But breaking the mould and going against stereotype are the efforts and sincerity of some of Pune’s distinguished youngsters, who though born with the proverbial silver spoon, have put in hard work to live up to the names that they were born with.
This young lot is well polished and outspoken. They would not think twice before putting in their whole and soul into their work. Today, they carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders; and yes, they do not stoop with the load of the work. Their heads are held high and eyes shine bright with hope for an even brighter future. This is the story of five young zealous entrepreneurs, who today stand tall; no doubt they have defined their path virtuously. Wearing their hearts on their sleeves are Pooja Shah, Rinul Pashankar, Jhelum Rele, Daniel Dorabjee and Ashwin Shetty
Their one commonality is that they are all from the second generation of their established families, who have taken up the responsibility of keeping the family business going. Rinul Pashankar is the Director of Pashankar Automotive’s Europa Skoda and handles Pashankar Publication Pvt Ltd and Media House. Pooja Shah is the Fashion Director of More Mischief. Jhelum Rele is the founder and owner of the Vismaya store. Daniel Dorabjee is the Director of Dorabjee Estates Pvt Ltd. Ashwin Shetty is the owner of Amrapali restaurant.
Like other youngsters, they all had their phase of confusion and struggle; the time when what profession to choose seems a tricky matter. Isn’t that the case with most of us? Daniel Dorabjee was kind of a chilled out chap, not really serious about work. He did a degree course in interior designing. Daniel says, “As I was growing up, I never had any focus. My main focus was business; I just thought I will get a background of the work. The course opens up your mind.” He was sure he did not want to work as an interior designer, since he wanted to be his own boss.
Ashwin Shetty’s case was somewhat the same. His father was in favour of him studying hospitality as he wanted his son to take care of the family business. So, Ashwin did a course from the Taj Catering School, Aurangabad. Says Ashwin, “I joined the Taj as a compulsion, but, by mid-second year, I realised that I was actually good at this and thus started enjoying it. I gave it my 100 per cent, picked up all the theory. I learnt the tricks of the trade from my father though.”
Rinul was also faced by a dilemma for a while. She graduated in business management and went to Australia to complete her post graduation in project management. And that, she says, was the turning point. She says the course did not click with her. She left the course, decided to take a vacation instead. She travelled through the land of kangaroos for the next four to five months and then came back home.
But the other two young women were sure of what they wanted to study. Pooja Shah studied Fashion Styling and Communication from Milan. Jhelum Rele, hailing from a family of lawyers and fashion designers, was always sure she wanted to be in either of the professions. And, she did them both! After studying law, she got a pre-placement offer from AZB & Partners, a renowned law firm where she worked for two years. It was in 2010 that she came up with the concept of the Vismaya store.
It won’t be wrong to say that all these youngsters quite knew where they would land up one day. The family business was always an integral part of their lives all through their childhood and remains so today. Looking up to one’s parents’ hard work and dedication always proves an inspiration. They too were always awestruck with the amount of effort their parents put into the family business. Pooja says, “At the time when fashion was not an established industry, my dad created a revolution with ‘More Mischief’. He brought in affordable and creative fashion. Dad has worked hard. All this really fascinated me. My grandma also used to design clothes for me. So, in a way, fashion was always there.” It’s little wonder then how much sincerity and hard work these young people are putting into their work today!
Jhelum has quite a long lineage of fashion, one can say. Jhelum says, “Grandpa always had a tailoring machine at home. He used to stitch dresses for me when I was a kid. All my relatives on dad’s side are lawyers. So, I pursued law as an education. But I definitely wanted to be in the fashion industry for the whole my life, and not law.”
These young women were always sure they would join the family legacy. But the men seemed unsure for a while. Ashwin’s statement sends this message, “When I was young, I was never really interested in the business. But I do have memories of visiting various restaurants that my dad would manage. For my brother and me, it was all just about getting every kind of delicious food whenever we wanted it.” He points out one incident that he vividly remembers till date. Ashwin recalls, “Once, I was punished at home for breaking something. My dad made me go to Amrapali on a daily basis for a month. So I ended up hating the line even more because it was a punishment. I never understood anything that was going on or how things functioned. But by the middle of my second year at the Taj, I could relate to the theory and the practical that they taught us, because of that one month I spent at Amrapali. That’s when I started figuring out how things worked in this line and knew that this would be my career.”
The kick-off to your professional life always is a tough transition. Completely a learning phase, it comes with its fair share of trials and tribulations. They were all lucky though in the fact that it was from one of their parents that they got to learn the tricks of the trade. Daniel remembers his initial phase, which was the recession time. Daniel sighs, “I started from a bad patch. Literally, for days, we used to just sit idle in office; no one used to turn up.” Only once the recession period subsided could he breathe a sigh of relief. He says, “I used to sit with dad every day. I used to observe what’s happening, how he handled lawyers, clients and others. In his cabin, tonnes of people used to turn up. All these things you cannot learn in studies, you learn them this way only.”
For Rinul too, it was no different. She says, “I used to accompany dad for his meetings and other conferences. I noticed his ways of dealing with people and situations.”
Ashwin treaded the path systematically, taking up every good opportunity that knocked on his door. He says, “I took up the management of the Elevate Lounge and Restaurant at Pimple Saudagar. For the last three years, it was my job to set up, hire the right staff, manage the restaurant, maintain the quality and eventually hand over the management to the owners. A lounge is a challenge; you have to manage the crowd and make sure everything is in order. Pimple Saudagar at that time was practically unheard of, but we managed to get the crowd from Camp, Shivaji Nagar, Kothrud, Aundh and Baner.” He now takes care of his own restaurant, Amrapali, on a full-time basis. He certainly remembers his father’s words when he says, “My dad would always say, ‘Understand the pulse of the crowd.’ That is what I always bear in mind. Because if you can’t give people what they want, you’re obviously in the wrong business.”
