A Winning Legacy
Young, dynamic, focused, goal-oriented and approachable – is how we would describe Jayanti Chauhan. This young heiress of Bisleri empire, who had earlier tried her hands in fashion styling and photography, is today taking her father's dream to the world.
Shivani Kapoor | March 2016 Issue | The Dollar Business
She is the heiress to the Parle-Bisleri empire. A former stylist, she dived into her father’s water world at quite a young age. Imagine the fashion styling and merchandise graduate taking charge in the boardroom of Bisleri, the first bottled water brand in India, which has about 60% share in the Indian packaged water business. Meet Jayanti Chauhan, Director of Bisleri Group and daughter of India’s packaged water king Ramesh Chauhan.
Ask Jayanti how it all started and she says, "My father never forced me to join his business. Nor was it a planned decision. Since I was always interested in art, fashion and photography, I went ahead to pursue studies in these fields. After I finished university I worked a little bit in fashion industry before I returned to India to start working in the Bisleri factory at the age of 24.”
Initially she worked from the Delhi office and three years later, she moved to Mumbai. During this time, she chose to pursue a Masters in Arabic from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “But I was always working with the company. I had left the country and not my company,” says Jayanti, putting the reports about her short stint in Bisleri to rest. She goes on to add: “I was running Vedica, Bisleri’s natural mineral water from London. I used to make trips to India every three months. I was running ad campaigns and overseeing marketing assignments through skype conferences and calls. I have always been an official Director of Bisleri throughout.”
Still young in business, Jayanti has already learnt some big lessons. “People management has been my biggest lesson. It is important to understand if your employees are happy, they are giving the results that you want, and that they have the desire to do more. That means you have a successful company. I feel that has been the key for me," admits Jayanti who feels being an employer is a big responsibility.
Junior Chauhan also believes it's good to have an informal environment in office. “Any one of my team members can walk into my office; we have an open door policy,” and this explains her being an approachable individual.
Working with her father to help grow the Bisleri brand, the Chauhan scion finds enough motivation from her iconic father. “Working with my father is truly a blessing. It is a treat to work with him. Not only do I get to learn from the best but we have a great time together as well," she admits.
A Leo, she is action-oriented and likes to do creative things. When she is not providing insights in marketing and branding, she likes to do photography. Addicted to trying her hands at creative arts, this fashion-loving leader is on her way to taking over the water world, the world around.
TDB: After considering careers in fashion and photography for five years, you decided to join your father’s business. What influenced you to take this step? What actually made you switch your mind?
Jayanti Chauhan (JC): Over a winter break, after college, I returned to India and started working in our factory in Delhi and found that I was really enjoying what I was doing. I found the environment of the factory incredibly stimulating. As I got more and more involved, I got clarity of what I wanted to do. My father’s business was a blend of creativity, strategy and developing killer instincts, the traits that I always aspired to excel at. And this is how I was prompted to join the company.
TDB: From runway to the boardroom – how has been your journey so far? What were the lessons you learnt in this transition? What did you learn from your father before taking over his water world?
JC: The journey has been incredible! I have learnt that instinct and patience play big roles in success as do genetics. It wasn’t easy at first and I did struggle, but my team has been extremely enthusiastic, therefore I feel I have a good support system in place. Also I’m learning how to manage people – happy and motivated employees give good growth. Working with my father is truly a blessing. Not only do I get to learn from the best, but we have a great time together as well.
TDB: In your opinion, what are the challenges and benefits of joining a family business?
JC: I was given a great platform to build on. However, one should not take that for granted because it is what you do with that foundation, how you make it even more successful than when handed over to you. That is success. And that will certainly qualify as a benefit to most.
I would say one challenge has been that people sometimes compare me with my father not even realising that he has a few decades of experience on me. But that’s ok, I like being held to high standards.
TDB: Has there been any turning point in your life that changed your outlook towards life?
JC: I would say almost everyday something happens that changes my perspective on life. Every day I learn something new. My father always says “the day you stop learning is the day you should be buried.”
TDB: We understand Bisleri is planning to explore international markets. What is the status of the overseas foray? What about exports?
JC: Yes, we have been exporting Vedica (Bisleri’s natural mineral water) to the Far East and Middle East, and soon Urzza (energy drink) will also start production in the Middle East.
TDB: How is Bisleri performing in the market? What kind of growth is your company looking at in the near future?
JC: Bisleri is doing very well across markets, and we are looking at a future growth of 30% plus.
TDB: Where does India stand globally when it comes to bottled water market?
JC: The market abroad is more mature in its understanding of bottled water, especially certain details like importance of high Ph value, mineral content, etc. But the Indian market is definitely catching up, as is evident from the growth of Vedica Natural Mountain Water, which is a high alkaline natural (untreated) water.
TDB: Does bottled water have higher growth potential than other beverages?
JC: Most definitely. Water has been scientifically proven essential for a person’s health and I think most people don’t drink enough water. Another important observation is that now the population across the globe is moving towards a healthy lifestyle. I definitely think all these factors contribute to the growth of the bottled water industry.
TDB: Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) – that's been quite a problem for bottled water manufacturers...
JC: The problem lies in their ability to implement their standards correctly. Implementation process needs to improve.
JC: I view fashion and photography as art forms, a way of expressing yourself and hopefully your expression moves people in a good way. I love doing creative things, and luckily I get to do it every day at work – whether it be through ad campaigns, billboards, website designs, graphics, or developing new products.
TDB: Today, we talk about empowering women. Your views?
JC: Women empowerment actually means not having to use phrases like “women empowerment” – but of course that kind of utopia is hard to achieve. For now, we should start with changing the mindset. There have been too many limitations set on women. We can accomplish anything we set our minds to. There is no weaker or stronger between men and women. We are yin and yang in balance.