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CORPORATE CZARINA [DNA : Daily News & Analysis (India)]
[June 28, 2014]

CORPORATE CZARINA [DNA : Daily News & Analysis (India)]

(DNA : Daily News & Analysis (India) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) "The Godrej sisters, Tanya and Nisaba are strikingly different from their larger-than-life stylish mother Parmeshwar. Media-shy, both sisters have been working efficiently in the family business, taking their legacy ahead. And while Tanya has been handling the marketing for the Godrej Group as executive director and chief brand officer, it's her younger sister Nisaba's motivating corporate story that could well script a film.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 2000, Nisaba spent a year in Godrej's home insecticides joint venture and another in human resources before shifting to the Group's inaugural attempt to make tea. But that business was a big failure and she went back to study further at Harvard Business School.

"It was a huge failure, an expensive way to learn about the realities of business," she said later. On her return to India, her first board placement was with Godrej Agrovet, a diversified agribusiness subsidiary of the Godrej Group. At that time, the company had expanded beyond its core and all the new businesses were highly unprofitable. How she made the company that was on the verge of collapse turn around with the help of HBS classmate Mark Kahn (the first foreigner Godrej had ever hired in a leadership role) in a few years is what makes Nisa's journey both fascinating and inspirational.

During the Agrovet episode, she met with huge resistance from senior company chiefs, including her father Adi, but she overcame these obstacles to triumph. Since then, this savvy entrepreneur has played many roles in her family business. She has been strategising the global expansions for Godrej Consumer Products and is currently re-imaging the group through strategy, design, product innovation and human capital experiments. Recently, she was in the news for investing in Hopscotch, a Mumbai based e-commerce start-up selling children's products.

On the personal front, Nisa's discreet wedding last year to Kalpesh Mehta, a Wharton graduate who runs a real estate venture in India, was a family affair. She had a baby this year - three-month-old son Zoran (fearless in Persian) is the youngest office-goer in the family. Baby Zoran has been accompanying mom to the Godrej office in Vikhroli and has his own nursery in the office.

"I have been trying to balance motherhood and my work. I took Zoran a few times because I was able to set up a nursery for him there. I am lucky to have the support and infrastructure to do this. I think it's important companies provide women with support at such a stage n their lives." Still on maternity leave, Nisaba is mastering the fine art of balance, as she continues to work, baby in tow, carrying on her corporate show.


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