Verve and Louis Vuitton Diaries #2 Manjula Pooja Shroff
Walking into the Delhi Public School (DPS) in Ahmedabad is like entering an oasis. The largely open-air campus is dotted with green areas, fun illustrations and quiet zones. From one such area emerges Manjula Shroff, the driving force behind this school and many others. Dressed in a flirty floral dress, she turns our attention away from the arid heat and right towards her playfulness and enthusiasm. Manjula is all for being unique and breaking barriers — something she has had first-hand experience with. “I call myself a hurdle jumper,” she states. “I have seen quite a few ups and downs in my life, but I think I’m a better person now because I didn’t conform to society’s expectations and instead decided to colour outside the lines, in a sense. I came from a very conservative family and community, where women were educated only until graduation, merely for the purpose of getting married. I decided that there had to be something more to life than that, so I decided to study after graduation and really make something of myself.”
As chairperson of the Calorx Education & Research Foundation, she has developed a number of DPS branches and other Calorx schools, including Visamo Kids and Prerna School of Dyslexics. “I came to Ahmedabad when contemporary education was barely existent. At DPS, we have changed and evolved the system of learning, introduced co-curricular education and even yellow buses for schoolchildren,” she says. Manjula has strived ceaselessly to be a good leader and role model but, because she began working with over 800 people, which included many highly-qualified professors, the fact that she was at a position of authority did not guarantee that they would all listen to her. “In order for me to earn their respect, I have to know everyone’s jobs even better than they do! Also, being an attractive woman can work against someone in a position of power, since people feel that you get special favours because of the way you look.” In fact, the magnetic leader used to intentionally dress plainly, wear spectacles and avoid experimenting with her look during the initial phase of her career, just so that people would take her seriously.
Today, however, she is fashionable and proud of it. Manjula describes herself as well balanced and a naturalist. With her clothing, she likes to mix fun and business-chic, which is apparent by the way she complements her vibrant pink dress with Louis Vuitton sunglasses and an LV bag, saying, “The brand is a solid one. They always maintain a seriousness towards style. I would probably pair this bag with a power suit, a pair of heels and a scarf.”