Known for diligent work ethics, energetic and dynamic nature, ever approachable attitude and her dedication towards work; Manju Yagnik is one of the few women professionals who has created her own identity in the ‘so called’ male-dominated real estate sector. Designated as Vice-Chairperson at Nahar Group, she plays a leading role in envisioning and formulating the Group’s strategies. With a keen understanding of the dynamic market trends, and her passion for planning and marketing various projects; Ms. Yagnik leads a strong team of professionals with a mission of delivering premium value to all stakeholders.
Ms. Yagnik is, today one of the finest examples when it comes to maintaining work and personal life balance. Besides her extremely busy schedule, she also takes keen professional and personal interest in the social, educational, sports and cultural activities. It was surprising to know that she has been a national level hockey player and has played and won various trophies for her state. She is passionate about rifle shooting and flying and owns a flying license as well. In a candid conversation with Team RealtyMyths, Ms. Yagnik described her journey into the real estate sector and what kept her motivated throughout her career. It was indeed an inspiring session. Team RealtyMyths wishes her all the success in life. Given below are the excerpts of the conversation:
How difficult was it for you to decide a career in real estate, given the fact that it is, primarily, a male dominated sector?
After completing my graduation from Kurukshetra University, I decided to use my skills in a profession that was challenging but yet matched my passion. The Indian real estate industry was once largely male-dominated, many large developer groups, real estate-focused lending institutions and private equity firms now have women in senior executive roles. Today, the fact that women in leadership roles bring an extra measure of multi-tasking, empathy, acumen, assertiveness and determination to succeed in a real estate business situations is being increasingly accepted as a given. Not just Real Estate but even in the field of Finance, Pharma, Science Research and even space women have proved by example that they can be on top of the hierarchy.
I have been associated with Nahar Group for over two decades. I entered the real estate sector purely because I was passionate about it and it seemed like a worthwhile challenge. It was a well-thought decision about my career and I saw growth in this industry which had great potential. Having an eye for detailing and quality and considering the complexity and precision required in this field, I found it very challenging to bring aesthetics out from brick and mortar. It also involved a lot of creativity and dealing with people in various fields.
Do you think real estate is a promoter driven business? How do you fit yourself into the frame? What value addition you do to make the sector work more professionally?
The real estate sector has evolved over the years and is no longer considered a promoter driven business. Professionals are taking over the responsibility to run the company on a day to day basis. The industry has undergone a process of consolidation during this period and the ‘green shoots are now visible’.
I have faced and overcome various challenges to achieve my vision. Success never comes instantly; one has to work towards it. I too faced resistance when I entered the industry which was male dominated but gender has never struck me as a factor for differentiation. I put in my seamless hard work and creativity not only in aesthetics but in the management system, pricing, sales, and marketing. I started applying strategies so that the systems were ready to face the future.
Facing challenges came easily and I credit this entirely to the value systems inculcated in me during my growing years. Entering the real estate sector was a conscious decision, and hence continuing in it for more than two decades of experience and success. Today, I personally look at various aspects of the business which includes planning, marketing, designing, and sales strategy giving me a bigger canvas, which I express through my projects.
Have you ever experienced any gender-based discrimination? What advice would you give to other female professionals who come across such situations?
I joined the real estate sector over two decades ago amidst a host of challenges in this industry. I took them on as an opportunity of learning intricacies of this complex business of real estate. It was essentially my positive “can do” attitude and determination that paved the way for my successful journey. I was constantly exposed to areas where some of the most critical and tough decisions were to be taken such as land acquisition, supervision at construction sites, negotiating with a host of vendors, marketing etc. That made me into a thorough professional and which today, sets my strength. There is always a resistance when you try to venture into a new field. Initially, I did face some sought of bias but that did not deter me. It made me more headstrong in making a name in the realty sector. Once I started proving myself with my strong sense of business strategies, I was accepted and applauded as a part of the industry. Today, women hold prime leadership positions and have proved their mettle in various fields including Real Estate. The realty industry has acknowledged the fact that women are naturally inclined towards this sector as they traditionally are homemakers.
There are still a handful of women professionals who have made it to the Board Room. Why is it so? Do you think the presence of a woman at the top makes any difference?
A woman in today’s world stands on the same pedestal as men. She is independent and intelligent enough to make decisions for herself. A broader market vision, positive, interpersonal and warm board dynamics, and increased corporate goodwill are what women bring to the table when they reach the upper echelons of companies. Successful and happy women communicate a feeling of empowerment for other aspiring women and are a source of inspiration to all. Women are today seen occupying senior positions in different business empires. However, a woman occupying top positions in a real estate business is a modern phenomenon and fast growing.
Which, in your opinion, are the most female friendly sectors? What lessons can real estate learn from them?
I believe women perform their best everywhere and there are no such sectors that are female friendly sectors. Although service sectors like Real Estate, hospitality, Retail etc., are some of the sectors where women are naturally inclined and perform well. Today, women in India are coming out from the comforts of their home and entering the corporate arena in large numbers. The women of today are educated, independent and empowered and take decisions for themselves and the family.
This, in fact, has benefited the real estate sector the most as we see a large number of women entering the sector and doing rather well for themselves. This bodes well for the sector going forward.
You must have touched many milestones in your career so far. Any achievement you want to share with us?
What was most satisfying to me was my role in pioneering our Group’s unique housing loan scheme in collaboration with HDFC in the past for customers, which brought huge relief and benefits. This scheme caught the imagination of the industry soon thereafter. Over the years, the industry and other related organizations have recognized my role as a woman leader in the Indian real estate sector. I had also the privilege of sharing my knowledge and experience with the real estate thought leaders of GCC countries, where, as the lead speaker at the First Annual Gulf Real Estate Fundamentals Conference 2008 in Bahrain, I spoke on “Real Estate Opportunities in Emerging India”.
Any advice or suggestions you would give to those who are looking forward to joining this sector?
My advice to women aspiring to enter the real estate sector is to be focused and committed with some degree of knowledge about the industry and should possess the qualities of a fighter and a quick learner. The realty sector is tough and complex and only the best reaches the top. One has to deal with people of different temperaments and skills starting from an Engineer to the last person executing his plans. I believe multi-tasking comes naturally to all women and this quality should not be lost but capitalized upon in order to work to their full potential.