Work to Rule
Mid-day,  31 May 1999

Non-conformist, adventurous and ambitious, these young women have created their own jobs and are loving every minute of it!

It is sad but true that not everybody amongst us can afford to make choices. We may be the most creative amongst our peers, but circumstances may compel us to live by the rules. Take on conventional jobs, hop onto time-bound trains to reach there, wiggle in jam-packed discos for entertainment and finally mercifully retire to a lumpy bed. But opportunities do abound. And a little initiative, a healthy dose of enthusiasm and ambition to be differently successful can go a long way into creating work lives that suit us instead of the other way around. The three success stories: 

Nirali Sanghi, Age: 31, Job: CEO, DataMagic Websolutions, created website:

Nirali Sanghi set up her own website seven months ago. A degree holder in economics and computer science from Barnard College, New York and MBA in finance and marketing from Columbia Business School, New York, Sanghi worked as vice president, Citibank, New York before coming back home and starting her own organisation.

"I wanted to spend more time at home, since I had a baby. I decided the internet was best for me; it is intellectually challenging and offers flexible hours. My greatest help is my husband, an internet consultant. In this business, even six months is like a lifetime. Every month makes a difference - there is so much happening in this field. One must capitalise on it."

"My website has 1,800 pages of content. It's a storehouse of health information on pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, developmental milestones and common childhood illnesses. There's an entire section devoted to older women who want to get pregnant. They can surf the fertility section. We also have a panel of doctors whom they can ask anything they want. To help parents teach their children Indian traditions, we have nursery rhymes in various Indian languages and Indian prayers of different religions. We also have party games and children's movie reviews. And 2000 baby names and what they mean."

Shilpa Ketkar, Age: 26, Job: publisher-editor of Science Around

Shilpa Ketkar is an electronics engineer by qualification and is the publisher-editor of Science Around a popular science magazine, targeted at secondary school students and brought out in English and Marathi.

"Though originally started in 1991, it was relaunched in July 1998 in Marathi and English. It has a circulation of 5,000 copies today. Earlier, I worked as an associate editor for a children's magazine, but science was my first love, so I decided to start out on my own.

Science begins at home with simple processes, though children are taught the subject only in schools. This is where simple reading helps. Our magazine has two columns interacting directly with kids."

"The venture was very difficult financially, but my father has immense trust in me and has helped me throughout. But we need more time to stabilize.

Though we have minimal advertisement support, we have received support in many ways. Ceat Tyres subscribes 500 copies every month for a year. Some schools make it a point to read a page from the magazine after their morning prayers, while others put up the information on the notice board."

"I have some distinguished contributors like Dr. Jyoti Vora and Dilip Salvi, a national award winning writer for children and school teachers. I also have donor subscriptions of Rs 1,000 and above where poor children who love to read but have no money, are gifted the magazine."

"There was no job satisfaction in the work that I was doing earlier and that is the main purpose of doing any job. At least for me. I am extremely happy that I chose to be different. It is still an uphill task, but so what? One day I'm sure I will reach there."

Atika Nagpal, Age: 24, Job: Health food manufacturer

Atika Nagpal learnt the values of healthy food at her mother's knee, but it was when her mom was spared of an operation because of a changed diet that she realised the importance of nutritious food, and more importantly, the right food.

Today she has her own outlet in Vashi and markets her products under the brand name, Exotik. Her products are also available at the health food shop at Pedder Road and American Dry Fruit stores, the Talwalkar Gym at Wardern road, various Shell shops at petrol pumps, Rustom's at Colaba and several other gymns as well.

"My mother used to make these low-calorie snacks on a small scale a few years ago and that's how I developed an interest.

I started on a small scale but when my products were accepted, I expanded operations slowly." Nagpal also studied financial management from Welingkar Institute of Management Studies at Sion to help her with her business.

"I am a creative person and wanted to be independent. It's tough work. I really slog. From painting the labels of my products and designing stickers, I do everything I can to cut these extraneous costs."

"I also do the marketing and distribution myself. I specialise in cereals and I personally go to the counters, talk to my customers as to what they need and take suggestions from them."

"Right now, I am experimenting on some new products with soyabean. I'm also working on some products for children like Ragi Sweet, rice ladoos. I think I can safely say that I have made a dent in the Mumbai markets. Now I have started supplying to Pune, too."

"I started my work life as a trainee at the Taj Group of Hotels. But I did not enjoy it. I wanted to do my own thing and I was pretty sure that I would be able to do it. Sure it was back-breaking, but my family stood like a rock supporting me."

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