By, Sayak Karmakar
Sangeeta Mohanty, Director of APCL
Entrepreneurship is a challenging task. The task becomes more demanding when the entrepreneur(Gender Agnostic Entrepreneurship) is a woman in a patriarchal work ecosystem. However, it’s your work and not your gender, which makes you a leader, says Sangeeta Mohanty, a successful entrepreneur in real estate.
“There is nothing called men and women. We are human beings.”- Sangeeta Mohanty, Director of APCL.
In an exclusive interview with her, Sangeeta talks about the authentic meaning of women empowerment and gender equality and the bright scope of the real estate sector in Odisha in the future.
Q. Tell us something about your childhood and educational background…
I studied in both ICSE and CBSE boards in my school life. Till the eighth standard, I was a student of the ICSE board and studied at St Vincent’s Convent School in Balasore and then for my 9th and 10th standard, I shifted to CBSE board and studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya.
After my schooling, I shifted to Bangalore. There, I did my 11th and 12th and also my five-year degree course in architecture. After that, I also worked in L&T for a year. Later, I returned to Balasore.
Q. You are the second generation entrepreneur/director of APCL. Was it your passion for family whim that turned you towards entrepreneurship?
My father influenced me. Since childhood, I was amazed to see his entrepreneurial skills in dealing with clients, workers, and having high accuracy in real estate purchases.
He was the person who taught me to work hard. He always said that the biggest thing in life is your reputation as an entrepreneur. The only way to better it is by working hard.
And you see, entrepreneurship is in my blood. My forefathers have been involved in some businesses. So, I(Gender Agnostic Entrepreneurship) was destined to become an entrepreneur with my hard work and perseverance.
“Sucess is first what you do for yourself and then for the others in need.”
Q. How difficult was it for you as a woman to take charge of such a big organization?
To be honest, the initial period was very tough. Irrespective of gender, I(Gender Agnostic Entrepreneurship) feel if you are not worthy enough to bring ideas on the table, you will not be considered as an ideal leader by your team members.
Gone are the days of royal thrones and silver spooning. I(Gender Agnostic Entrepreneurship) started my career very early at the age of 24. So, it was only through hard work and trial and error method, through which I tasted success.
As a woman, yes, it was very difficult to be a leader of a purely male-dominated niche. There was a section of people, in office as well as in the field (especially the labourers) who didn’t use to listen to me at all.
But I(Gender Agnostic Entrepreneurship) always kept in mind that my work is to get the job done. So, it was through the combination of perseverance and friendly nature that I started gaining the confidence of all my employees.
Even at ACPL, in the initial period of me taking overcharge, I saw that women were restricted to clerical jobs only.
However, today, with proper training, education, and execution of planning, we have women employees in managerial posts as well.
Today nearly 40 per cent of our employees are women, which is excellent for a tier-II town like Balasore.
Q. What, according to you, is gender equality?
For me, gender equality means giving equal opportunity to a person to show his/her potential, irrespective of sex.
Today, we see that in every sphere of professional work, women are giving tough competition to men when it comes to the success and failure ratio.
Still, in the majority of the families, whether literate or illiterate, a girl is subjected to secondary treatment to a boy. This needs to stop.
“Rules of failure are the same for both men and women, but when it comes to success, men get more applause and cheers.”
Q. So what, according to you, is the perfect meaning of Women empowerment?
The ideal meaning of women empowerment depends on how you educate the masses. (Both men and women). Women do not require free education or free seats. We need the basic right for education and the fundamental right to travel safely in any public transportation.
For me, women empowerment also means educating women to treat men properly. Today, we(Gender Agnostic Entrepreneurship) see in many cases; men get subjected to ridicule because of the false notion of gender equality.
Q. How do you think the condition of women in rural India can develop?
My answer will be the same. There is a need for the proper education of women, irrespective of where they belong- cities, towns, metros, or villages.
Also, there are a lot of government schemes coming up like Shakti Kendra, which provides enough scope of education to both men and women in villages about family planning, health, and the importance of women in work life as well.
Q. How has been your experience with ACPL?
It has been a wonderful experience so far. I love the job of being a director to such a reputed company. Not only at the desk, but I also love to contribute to the field as well with all my architectural knowledge.
Q. What is the scope of the real estate sector in Odisha?
Odisha has an immense scope in real estate filed in the coming few decades. It is an economically growing state. So unlike metros and big cities, where there is a saturation of buildings, apartments as well as industries, here in Odisha, we have abundant spaces for making great infrastructure.
Q. Any set-off goals for ACPL in the future?
Answer- Yes, we are in the process of making two high rise cost-effective buildings for industries – one at Balasore and one at Jajpur. Also, we are in the talks of building a shelter home for stray and abandoned pets.
Q. How do you manage to free yourself from stressful work life?
I love taking periodic breaks after 2 to 3 months. If those breaks are short will love to have a long drive. I love driving. And if the break is long, I love to go on a solo adventure trip.
Q. Any advice to young entrepreneurs?
Always have the determination to succeed in your profession. Never fear failures. And yes, proper education is the most necessary thing to have in your kit if you want to start a career in entrepreneurship.