“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” are the words uttered by none other than Nelson Mandela. A young girl from Delhi, Neeti Macker, aspired to be more than ordinary, and after traversing a career dotted with experiences in the varied fields of corporate, and education, she found, as she says, ‘her heart’s calling’ in the role of an entrepreneur. Thus, began her journey in a unique niche of home interiors, some 20 odd years ago. Today, the lady not only has stellar projects in her repertoire of achievements, but prestigious awards and numerous accolades for her contribution in the space of interior designing. The inspiration called Neeti Macker shares with us at Woman At Work the story of her feats, challenges and her invaluable insights about what it takes to achieve one’s dreams.
Tell us about your growing up years and your education.
I had a very balanced and happy childhood, was an extremely disciplined child. Belonging to a family of educationists, the environment in the house was quite conventional. Parents had a large role to play in my career choices initially. I therefore graduated with a management degree and like most others landed myself with a 9-5 finance job in a large corporate. But within a couple of years I realised that wasn’t really my heart’s calling.
I am a peoples’ person, love to travel, create, explore, think unconventional, and challenge myself each day.
How was your career/ entrepreneurship journey?
I started my career in finance with a corporate, soon moved to consultancy and then teaching at a premier B school in Delhi. Still felt something was amiss in my life and I wasn’t really happy and excited enough. That is when I decided to explore, travel the world to find something interesting enough to grab my attention and soon found myself venturing into home interiors space with retailing and later manufacturing of modular kitchens and wardrobes.
My entrepreneurial journey since then has been a roller coaster ride, but extremely gratifying at most times.
What are the challenges that you’ve faced along your journey and your mantra for success?
It certainly wasn’t easy for me, as I set out establishing a business in a field largely unknown back then in India. I was the only woman entrepreneur and amongst the select few to have ventured into manufacturing and retail of modular kitchens in 1998. Kitchens were the most neglected area of any household, and women did not have much say in construction and interiors of their own home. I was a young entrepreneur, in an unknown domain, so obviously faced a lot of resistance initially from my suppliers and clients. However, once people realised I knew my job well and meant business, I began to get noticed.
My mantra for success is very simple: believe in yourself, learn as much as you can, be a good listener and observe things around you, love what you are doing, be an expert in your domain and never ever give up !!!
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
All my projects have been extremely dear to me. We like to give each one of them our best shot. However, yes, a few always become special milestones in one’s life. So, one such project was the Commonwealth games village, where we installed kitchens, wardrobes and doors. This was a very prestigious project for us, and came pretty early in our professional journey. It was indeed a feather in our cap, and many such prestigious projects followed thereon, both in developer and the premium residences segment. I am glad to have worked with renowned architects over the last 19 years and completed projects PAN India.
Receiving the “Business of the Year” award at the onset of 2017 and being felicitated by the FORE alumni as “Entrepreneur of the year”, a couple of weeks ago, was certainly a milestone in my life. I feel extremely lucky to have been recognised as a contributor to the Industry in some way.
Another extremely dear project to me, now, is my latest e-commerce venture, kitsforhomes.com, which is into online selling of residential modular furniture and its components . It is something I am passionate about and I am now focussed on making this a success soon.
Any role models?
I meet so many amazing people from all walks of life each day. They all have such different experiences to share, that there is so much to learn from each one of them. So defining one single person as my role model would be difficult for me. However, my mother had truly been my biggest role model. She was an extremely high spirited woman, with a never give up attitude.
What does it take to motivate you every day?
The fact that I love the space I am in, is motivator enough. I look forward to each day at my job. It’s giving shape to people’s dreams that keeps me going. The accolades that follow at times, keep me on my toes to perform even better. Each day I like to challenge myself and set standards a notch higher than the day before.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is a state of mind. Set yourself a larger goal, and smaller targets each day. As you accomplish them, rejoice in the glory of success, while preparing yourself for the next level. True success to me lies in being happy in what you are doing.
What does “me” time for you mean?
“Me” time for me could be a lot of things. Depending on the situation, it could mean spending fun time with my kids and my loved ones, catching up with friends or even a quick solo getaway to the hills or to goa to read or to write. I love to listen to good music every day and manage to squeeze in some time to exercise 2-3 times in a week. That to me is such a stress buster.
What is your advice to women professionals?
Don’t ever stop dreaming. Life is full of surprises. I really believe in the law of attraction. Just remain focussed and listen to your heart’s calling, and success is bound to happen, sooner or later. Do what gives you happiness. Of course as professional women we constantly need to juggle and be good at multi-tasking, but aren’t we made that way?
One needs to have a healthy work life balance, and for that one has to learn to prioritise at all times. And while you take good care of your family, career and social commitments, do remember to take care of your health too.
Wear that brilliant million dollar smile, and you will win a million hearts too!!!