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Women entrepreneurs can do better: Aakanksha Bhargava

SME Times

In the occasion of the International Women's Day, Aakanksha Bhargava - CEO, PM Relocations, feels that women, who want to be an entrepreneur, must have a long term goal in order to achieve what they want and then there is nothing that can stop them from excelling in their field.

PM Relocations is headed by the young & dynamic 30-year-old second generation entrepreneur Aakanksha. As the CEO of PMR, she is leading one of the most exciting and fast-growing businesses in India. Aakanksha joined PM Relocations Pvt. Ltd. (PMR) when she was 21 years old, as Manage - International Sales. PMR, which was already a successfully company by then, reached unconquered peaks under Aakanksha's leadership. With her clarity of vision, she brought immense efficiency, transparency and productivity to PMR's already smooth functioning. Aakanksha’s leadership saw that in just 9 years, PMR expanded its base to 14 offices across India, including Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The bottom-line grew manifold too. From a turnover of INR 2 crores in 2010 to over INR 40 crores in 2015, it is a huge, impressive jump by any standard.

Today, as the CEO of PMR, she is leading one of the most exciting and fast-growing businesses in India. To commemorate her outstanding achievements at such a young age, she was conferred with the very prestigious Best Woman Leader award at the Business Today SME Awards in 2015.

Excerpts from the interview...

Your company is one of the leaders in the Indian packing and moving industry. Please tell something about your group - PM Relocations (PMR).

Aakanksha Bhargava: PMR Is one of the leading relocation services company looking after end to end solutions across the world. With a network of 14 offices across India, and global partners across continents, PMR has been relocating over 10,000 families every year since the last 31 years. The bouquet of services include packing and moving of household goods, vehicle moving, fine art handling, storage and warehousing, settling in services, home search and immigration for expats. PMR breaks the trend of just offering packing and moving services , but goes a mile ahead in offering every possible service that one may need while relocating to another part of the world. PMR identifies itself as not just a packer and mover but a destination service provider, handling all requirements. The group doesn’t subcontract or outsource packing and moving work but have in-house packers and supervisors to assist people relocate as smoothly as possible.

You are a second generation entrepreneur, how you see the changes in your industry in India in last ten years?

Aakanksha Bhargava: I was always fascinated with the relocation industry, which turned into a career option for me. Right from the starting I saw my father help people move their household goods. Hence, after completing my schooling I applied for various colleges under Delhi University. Back then ‘The Hindu College’ embraced me into their family and gave me the opportunity to complete my B.Com (H) with them. Soon, I saw myself graduating and joining SP Jain School of Management, Singapore and Dubai to complete my management studies, ready to face the challenging world of service industry.

Today the industry is in the midst of radical change, one will eventually have to recreate the old businesses and implement innovations to make it prosper and flourish in today’s competitive industry. The need to understand change in the industry may seem obvious, but such knowledge is not always easy to implement. There have been numerous changes in both the industry and in my organisation in the last 10 years. The industry today has become much organised in comparison to what it was earlier. People today know what a relocation company is and look up for professional service providers when it comes to relocating their personal goods.

You had achieved the Best Woman Leader award at the Business Today SME Awards in 2015. In your leadership, PMR expanded its base to 14 offices across India in just 9 years. What is the most prominent and important reason behind the success of this industry?

Aakanksha Bhargava: The most prominent reason behind the success of PMR is my wonderful team. I strongly feel that one should ‘Create leaders by hiring and developing the best’! The key here is developing the best talent in the industry who understand your vision and are ready to merge their DNA’s with the company’s DNA. There have been many ups and downs in the past 10 years, it was a tough journey back when I started in this industry but together with experience , exposure, customer support and positive feedback; we made the company grow from 40 employees to 500 plus employee in a span of 9 years. Also, my own ambition and will to exceed myself helped me encourage my employees to also exceed themselves thereby contributing to the growth of PMR.

We are in the age of science and technology. How much technology has changed the picture of your industry in those years?

Aakanksha Bhargava: I have not been a technology leader so far but I am well aware of the role that science and technology plays in building up any business. Science and technology have always been advancing our industry and helping throughout. Hence, we have now partnered with a technology company who would be helping us digitize our internal processes and accelerate our growth. Currently we are looking to build and grow both our B2B as well as B2C segment. We are also looking to develop an application for our clients and customers so that they are less hassled about their entire moving and settling-in experience.

Changes come with challenges. What are those major issues?

Aakanksha Bhargava: Expanding a traditional business was an uphill climb but what was equally challenging for me, I wanted to excel in the field women seldom venture into because I believed this to be something that can be worked upon. One of the biggest issues was that the journey was tough since in India it is considered a man’s job to deal with suppliers, labour, packers and, in fact, for that matter premium clients as well. "Time can change a lot of things, situations, circumstances… but it can never take away your will, courage and determination to chase your dreams. It can make or break you but cannot stop you!!!" is what I believed in back then.

Getting work done by male subordinates was difficult initially. People didn't take me seriously. But when I constantly interacted with them, they knew I meant serious business. I learnt a lot about the industry and the market. Hence, through high level of commitment, patience and conviction I was able to spear head the company to success.

One of the biggest challenges was to source people since we were stagnant for all those years, not many from the industry wanted to join us and fresh blood didn’t know about this industry. Over this period , I had to lead by example at all levels right from selling to building the brand, to keep upgrading the processes and systems with increasing work and manpower, setting up a professional culture and most importantly all of this had to be done in budget since we have not been funded by anyone. The business demands a lot of working capital whereas we work on credit; hence balancing the same was a challenge.

What government can do to help this sector?

Aakanksha Bhargava: First of all, I would definitely say the way budget had been presented by the government this year is really appreciable. The budget actually considered and addressed the pain point of our industry by reduction on corporate taxes, declaration for the infrastructural expenditure on roads etc. ; clearly showed how crucial government decision can be for the industry growth. There are few things which can work out if the government is also participating fair enough in the development of this sector. The government can work on the following.

• National road network should be improved. An efficient road network ensures low breakdown and better shipments.

• Subsidies on adoption of the technology, transport, freight and warehousing.

• Emphasis on skill developments through NSDC

• Dearth of skilled manpower- Drivers, packers, loaders

• Ensure resources are available and adequate allocations

• In order to keep pace with the growth and new requirements in the business, it is important that technologies are embraced.

What are your future plans. Please share.

Aakanksha Bhargava: PMR wants to be recognized as a one-stop service provider with all relocation needs looked after. The company is planning to work on a larger scale in the future and that is why is constantly improving the working standards, similar ones which will have details on making your move simpler and easier. We are looking forward to extend our business to few more cities. We are looking at strengthening our foothold in the Global relocation market too. We have done few of the high-end art moving as well as exhibition assistance for top galleries and hence want to expand our Art moving division catering to a larger market which is currently a smaller unit in comparison to other sections. An app for PMR is on the cards as well.

On this 'Women's Day' any message from you side for those women who want to be an entrepreneur.

Aakanksha Bhargava: Always remember, if you have the intent, you can achieve everything you want to. Be passionate about what you do and stay focused. I believe one must have a long term goal in order to achieve what they want to and then there is nothing that can stop you from excelling in your field. One of the best things you can do as an entrepreneur is to make sure your team grows with you. We as women have a lot of strength and courage that can make us achieve everything we have ever thought about and the sensitivity to change lives. We must ensure we change it for better.