India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Verve People
June 09, 2014

The Business of Being

Text by Sitanshi Talati-Parikh. Photograph by Toranj Kavyon. Styling by Anuradha Gandhi. Make-up and Hair by Rituu Gandhi. Location courtesy: ITC Maratha

She’s passionate, dedicated and full of conviction. The CEO of Parle Agro Pvt. Ltd., Schauna Chauhan Saluja, is fully immersed in running her family business and believes in a lifetime of learning

“Work is my priority. Which does not mean family is not as important. But at this age I have the energy, determination and the strength to handle a lot more.”

Thirty-seven-year old Schauna Chauhan Saluja started in the family business at the age of 22 and it feels like she was meant for exactly that. “I didn’t need to see a guidance counsellor in school to sit and ponder over what it is that I wanted to become or where I should work. I think it was already chosen for me and I accepted it as I grew up learning the business…it was a very natural process.”

‘After schooling in Kodaikanal International School and acquiring a Bachelor’s degree from business school in Lausanne, she was back home, learning the ropes in Parle Agro. “Being part of the business has always been so great because it is driven by so much passion and energy. And you are continuously learning. When I started, my role was to learn and understand the business, and that’s what I did – and in a lot of ways I’m still doing that. Joining young gave me a chance to grow with the company.”

The mother of a six-month-old boy, Jahaan, she has her hands full but believes that time can expand to fit all that needs to be done in. “Everyone in my family is working and is as passionate about their work so the understanding is there, if there are occasions where work takes up most of your time. When the family is together, the shared experience becomes important. And whatever free moments I have are taken up by my family first.”

Schauna, who believes in the power of teamwork, a healthy culture and set of values within the organisation, is focused on the current challenge at work – which is something she believes every other entrepreneur or business person is also facing – the challenge to keep the company growth steady in today’s economic scenario. “My life will take the direction depending on the choices I make and the decisions I take. Where I would like it to go is only higher….”

“I am what I am and I do what I do.” Her personal style is very simple, and when she accessorises, she ensures that it’s always a reflection of her personality: simple, elegant and delicate. “I believe that less is more. I don’t like it too cluttered or busy and one does not need to be fancy to look elegant.” Jackets, pearls – you would almost never see her without her pearl necklaces – and bright colours, like pink, are her staples. “One should try and dress up every day…whether it’s the business suit you wear for work or the outfit you slip into when you are going out for an occasion. And dress well to please yourself.”

She treasures a gold heart-shaped Tiffany necklace and an Ulysse Nardin watch that her husband, tennis player and actor, Bikram Saluja, gave her – the latter after he got his first independent project. To Schauna success is, “Going through varied emotions, doing what you love, dressing up in what you would enjoy wearing, learning something new every day, getting up every time you fall down, smiling through the tough times, never taking no for an answer, and always asking the question, ‘Why?’”

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