INTERVIEW OF RITU CHATTERJEE: DIRECTOR - Founder & Director - SRM Innovations, Member of WEE
Q: What inspired you to start your own business?
A: The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world- well I took a maternity break to rock the cradle and consciously extended it a little bit to be with my little one – couldn’t resist it as a first-time mom – with no regrets.
I was a Zonal head for an Investment portfolio management company before I took a break.. Besides having worked in senior positions with Citibank, Canon, ICICI Prudential, for over 12 years of corporate work experience in Marketing, Operations, Sales & Client Relationship Management. Now, I wanted to move back into a corporate role which I thought wouldn’t be too difficult – but guess what the corporate diaspora had changed and had no space for me as a professional. A multitude of interviews – past the consultant- the Corporate recruitment team and finally the domain team- and then some “Senior Manager” from the ivory tower would say – why don’t we hire someone from the field - Frustrating isn’t it…?
After series of similar experiences, I decided to try a different route – My plan B - Socializing and connecting with people is something, I have always enjoyed doing. A few weeks later I found myself taking complete responsibility for a cousins wedding from start to end – a 5 day affair in the North – I loved doing it and everyone liked the fact that every single detail was planned and executed to perfection – from multiple guest pickups to dropping them and everything in between – all the ceremonies – I felt a sense of achievement – and that was the turning point of my professional life – I realized what I wanted to do! My hobby, my passion was destined to become my profession. So here I am…
A solution to a problem one suffers is usually the inspiration behind a business. An idea that solves a problem.
Q: What hurdles came across in beginning?
A: Well! Anything new that you start is challenging. It’s like the jitters you feel before going on stage. It’s like the train of thoughts that run before getting married. Not coming from a business background there was so much to learn, right from meeting the client, making a proposal, negotiations, drafting a contract, executing as per the expectations, raising an invoice which was very unnerving initially but today I feel very proud that I learned so much along the way. Our biggest strength has been the quality of work, quick turnaround time and customized cutting-edge solutions we offer to our clients. If I look back at my initial days of developing my company SRM Innovations it was my spouse - Milon Chatterjee who stood by me like a rock. I was literally stepping into oblivion amidst the chaos, the only support I had was him. He believed in my strengths and agreed to invest in my idea. We started with small-scale consumer exhibitions and motivational workshops. And today through our network of associates and vendors, we are in position to provide execution services anywhere in India. This is just the beginning.. We have a long way to go.
Q: What is Your Struggle Story?
A: In a world that is changing at a faster pace than we can imagine, where the corporate marketplace lives by the mantra of “innovate or die”, one can only imagine the mammoth challenges that women face who are seeking to re-enter the workforce after a long career break. It was not easy for me either. After series of rejections, I developed a strong will to start-up on my own terms.
The universe nudged me and I decided to be an event planner. Something I was good at and enjoyed. I never had a business plan, no set guidelines just an end goal. When I was ready to start my business, I looked to my past experience and started building a business framework that energized and excited me.
Sales and marketing had always been my strength all through my corporate work experience of over 12 years. (In 2006 was awarded with chairman select award in Spain for generating highest business in India for ICICI Prudential) I choose to include business activities that I had succeeded in, I enjoyed at heart level and that showered a promise of growth. I’ve been very fortunate to have wonderful clients and in my years of being into this business, most of my work has come from the referrals and admittedly social media. I’ve been very lucky to have the support and advice of associate vendors who I’ve gained friendship with over the years. Thinking back now of my initial days of being in business, I was a total amateur, Now I’ve grown and I feel like I know who I am and who I want my clients to be.
Q: What is your business into?
A: My company SRM Innovations is an innovative solution provider for Events &Marketing, Weddings, Exhibitions, Workshops, PR & Entertainment.
SRM has tied up with consultants and strategic partners with expertise in all areas of event management and marketing. We customize an event team that best suits our client’s needs. Allowing others to share in the vision not only benefits my company but can also be a gift to those who are inspired by the work and to participate.
Q: How would you like to help your fellow members / or contribute towards society?
A: I believe in collaboration, community, and team contribution. I am into a business, which caters to a variety of event-related services to society. We also participate in Fundraising activities for NGO’s and NPO’s, charity events and do cause-related marketing.
After over 2 years in my business, I have recognized the value of allowing others to join in and have found a way to collaborate and share ideas, resources and contacts in ways that are mutually beneficial. A rising tide lifts all boats. I want to be part of raising others up.
I am also an active member of Women Entrepreneurs Enclave (WEE) which not only give a voice to women’s ideas but also motivates them to get better at what they do and reach out provider client base. In pursuit of my quest to collaborate with like-minded women Entrepreneurs, I, fortunately, came across Chaitali, someone with ideas and aspirations in line with mine. We continued to meet in common forums over a period of time. Proud to be associated with WEE as their event-marketing partner and assisting the founder in the coordination of events – Marketing, entertainment, space selling and fundraising activities.