Jhelum says “I was getting a very good package at AZB. That time with law fashion industry was also my priority. I never wanted to do something run-of-the-mill. That was when I came up with the concept of Vismaya.”
Today, they all are deeply rooted in the family business. The perplexities seem to have been left far behind. Now they know where they are headed; they also know how they have to take their business forward. Things certainly look sorted now and everything is headed on right track for them! Daniel today handles every aspect of the company, except the finances. His position as the Director of the company expects him to be in the office at mornings and at the construction site at evenings. Daniel says, “Now I’ve charted a schedule for myself. This is the starting point in my career. So I’ve made all other things revolve around my work. Dad always says, ‘Whatever we make, we are happy with it. You have to balance both professional and personal life.’ I see to it that I don’t work after seven in the evening.”
These kids surely know how to run the business hand-in-hand with their parents. At Vismaya, Jhelum takes care of all aspects, especially sourcing and public relations, whereas her mother controls the technical aspects. The fashion designing part is taken care of by the mother and daughter duo. Jhelum is also an avid traveller; she seems to draw inspiration through this. She says travelling broadens her horizons and she knows what’s happening where.
All five multitask very well too. Rinul is juggling between three professions—the marketing aspects of Pashankar Constructions, the media house and her directorial job at Europa Skoda. Rinul says, “I’m more of a team person; sometimes I have to be authoritative though. The automobile industry is a very set one. It’s a different ballgame altogether. The team here is more mature; I get to learn a lot from them. The media house work is the exact opposite; it’s like my baby, my foundation. It’s a fresh young team, which tries to come up with innovative ideas.”
The not-so-interested-in-the-family business kind of attitude carrying Ashwin is completely devoted to the business today. Ashwin says, “It’s been a learning experience and very hectic! I have had to give up on a lot of other things like chilling with friends, partying, birthdays, anniversaries. I don’t have the luxury of getting out on a Friday or Saturday night. I follow my dad’s belief that whatever project or restaurant that we take up or own, we have to personally be there 24/7, to make sure that the quality and standard is maintained throughout. Hence, the sacrifice of a social life! All this aside, this is the profession I love and I hope to add value to the hospitality industry in Pune.”
The young try to incorporate pioneering concepts into whatever they do. Pooja is doing exactly the same. She channels and personally handles the loyal clientele that the brand has. She takes charge of keeping everything up-to-date and making the brand more consumer-centric and technical. In short, she brings in an amalgamation of what’s happening internationally and what the clients demand. Pooja smiles, “The brand has a lot of maturity, to which I try to bring in young blood. I want to draw in a lot of younger clientele. I am more inclined towards a mix of Indo-Western fashion. Our brand has its own style; keeping that in mind, I try to incorporate new things.” Her study in Milan encourages her to infuse Italian styles, cuts, etc, into the jackets and formal wear. Pooja goes on to say, “I’ve been exposed to a lot of fabrics and design. I bring in these new concepts like knits and reversible jackets in our brand. I also introduced wardrobe management. I’m very experimental in my clothing; I would want people to do the same.”
Experimentation is the key word, because all these youngsters are no doubt applying the same in their businesses; always trying to make a difference in the industry. Ashwin says, “Hospitality is about innovation and having that edge over competition. We keep experimenting with food dishes, the style of presentation and service. We also try to market our restaurants and events in different ways. Not every new idea is a hit; some are successful, some are failures. You just have to learn and use the ones that work, and discard those that don’t.”
If all of the above sounds like too much work, let’s put an end to their professional facades and delve a bit into their personal lives as well. It comes as a small surprise then when I say that both the men are really crazy about workouts; they go to gym religiously. No wonder, they look so fit! Ashwin has many more interests, he says, “I love sports: football, basketball, cricket, table tennis and pool. I play whenever I get the chance. Also, I love spending time with animals. We have adopted stray dogs at the restaurant several times. Just being with them and looking after them is a good feeling. And whenever possible, I also feed other strays on the streets.”
Jhelum loves travelling, and more so because it acts as a source of inspiration. This young lady seems to be completely immersed into the fashion world. She will read a fashion magazine but no novel. And next to her bed is a Lonely Planet keeping her company. Rinul is a woman with loads of interests, and she certainly finds the time for them all out of her busy schedule. In school, she was a table tennis player. Recently, she started paragliding. She has flown in Australia, Himachal Pradesh and Kamshet. Rinul sounds excited, “Paragliding is excellent! The experience is different. It’s like meditation. And every flight is different.” That’s not all; Rinul is also learning poi dance. Quite a multitasking person, eh! Pooja too takes interests in playing the guitar and loves sports cars.
Next, of course, we take into consideration their future plans. Ashwin says, “There’s one thing I would like to introduce. We don’t have a lot of places in Pune where people can bring their pets along. I would love to start a cafe or something on those lines in the long run.” Won’t that be an awesome thing to have in the city, if he really starts one? Well, Pooja is quite a daddy’s gal. She is hopeful, “My biggest dream is to take my dad’s dream forward. I’m lucky I’ve all this; my dad created all this. I want to make him proud. I would want to be an additional strength to this brand, and not replace him.”
Here it was; an overview of the busy professional lives of the successful second generation entrepreneurs of today. Their parents are known for their work in the city; so are these youngsters trying their level best to maintain the work and the name. Young Puneites surely have rolled up their sleeves; and yes, the result is right here.