Strong women leaders have seen an upward trajectory decade on decade: Vineeta Singh

We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. W-SUITE is a special initiative from Adgully that has been turning the spotlight on some of the most remarkable women achievers in M&E, Advertising, Marketing, PR and Communications industry. In the refurbished series, we seek to find out how women leaders have been managing their teams and work as well as how they have been navigating through the toughest and most challenging times brought about by the global pandemic.

Vineeta Singh, CEO and Co-founder of SUGAR Cosmetics and an IIM Ahmedabad/ IIT Madras alumni, declined a top dollar investment banking placement offer over a decade ago to start her own venture. Having served in leadership positions at various other multi-million-dollar businesses since and successfully building India’s largest beauty subscription service along the way, Singh co-founded SUGAR Cosmetics in 2015 with a single-point agenda of creating world-class make-up products with high-pigmentation that specifically catered to the Indian skin tone.

In conversation with Adgully, Vineeta Singh, Cofounder and CEO, SUGAR Cosmetics, speaks about how women can be role models and entrepreneurs, advice and mantra for maintaining work-life balance, lessons she learned as woman leader and more.

How do you think the role and scope of women leaders has widened in the current market ecosystem?

While India has always seen strong women leaders, I definitely think that their number has seen an upward trajectory decade on decade. The outlook for business in India is undoubtedly changing, women across the spectrum are now introducing innovative business models, which I think is fantastic, as this echoes a rise in women entrepreneurship. Today, there is a lot more awareness around how women can be role models and entrepreneurs. Women are now taking their companies public, they are creating companies that are more than a billion dollars in valuation; and the assumption that women are not capable of doing these things, has stopped coming up in mainstream conversations. More than providing skills and training programmes, what women need to see is more women succeeding and their success being celebrated to inspire others.

What has been your major learning from the pandemic period?

The COVID-19 outbreak had all of us rearranging our lives like never before. The major challenges we faced were after the lockdown was announced in March 2020 – the company’s warehouses, retail operations, and logistics came to a halt; our new launches coming from international manufacturing units were stalled. Additionally, it was really difficult to navigate the uncharted waters of working remotely and co-ordinating with teams across verticals. Hence, we ensured to focus on the bigger picture and restructured strategies so we were able to hit the ground running as soon as the lockdown was lifted. Additionally, a big learning for most brands during this period has been the change of approach. Brands started using a consumer-first approach and curating products to meet their ever-evolving needs. As consumers moved to an active digital space, our focus has been on curating content that caters to educating them on product usage and benefits.

What is your mantra for maintaining a successful work life balance in the new normal? According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?

My biggest advice and mantra to myself and other working women is to invest in self-care. Learn a new skill. Read more and schedule some “me time”, try to stay fit and spend your downtime unwinding with your family! On a daily basis, I make it a point to go for a run, this me-time helps me centre my focus and heighten my energy for the long day ahead. I look forward to my workout sessions, to control my energy levels and drive out the lethargy. Also, having an energetic team that keeps you excited about getting to work, problem-solving and building towards your collective goals is essential.

From handling the household to children and work, women juggle multiple roles and fulfil all their responsibilities efficiently and that is how they break the glass ceiling, push the envelope and achieve what they set their eyes on.

What are the five most effective leadership lessons that you have learned?

Over the decades there have been many learnings, but one of the biggest life lessons that I’ve come across is to always do what you love, find your passion and work on it every day. It’s crucial to realise the importance of hard work and have faith in yourself. At a very young age, I declined a plush Rs 1 crore job offer to pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. I trusted my instincts on choosing the life I wanted for myself and believed in it.

Gender sensitivity and inclusion in the new normal – how can organisations effectively encourage and groom women leaders in challenging times?

Women of today are the most powerful when they create their own destinies and fulfill their dreams. Along with that, they inspire others to achieve the milestones of their path to success. It isn’t a lack in skill or capabilities that is holding women back, but a lack of opportunity and confidence which needs to be addressed. It is essential for organizations to create a positive environment and understand how conducive it is to work in (one). Also, work-life balance should be given priority so that everyone can manage the multiple roles they play and feel supported while doing so, and this should not just limited to women in the company, but everyone who needs support. At SUGAR Cosmetics, we proudly employ 75% women out of our 2,500+ workforce, with the goal to reach 10,000.

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