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Radhika Piramal serves as the Vice Chairperson of VIP Industries, India’s largest luggage brand. As a savvy business executive, Piramal has been shattering gender stereotypes and the glass ceiling in India, one suitcase at a time.

Radhika has been one of the early readers of the book, Wonder Girls. “I blazed through the book in two days flat! I think every high school girl in India who can read and write English should read it and every English medium school library should keep a copy of Wonder Girls,” says Radhika.

Varsha Adusumilli, author of Wonder Girls, recently sat down with Piramal to hear about her journey, her advice for early career women, and her thoughts on the Wonder Girls book.

What are the keys to your success at VIP Industries?

I believe in tenacity, good judgment and the right balance between creativity and commercial focus. All the “Wonder Girls” featured in the book talk about persistence, grit and tenacity, which are most important attributes for success in any field. Persistence leads to experience, and experience leads to good judgment and confidence.

Do you notice any patterns of strengths in the young women you work with at VIP?

Young female professionals at VIP impress me with their dedication, ownership and intelligence. They think through complex problems holistically and find practical solutions. Their communication skills are excellent. I look to hire women who demonstrate a strong work ethic and a positive team attitude. I can train anybody for specific industry or functional experience, but attitude and motivation come from within!

What’s your key advice to aspiring young women who are early in their careers?

My two pieces of advice are (1) be bold when asking for job responsibility, promotions and increments and (2) find a senior ally in your organization who will champion your name among senior leaders. Statistics show that men get promoted faster and earn more than women, even in their early twenties. Men chase hard for promotions and increments because they are the primary breadwinners in their families, while women sometimes de-prioritize their careers over family responsibilities. However, if women continue to treat their own careers as secondary, they will lose in a competitive world. I encourage women to fight for growth as much as men do.

Who are your role models personally?

My mother and my wife. My mother is a PhD and an author; she taught me how to apply and focus my mind. From the age of six, she encouraged me to study hard and to read books for fun. My lifelong love of reading and ability to concentrate helped me do well in university, in business and to better understand the world. My wife helped me both gain confidence as an out lesbian and learn not to worry about what people think of me. She has been financially independent from her family since the age of 18. She served in the navy and moved countries twice, first from the USA to the UK and then from the UK to India. By her example, I feel I have become a stronger, prouder feminist!

Why should readers pick up Wonder Girls? Which stories from the book spoke to you the most?

The stories in Wonder Girls are inspirational – the book will open doors for any girl who reads it. Wonder Girls explains many diverse career choices in an easy to read and relatable manner while giving practical insight into how to break into different fields. It showcases so many interesting careers beyond what parents or teachers typically talk about. My two favourite chapters were about Rugby Captain Neha Pardeshi and Flight Commander Rucha Nirale, since I would have loved to perform better in sports and to fly a plane!  

Thanks to Nitisha Baronia for editing this article.

To read Varsha Adusumilli’s Wonder Girls on the Juggernaut app click here.

 

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