Aparna Piramal Raje serves as a columnist and author at MINT, one of India’s leading business publications. She also writes for the UK Financial Times and is the author of Working Out of the Box. Piramal Raje is a thought leader in business and design, two areas which she weaves together through her stories and research.
What are the keys to your success as a writer, thought-leader, and an author?
Finding an original voice and subject area, which, even though it was niche, gradually drew an audience. Even more importantly, being supported by editors who got me and my ideas. And of course, having access to relevant subjects is invaluable.
How did you make the jump from business to writing?
My pregnancy was planned, but my writing career was not! I started getting published a few months after I had my first child, and soon figured out that I liked it enough to turn this hobby into a profession. It was harder than it sounds — changing professional identities is always a challenge, and I had great mentors to advise me as I pivoted from the business world to journalism full-time.
What advice would you give young women early in their careers?
Just make the most of your twenties because this is your time. Spouses, in-laws and children may follow later, and there may be other claims on your time. For now, pursue your goals and don’t be afraid to ‘prototype’ yourself by trying new avenues to discover your essence! Start your career with a bang — early professional success will give you confidence, skills and courage.
Who are your role models?
In a highly patriarchal society, role models make us believe in ourselves, so that we can grow and thrive as talented professionals and pass the baton onto a younger generation over time. I’m very lucky that my mother Gita Piramal is my writing guru and one of my toughest critics — which is awesome. Lynda Gratton, a professor at the London Business School and a family friend, is a global thought leader and very inspiring as she is able to successfully pursue research, teaching, writing and speaking. I’ve recently discovered Tenzin Palmo, a Tibetan Buddhist nun, whose voice is wise, courageous, and balanced — a rare female leader in the spiritual world. And there are a few corporate CEOs whose authenticity and energy are always a draw.
What was your favorite part of the Wonder Girls book? Why do you encourage readers to pick up a copy?
These are real stories for young women. The book is accessible, inspiring, and full of very interesting women. I wanted to meet each one of them and learn more about them! I think every adolescent girl in India — and her parents — should read this book. It will help redefine the gender equation in every household and enable young women to dream of life outside their homes and schools.
I loved the story of Nilparna Sen, a former drug addict who turned her life around to become CEO of a fitness chain in her mid 20s. She spoke with such candour. Also, there were several stories of young women being raised by single mothers – hats off to both mothers and daughters. Lastly, the stories of those who took some time to figure out what they really wanted to do resonated with me because I had a similar journey.
Thanks to Nitisha Baronia for editing this article.
To read Varsha Adusumilli’s Wonder Girls on the Juggernaut app click here.