She’s been India’s Tax Lady for over three decades, and Parminder Sohi Behuria is now the new Secretary General of the National Human Rights Commission. The 1977 batch Indian Revenue Service officer has worked across tax administration and public sector affairs. With a formidable amount of experience behind her, no one’s better qualified to give us advice on how to handle a career in India. She shares her top five tips for businesswomen, and no, they’re not about saving taxes:
One: Follow your heart.
“You’ve all heard Steve Jobs’ story. How he changed the face of consumer technology. How he introduced ideas following his heart. He was someone who read the market; not using statistics but by understanding the consumer’s needs. I love this quote of his: ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.’ Go with your heart. Be intuitive, empathetic and above all, be passionate about what you do.”
Two: Be flexible.
“Businesses that succeed are those that have responded to changes; they’ve adapted to the era of the Internet and social media. Newspapers have adapted by bringing out digital editions. Technology companies have gone from finding better means of mass production to finding more innovative ways of mass customization. That’s what any business requires – a flexible mindset. You’ll need to get out of your comfort zone. Be adaptive to change.”
Three: Seek opportunities.
“Do you see the glass as half full? Have that kind of positive mindset under any circumstance. Keep looking around to see what new innovations you can do or create. Every little thing in your life and environment is a source of inspiration – whether big or small. The best businesses are those that lose no time in grabbing opportunities.”
Four: Keep it simple.
“Look how the Google homepage looks. It’s so simple and easy to use, even a child can use it intuitively. And yet there’s all that rocket science behind it. Put in that amount of research and development into your work and projects, but at the end, make it so simple to use that it has the widest possible appeal. This is a very simple but great strategy to success.”
Five: Do more with less.
“Let me tell you a story. An Argentinian farmer wanted to plant a particular crop but realized he neither had the land, the labour or the money required for the process. So how did he solve the problem? He leased the land, used rented equipment and sub-contracted the labour. Start with an asset-light company; it will give you greater flexibility to improvise. Look for the easy way out in complex situations whenever possible. Don’t wait for others to come rescue you.”
(Photograph for representative purposes only)