The Woman who tossed aside her entrepreneurial voyage's professional glitches: in conversation with Dipali Sikand, Founder, Les Concierges Group
These are the stories that were never heard of!! Today, women entrepreneurs in India represent a troop of women who have shattered the glass ceilings of the corporate world and have navigated their way out from the beaten track and are exploring new avenues of economic participation. Among the reasons for women to run organized enterprises are their skill and knowledge, their talents, abilities and creativity in business and a compelling desire of wanting to do something positive. Women entrepreneurs are a significant part of the global expedition for sustained economic development and social progress. It took a long time to walk out from Kitchen & Kitting to wind up at Power n Profession. Indian women had undergone a long way and are becoming increasingly visible and successful in all spheres of the corporate world. Women entrepreneurs are fast becoming a force to reckon with in the business world and are not only involved in enterprises for survival but to satisfy their inner urge of creativity and to prove their capabilities. Today's women are flourishing as designers, interior decorators, exporters, publishers, garment manufacturers and still exploring new avenues of economic participation.
Among those handfuls, this approachable leader celebrates herself as a woman. She cruises her entrepreneurial journey of incorporating Les Concierges and Club Concierge – with clarity, passion & confidence. Dipali Sikand, the awe-inspiring founder of The Concierge Group, one of India's preeminent Concierge service providers, joins The CEO Magazine's correspondent in a candid and exclusive interview. She discusses her unique and incredible entrepreneurial legacy and succession plans and some never before revealed aspects of her personal life.
Every successful woman entrepreneur is truly determined to achieve goals and make her organization prosper. What was your take over your dream as a business lady? How do you push the culture change throughout the company?
My dream was and is to see a unique set of attributes that develop as a result of an innovative profession. To elaborate, one knows the inputs and outputs of steady professions such as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, and accountant. But to be able to carve out a new profession: Concierge and to build an industry around it and then to build a professional acceptance of the role of a Concierge in main stream business, this was my dream and I am happy to see it blooming and grow. My work involves creating disruptive, innovative, creative engagement programmes and experiences for ahead-looking clients. From planning & strategizing to implementing & optimizing fruitful measures for the current and future marketing investments of my clients, my work requires me to provide a contributive climate to my team for delivering the best.
What stimulated your ideas to start a new business venture or to bring significant changes in an existing business/at work place?
Opportunities stimulate my ideas always. To create a unique service, to bring convenience or create delight, to help people engage with their stakeholders better, opportunities where the measurable results can be measured in happiness and better more fruitful relationships; this is what stimulates me to start new niche solutions within the ambit of what we do.
How do you define success and whom do you attribute your success to? What is your take on the ways to achieve long term success? Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Time. Team. Family Friends and Faith. There is only one true success — to be able to spend your life in your own way. I'm inspired by the moment. I live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate my friends. Continue to learn. Do what I love. Live as if this is all there is.
What is so exclusive about the Concierge Group that has brought so much success in a country of more than a million people? What business problems it has successfully solved?
You cannot continue to apply old fashioned models in today's hyper linked and hyper aggressive environment. Gone are the times where customer experience was built using production assembly line techniques. Long gone are the days where companies can advertise and tell their consumers what they are going to experience with their product or service. Using a canned customer service programme today possesses inherent dangers. Aged era customers had few options had to satisfy with they got. Companies looked inward at what worked for them, and became self focused and not customer focused. CRM systems were designed to identify profitable and non profitable customers, based on which the location of resources was done. No one actually understood the SOUL of the customer, what they loved and what they hated. At Club Concierge, we reengineer customer engagement using a concierge mindset. Today we power many companies that want to improve their outcomes with their dealers, customers and even residents
Our other company : Les Concierges: is focussed on engaging employees of forward thinking HR friendly companies and is the world's largest and finest work/ life benefits provider that introduced the world's first corporate Concierge program in 1998, Les Concierges services over 600 clients at 1300 client sites catering meaningful on-site work focused Concierge services to over 1.5 million employees with a blanket presence at over 17 global cities. Our services here are limited only by imagination, to that which is ethical and morally correct! We ensure an employee's 24 hours are best deployed to doing that which is critical to them and the company, while we handle their "to-do" list faster & more efficiently, Our onsite Concierge are an employee's personal assistant, travel guide, entertainment adviser, home maintenance guru, errand runner, party planner.." all rolled into one. Les Concierges is the only company offering an integrated "loyalty program" including Concierge, travel, rewards and benefit fulfillment functions which can be easily customized to suit specific client needs. 'The only limit to our services is your imagination and we will take on any request, provided it is legal and ethical. This is the finest employee benefit that addresses & resolves real issues such as employee productivity, retention & stress. Our client companies are therefore able to aggressively address hidden costs of employment which inadvertently affect company their bottom lines.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
My greatest professional accomplishment is to have carved three unique markets for application of the Concierge mindset.
On the employee front: that the Concierge is now an integral part of work life balance in over 500 companies not only in India but in far off countries where we operate for e.g Egypt, Nigeria and Philippines.
