any industry to make a mark, you have to push the bar. I don’t think I had a strategy to make a mark or anything like that. What drove me was the joy of delivering excellence,” she says.

Talking about her biggest failure she said that it is very difficult to pin point any big failure; rather it was an amalgamation of several of them. She started a restaurant business on partnership basis, but met with a huge financial loss. Not only that, she also unsuccessfully dabbled in some tourism-based activities. But nothing could deter her enthusiasm, rather she became stronger with the lessons she learnt from these failures. She realised that it is imperative to select a like minded person for any partnership business. “The three lessons that emerged were to choose partners with similar life philosophy and work ethics, undertake one project at a time and do it well, learn-unlearn and learn again to be relevant in such dynamic times,” she points out.

Speaking about a challenging task that she faced during the early years of setting up her company Outbound Marketing, she said that they did a project with an India-based hotel group which had no credibility in the market, completely in the red and tour operators were reluctant to sell their products due to the changing policies of the hotel. This was the time when Sondhi just resigned from a reputed hotel company. Being associated with that hotel she naturally had very warm relations with tour operators. Looking at the timing of the project she undertook, it was nothing short of gambling. This is because she was lending her credibility to the project. She completely got involved in the project as it was a very tricky situation for her. “Needless to say I got involved in detailing the sales strategy, international tour operator relationships, training of their existing team, setting up policies to give confidence to the seller in India and gave this project my undivided attention for 4 years till their revenues were in the black,” she explains.

“Long walk to freedom” by Nelson Mandela is the all time favourite book of Sondhi. She thinks that this book is highly inspirational, showing what it takes to fight against all odds, the ability to be sane in insane conditions and to speak up for what is right. “Nine Lives In search of the sacred in Modern India” is another book that she can read several times. She usually prefers historical fiction. “Glib talk will not see you through every situation!” is the best piece of advice she received from her Economics professor.

prasenjit.chakraborty@saffronsynergies.in
 
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