Roshini Sanah Jaiswal
Promoter, Chief Restructuring Officer of Jagatjit Industries
Not only was she a woman navigating the minefields of entrepreneurship at the turn of the century, Jaiswal was doing so in a field that was dominated by men — opening her first lounge bar in Bengaluru in 2000,
Jonathan Ananda writes about her journey to the top...
Coming from a family that owned one of the largest IMFL companies in India did not mean that Roshini knew what she wanted to do when she finished college. Never was it assumed that she would enter the family business. The only expectation, she recalls, was that she “make her own way.” “In my family, it was expected that we would have our own careers and stand on our own feet. When I finished college in New York, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I worked in several fields including Real Estate and Advertising. but it was not until I came to Bengaluru that I stumbled upon it,” smiles Roshini.
That eureka moment was the realisation that Bengaluru, a city that was fast becoming one of the most cosmopolitan in India, did not have a single bar that was classy. Out of that thought came ‘180 Proof ’, often pointed to as one of the first establishments that turned that city’s night life into what it is today. “My friends thought I was crazy to open a bar, especially one that was 4,000 - 5,000 sq ft big. But it worked,” she recalls. “Those times there wasn’t much credibility or honour in the field. But I wanted to make these outlets into places where women would feel as comfortable as men to come and hang out.” This was a business that required constant interaction in an environment where men reigned supreme. Roshini recalled instances where there were vociferous protests, when she had to walk into police stations late at night because one of her employees had been picked up for no reason.
“A woman in this role was unheard of, but it worked in my favour because many people did not know how to deal with a woman,” pointed out Roshini. The bar was followed by a succession of restaurants — Chez Aliyah, Raasta food and Sri Thaliwala in Bangalore in 2002. F-bar in the Qutab area of New Delhi in 2003. But the traditional dilemma that afflicts women in the workforce struck. “My son was a couple of years old and I wanted to take a sabbatical for a few years to spend time with him,” she recalled, adding that she does not believe in ‘multitasking’. “You really cannot be in two places at once,” she put it. But two years later, she was back, this time as Chief Restructuring Officer for Jagajit Industries, as challenging a role as any. “At one point or the other. My husband fills in when I cannot with be with my son, even though we are separated. We balance it out. And that it all important, because we still make it work. You need that support structure because you can’t be good at both things,” she concluded.