On a residential front: that the Concierge is now the purveyor of happiness in 100s of residential complexes : Godrej, Tatas, Ireos and so many other top builders realsing the huge added value the Concierge brings their properties.
And now more recently, and with a huge impetus, the application of the Concierge mindset is being used to transform guest, customers, members experiences with intelligent personalization that only a Concierge mindset can bring. This application has huge bearings on how companies can deliver an unprecedented level of guest service and personalization.
What is the best decision you've ever made? What effective strategies you have implemented/initiatives you have taken to achieve success?
To follow my passion and let common sense rule. The one effective strategy that works for me is in knowing, loving and understanding people. To me all business no matter what it may be or where it may be, from manufacturing pipes in Lesotho to carving vegetables in Phnom Phen, all business and all success in business is about people relationships and if you focus on ensuring your niceness prevails ( no one can train you to be nice ), you will always be successful.
What are your ideals? Where do you get the strength and the stamina to deal with all these different entities that you have to make sure do well? People are looking at you and watching you.
My ideals are 4 P's which are:
Build your company like you'll own it forever. Building a business is not a hobby that funds your lifestyle. Therefore while you love what you build, ensure every step you take in building your business is taken with the idea that the value you are creating is measurable RIGHT NOW. Every day you have a chance to opt out of your business–to sell it, close it, or change it. That's the great opportunity of being an entrepreneur. If you can't measure the value that a buyer would see in the business, it is very possible you are not building a valuable business. Passion Rocks but Common sense Rules
It is crucial that we recognize that we are in the business of people no matter what we do. Be it being a Concierge like me or flying airplanes or building high-rise buildings. Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, Banker. Always start with KNOW WHO YOUR CUSTOMER IS: You may be tempted to start with your logo, website, message, pricing, or methods of approaching your market. Resist these distractions. Get clear on your customer. If you really want to build an amazing company, you need to be crystal clear on who your customer is. Where does she eat, shop, walk, visit online, and follow on social media. What does he worry about, pay too much for, and scrimp on as he makes his purchases in life. Always start with your customer. If you feel yourself getting stuck in your growth or having problems in your business plan, don't check your reports and spreadsheets. Go sit with customers.
The world today is about innovation and creativity. It is not necessary that it must be a new product or contraption that promises eternal life and makes you thin over night. (Well I hope one of you will invent that 🙂 ). Taxis existed before. They existed in every nook and corner, every street, every city, every country. But there was only one Uber who looked at the opportunity with a new perspective: and made a company today worth billions of dollars. So all I say is change the way you look at things and you will find your answers. I did.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY 🙂
Profit can't be delegated–Inventors like to create. Accountants like to count and technology people like to play with new tools. Regardless of your bias, the one part of your business you cannot delegate to someone else is the vigilant focus on generating profit. Profit is oxygen. It's your job to keep the oxygen flowing. Do your own math–The stories of mishandled bookkeeping, accounting and reporting are LEGION. "I don't understand the accounting side of the business very well…" is an unacceptable approach to running your business. Do your own math and you will understand your business. Of course you need accountants, auditors and bookkeepers- but make certain you do your own math when you look at all of this information.
How many hours a day you work on an average?
When you love what you do then your work stays for 365 days 247 !
Have you ever failed in your initiatives? What have you learnt from your failures?
If I had not faced challenges; I would never have been able to create again. My journey of the ups and downs has been so addictive and my need to create more initiatives which deliver value so strong.
No one succeeds without failing. It is in failing that you learn about success. I look back today and see what seemed to be end of the world was really not the end of the world. As they say what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly! I can confidently tell you that it is the failures that we have had that have resulted in our ability to innovate and further create new values. Don't ever be embarrassed by failure. Don't let failure ever stop that ever quenching drive and vision you have as an entrepreneur to create the product or service you love. Even if you are the best of the best: there is always a chance of someone coming around and being better. If you love what you are doing you will continue to BELIEVE in yourself and will do it again.
Do you think your personal life is affected by your professional life? How?
Of course and pleasantly so! Being an entrepreneur, you cannot wear two masks: you are what you are round-the-clock and your family gets to grow and go with you on this journey. Of course I have heartaches when I am caught up with work and can't attend a parent teacher meeting, plus there are times I want to do nothing more than run home and play with my dogs. Heartaches yes, but would I do this any other way? A big No! I have no regrets.
Looking into the future, what are your plans for the same?
I do map out my future but I do this in pencil!
It is 2017 and women have proved time and again that there is nothing that they cannot accomplish. But isn't that kind of the point that women still need to 'prove' it? Is it hard to be an honest businesswoman in India? What do you think is the biggest challenge to female leadership?
The biggest challenge is thinking gender. There is no difference between challenges to any gender It is the mind that makes these distinctions. The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are and the next is being happy with what you find.
Thank you for answering this interview. Would you like to share your secret success mantra with our readers?
Yes certainly, before that I would like to thank your team for giving me the opportunity to answer your thoughtful questions. I would like to suggest the Successful people willingly do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. Think of yourself as on the threshold of definite success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Go for it ! Achieve! Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The fastest and surest way to be successfulis to invest in yourself
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