This week we invited yet another passionate womenpreneur Dr Ruchi Sogarwal for an interview with us to understand more about her entrepreneurial journey. She is the Co-Founder, Director & CEO At International Institute for Human Development (IIHD), an enterprise committed for UN sustainable development goals. Let’s learn more!
Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Dr Ruchi:
Tell us a little bit about yourself (background) and your journey as a women entrepreneur, please;
I am a multi-faceted passionate serial entrepreneur in healthcare and development sector; worked across Government, NGO and Corporate. I am Co-Founder, Director & CEO of the International Institute for Human Development (IIHD), an enterprise committed for UN Sustainable Development Goals. I am also a Co-Founder of Healthy Lives Foundation and BBVM. I earned a PhD degree in Epidemiology, trained in Public Health and Biostatistics (University of Michigan) and a certified Global Business Manager (Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta). So far, I have 40+ policy/scientific articles published and have been recognised expert by the WHO (Geneva), NWO-WOTRO Science (Ministry of Education, Culture & Science, Netherland) and Centre for Global Health, Oregon State University, USA, and many more.
I have taken 3-major entrepreneurship and innovative initiative in the last couple of years, connecting Business and Social Impact, i.e. (a) AppleHills – an integrated child development solutions (education, health and nutrition) in tier-2, tier-3 and rural areas – based on B2B, B2C & B2G model (b) MyLifeBuddy – life design centres – ensuring quality lives while transforming behaviour, focused on career and livelihood; health and nutrition; legal & rights and relationships domains – this is also based on B2B, B2C, B2G model (c) SolutionNlab – consulting services to support ideas, people and organizations in transforming their vision into reality through excellence in knowledge and skills and helping to design and deliver solutions for sustainable impact. Since we believe that in order to have a long-term and sustainable social impact; strengthening ecosystem partnership is the most essential strategy. Hence, we become a catalyst to connect within Government, NGOs and corporate and professional associations for skills/talent and solutions.
Recently, we set up our footprints in Europe accelerating technical excellence – to pilot, validate and scale-up innovations – as well as the financing models while connecting Business Case Matrix into the Sustainable Development Goals. In the coming years, our focus is to grow our business in emerging markets. Very soon, we will be having our footprints in African countries across integrated health management space.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship over a job?
There are multiple reasons. I belong to a middle-class family and we were always told to study well and get into government job so that life is secure. I followed the same path and worked for the last 15 years across Government, NGO and corporate organisations. However, during my job tenure, I always felt something missing, which is making me compromise on my values. Values related to my dreams, my passion, and my why? Though I did very well in my job and achieved great success; still I decided to completely switch over to fulfil my real-life goal that is to do something for impact, for the wellbeing of the citizen. Any employer, irrespective of large corporations or local companies can’t provide that canvas. I was never interested to earn more, but it was more about the exhilaration.
What gets you out of bed in the morning i.e. what’s your source of motivation?
Good Question. I would say not just in the morning but at night, it usually happens. I am always fond of figuring out something niche or new, which may create a proposition for me and the public at large. I usually keep this mode on all the times, and it serves the source of my motivation all the time, that drives me every day.
What challenges/obstacles did you face in your journey so far?
Every business has risks. Our risks are associated with a right skillset that we look for expansion in future. We already have a core experienced team, but I see from future expansion perspective, we would need innovative minds, with the flexible thought process. Since our plans are to focus on tier 2 and 3 cities and rural areas and create more entrepreneurs, hence we have initiated skill training with clearly defined goals. We are confident enough that we will mitigate it.
What comes first for you – money or emotions?
I am an emotional person. Business needs to have emotions, not personal, obviously, but business ones like concern for quality deliverables, client satisfaction, targets and roadmaps, you planned and how you will achieve it, etc. Above my emotions, I give more emphasis to my employee and team’s emotions, because without them the company can’t reach the desired goals. Money is obviously the priority but I believe if your value creation process is right for others, the money will automatically come as an outcome of it.
How do you handle the pressure and manage stress?
The pressure is common nowadays and it is good to some extent but pressure leading to long-term stress can affect your mental wellbeing. Hence, either in the job or as an entrepreneur, we need to practice how to manage stress. There are multiple strategies that I practice, such as reappraising negative thoughts, meditation for restful mind, spending time with my family and friends, solution-finding approach etc. Lastly, communicate to the customer/client, if I can’t accomplish the task in the given deadline. Most of the time, it has been appreciated for being open and transparent instead of compromising on the quality of product or delivery. Remember, no deadline is bigger than your lifeline.
What is one strategy that you believe has helped you grow as a person?
In my journey so far what has helped me immensely is the lean methodology. I always follow three principles in life, which helps me to grow as a person, i.e. Live your dreams, Trust yourself and Standup for right. Invest in your learning always helps a lot, at any stage of life.
In your opinion what are the keys to success?
There are a few and you can learn it on your way up. In my journey, I learned three keys to success: First is, Set goals aligned to your dream; Second is, Invest in your knowledge, irrespective of what age and level you are, and Third is effective communication.
In my opinion, there is only one mantra for entrepreneurship, i.e, JustDoit. Don’t wait for any mentor or investor or day to begin. “Now” is the right time, “YOU” are the right mentor and investor for your own idea. Rest all (mentor, investor, partners etc) will join. So, promise to create your own pathway because we all have our individual Journey, our own baggage and our own meaning of success.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as an aspiring women entrepreneur?
Everybody in the world is working on deficiencies and everybody has solutions for each deficiency. That means everybody has a great mind to create value unknowingly. So, first advice to aspiring women entrepreneur is that please decide a WHY to start a business, that means purpose-driven start-up. The second advice is, Be ready to enjoy your struggles to create your own path. I always believe and work on a tag line ‘add value to get value’. Don’t focus primarily on money or investments but keep your focus on creating a sustainable venture and value creation. I believe, rest things will automatically set with time.
Few lines to my friends – young, peers & seniors – who are in the journey of entrepreneurship…
If you are starting up a venture, feel free to reach out to us. You will find us a great partner or mentor to you with innovative means.