A Mover And Shaker In The Relocation Sector
When one is referring to movers and packers, the image that comes to mind is a bunch of stocky muscular men hurling giant-sized packages through inaccessible passages. One would hardly associate a petite amateur Kathak exponent like the one in the photograph above to be at the helm of affairs in such a world. Meet Aakanksha Bhargava – fast becoming quite the mover and shaker in the packing and relocation community. At 29, she the only woman in a leading move management company called PMR Pvt. Ltd. In this candid tête-à-tête with MYB, Ms Bhargava talks about her company and how she came to be a successful entrepreneur.
I was born in the 'city of joy' – Kolkata from where I shifted to Delhi in 1992. I have been living in Delhi ever since. Life in Delhi has been a rewarding experience because it is here that I learnt to think, where I made new friends, met my mentors and married my childhood friend – Sumit Bawa. The city imbued in me a sense of passion that I have for everything I do. It honed my personality and transformed me into an independent, competitive professional and vibrant person.
I completed my schooling from Tagore International School and went on to graduate in commerce from Hindu College. Subsequent to that, I did an MBA from SP Jain School of Management, Singapore and Dubai with a focus on business management during my years at SP Jain. Once I had finished my MBA, I knew that I was ready to face the challenging world of the service industry – relocation in particular. I wanted to make a mark in this sector.
The relocation industry has always fascinated, perhaps because I admired the way my father went about helping people move their household goods from one place to another. I began to reflect on it as a career option. And it would be remiss of me not to say that my father has been my biggest inspiration because he continues to encourage me to raise the bar even now.
I joined PM Relocations Pvt. Ltd. (PMR) shortly after my MBA in 2006. I began my journey in the relocation sector as a manager in international sales from where I went on to handling corporate sales, marketing, operations and other verticals of the company.
I am what I am because of my mother. She has been an anchor, always supportive of my co-curricular activities. Apart from family, I admire the work and life of Mr Eric Lim, head, Asian Tigers Mobility. He has groomed, mentored and guided me all these years.
PMR is the brainchild of my father. His love, passion, hard work and commitment lead me to join, strengthen and expand the company. Being able to transform the lives of others has always been very important for me. The company today is at a stage exactly where I wanted it to be.
But the service industry, particularly the relocation sector in India is a male bastion. To manage male subordinates and employees, as well as partners and clients was proving to be a formidable task initially because male workers have an indifferent attitude towards their female superiors. But my constant interaction with them made them realize that I meant serious business. Sheer perseverance, patience and conviction enabled me to spearhead the company to success. My biggest challenge was to come out on top.
My proud moments have been getting the Pan American International Moving Association’s (PAIMA’s) Highest Tonnage Award in Asian Region for sending the maximum cargoes for the past four consecutive years and being recognised for the contribution towards the Entrepreneurship Report on behalf of PMR by the Indian School of Business (ISB). I was also nominated as a member of PAIMA and IAM's board.
When I joined PMR, there were around 40 people working there. In a span of 8 years, that number had risen 10-fold to 400+ employees. As our manpower increased, so did our business. We expanded to the 7 cities of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and Bhubaneshwar between 2008 and 2015.
Time can change a lot of things, situations, circumstances but it can never take away your will, courage and determination to chase your dreams. It can make or break you but cannot stop you."
There have been many projects and clients who helped us stay afloat initially like Airtel, Britannia, Shell, Amdocs and the American Embassy, but cracking Shell was my biggest challenge given that I had just joined PMR. Hard work aside, it was very important for developing our business.
Like any company, PMR has had its share of peaks and troughs in the past. Some of our not-so-proud moments were initial delays in credit payments, giving salaries, not having enough contracts and being unable to pay the rents. We eventually did manage to beat the odds.
Today PMR is a INR 35 crore company, from being an INR 2 crore when I took over. Our employer-employee office relations are so sound that we can boastfully claim to have the lowest attrition rate in this industry. To top it all, I am the youngest CEO in this industry in the country and the only woman spearheading a complete Indian mobility company.