From prof to Biz Wiz, fashioning herself a New Avtar

Saundarya Rajesh is known for her success in social and conventional entrepreneurship. She narrates her journey.

Published: 12th June 2016 03:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th June 2016 03:32 AM   |  A+A-

Many dream of being entrepreneurs. Some even have that inexplicable bug before they are old enough to graduate middle school. But for others, entrepreneurial success is something they never dreamed off. “I want to be a rockstar!” they think. Some might have even want to be professors.

Saundarya Rajesh, founder of Chennai-based talent consulting and HR services group AVTAR, wanted to be just that. An English Professor. “If you had asked me then if I would be an entrepreneur, let alone a successful one, I would have laughed,” Rajesh smiles.

For Rajesh, one of the women in the Government of India’s Top 100 Women Achievers list, her story of entrepreneurship and success seems like a series of half accidents. “I did BA English Literature. I was happy being lost in the world of Keats and Shakespeare,” she recalls.

From Prof.jpgFate would have different plans. The first nudge came from her father. “He suggested I do an MBA for my post-graduation. I completed it and immediately began working at Citibank. That lasted for three years,” says Rajesh.

But she wanted a position where she was the boss of her own time. Rajesh decided to do what she had always dreamed of. She became a college professor at the MOP Vaishnav College for Women. Not teaching English however, even though that’s what she applied for, but Management.

The position gave her loads of free time. “I dabbled in a lot of things. I was a producer for All India Radio and Doordarshan, I wrote, but I also began consulting for talent drives and HR,” she says.

By 2000, she knew what she wanted to do. She founded AVTAR. “While we do regular HR services and that makes us money, my abiding love has been in my two other ventures - both of which enable women to pursue careers on their own terms,” she says.

It was her work in that field that has gotten her the acclaim she now enjoys. But she is very clear about what got her there. “For women especially, we need to be totally intentional about what we want to do. There has to be purpose. I would say, do not take up entrepreneurship unless it is the one thing that you are absolutely certain you can and want to do,” she points out.

Your economic engine has to be strong. Do not get mired in getting funds and pitching for them. Valuations are not important. Build your business one sustainable step at a time  Saundarya Rajesh, Founder, AVTAR Group

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