She is 40-plus-something. Her thoughts are as sharp as an arrow. Her first business partner was her father. She was only 19 then. She got married at 20, became a mother at 22. Her 19-year-old son Ashish is doing his BBM now.
"You know, for Marwaris the business acumen is infused in the blood the moment we are born," Neetu V Bansal's take-off when OneIndia caught up with her on the eve of International Women's Day.
Her father hailed from Rajasthan and mother from a village in Kashmir, which went to the Pakistan side after the Partition.
Wondering what's so special about Neetu? Well, read on.
Like any other small-town girl, Neetu too dreamt of making it big one day. She picked up early threads of business fundas from her father.
"I miss him. He backed every step I took in my life. There can be nothing bigger than a father's support to a daughter. I was truly blessed to have his backing. Even when I fell in love..., yeah... I told him first...," recalls Neetu.
Neetu's action-packed story has all the ingredients a novel writer could probably borrow for a real-life thriller. There's challenge, hope, drama, betrayal, anger, emotion, defeats, triumphs and many more.
"I use to give up at times in the past, but as life started adding more surprises, I decided no more looking back. Nor more dull moments. No more giving up. Never," she says. Her eyes wide open; hands firmly together -- signaling the power of her flight-path.
An all-women team powering the life of many
Today, Neetu is the Head of Vibrant HR Services, which is primarily a head-hunting firm. Operating out of Bengaluru's J P Nagar, Vibrant has some of the big corporate houses on its rolls.
The nine-member-all-women team of Vibrant is an idea Neetu says has stuck together purely due its out-of-the-box work philosophies.
"It's not an overnight exercise. Lot of people helped me at different stages of my life. Some move away without even wanting a ‘Thank You' nod," she explains.
Neetu started her career with the Citi Bank as a young officer coordinating with ATMs in Bengaluru.
"I had to ensure that the ATMs were spic-and-span, all the time. Then I moved on to tele-marketing. And when the dotcom boom happened, I got involved in the share market and played the role of an investment advisor. I later moved into sales and marketing of technology products," says Neetu.
It was a one-woman army in 2003
In 2003, the world of HR lured her and she set up Vibrant. "That was the beginning of many adventures in my life. It was a one-woman army first. Hiring a place was the biggest task and when a woman steps out to set up an office, one can imagine what all she had to face! I have gone through many ups and downs, but never would I want to be a loser. I don't like failing. I have taken hits in my life, but every hit has made me stronger," she adds.
First day in her dream office (on hire), Neetu received a rude shock. Moments after occupying it, a team from the bank came for an inspection and informed her that the building was under litigation.
"I was asked to vacate within a week. I was shattered. That's probably the first time I cried like a baby in many, many years. But I quickly realized that tears won't bring cheers to your life. Even when destiny played really cruel with me in the last 10 years, I never cried. It made me stronger," says Neetu, a fitness freak.
Facing the heat of recession of 2009, Neetu had to cut short her team from 16 to a few. "When your businesses nosedive you go clueless. To hold on with hopes, you need God, goodwill and guts," says Neetu.
At Vibrant, everyone is a young mother. Everyone came from different backgrounds and has dealt with different work cultures. All team members have taken break from working owing to marriage, brining up children. Most of the Neetu's team members work only half day at office and the second half is logged in from their homes.
Second Innings - an idea takes birth to celebrate womanhood
With an aim of empowering women through employment and financial independence, Neetu launched a unique initiative christened Second Innings recently. "This is a community project designed to give stay-at-home-mothers\daughters\wives an opportunity to build a second career. There is a huge community of women who are looking out for projects that they can work on alongside their responsibilities at home," says Neetu.
Second Innings is an online community connecting experienced women who have taken career break to organizations who need their experience and knowledge. This can be for either flexible or permanent employment.
"Additionally in today's world of tight budgets, and looming deadlines, this pool of experienced women candidates can easily and quickly be engaged for short term projects too. Challenges with head count approvals can also be easily resolved with a Second Innings project," says Neetu.
No disadvantages being part of all-women team
Neelu Chawla, a consultant with Vibrant and Second Innings, says that there are no disadvantages of being part of an all-women team.
"I have realized that there's nothing women can't achieve. Second Innings has made me realize that there is life beyond competition. It brings a lot of satisfaction when you know that little effort can bring a big difference in someone's life. I believe that this concept should be an official part of the Corporate Social Responsibility of companies," says Neelu.
Only three months into launch, Second Innings has over 700 registered members on their FB page.
Rakhi Sen, a Senior Consultant at Vibrant feels that an all-women team is truly inspiring. "We understand each other's problems. We are probably more sensitive to HR-related issues. I don't see having any disadvantages. We might miss the viewpoint of other gender, while discussing on some topics," says Rakhi.
For Rashmi B V, a Senior Consultant with Vibrant, getting the first payment after a break of five years was an unforgettable moment. "It is not about money, but the feeling of getting back and achieving success. And, there is no substitute to it," says Rashmi.
Another Vibrant member Siddhi Joshi, a Consultant, says that working from home offers less stress, more productivity and better health. "The stress of commuting in the traffic in rush hours can be avoided," she says.
When asked about her team's plans on March 8, the International Women's Day, Vibrant boss Neetu said: "Every day is Women's Day. Isn't it? It's time to once again salute the spirit of womanhood, which withstood every possible tests of time."
Photos: A Veeramani
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He occasionally strays away from his preferred beat and writes on general issues as well. He tweets @writetake.)