Aparna Ponnappa – REDD Network
After a really successful business venture, in my teens, in Delhi in the fashion garments space, and when I was still in school I took the ‘professional’ route. I graduated in commerce and did my MBA and then got myself a job!
I had my professional qualification in HR from XLRI Jamshedpur, after two and half years of managing HR for about 8 Businesses Units of Grindwell Norton which is one of the Engineering Companies of Saint-Gobain, India I made a switch to Retailing with Titan Industries. Post that I have had various positions in Business Management, Operations, Marketing and Customer Experience across Companies like Titan, The Himalaya Drug Company, Levi’s, Reliance Retail and Reliance TimeOut.
It took me 10 years to return to being on my own – the turning point was the birth of my son – I wanted to do something that would leave a legacy and make a larger difference!
My interests vary from parenting (since the birth of my son in January 2009) to Retail, Networking, Cooking and Painting. I have nurtured the dream of becoming an artist and about 6 years ago I used to actively paint and have sold a few paintings as well…this is something I will get back to in the near future!
About my venture
I recently started my own retail consulting firm called REDD Network (www.reddnetwork.com) which provides consulting, training, design and auditing services in the field of Retail. The mission of REDD Network is to be the premier provider of sales and service-focused consulting & COMPETENCY BUILDING SERVICES with a singular aim: DELIVER SALES INCREASES.
Seven months since, I now have about 15 clients. I have been lucky to land Retail Training assignments with companies like Timex, Reliance TimeOut, Reliance Jewels, Zimson – the multi-brand and luxury watch store chain, whereas logo and design work has been done for a small variety of start-ups.
Retail is a difficult space, it has few specialists, and the organized and unorganized retail chains seldom see the benefits of outsourcing or partnering with external agencies for their requirement. It is pure passion that helped me decide that I want to stay in this field no matter what the odds are, and for now I am not complaining.
My vision for the future is – I want to see REDD be to Retail what Accenture is to consulting. I am working towards having an institute, the dream would be however to have branches and hubs that does developmental work, large scale training and consulting for all types of Retail Enterprises. I already focus on developing exciting tools for Retail training – in the future I would want my company to do some pioneering work in this field.
I have a long way to go – but I will get there!
Other Achievements and pursuits
Some key things that I count as achievements are that some of my programs have got standing ovations. This felt really good – in fact the very first training that I had done after starting REDD also got a standing ovation – which was a sign to me to stick to this field come what may!
My other pursuits currently include mentoring a person in his professional journey and this is a function I would like to spend more time on – so that I can inspire and guide more people through their careers in retail.
I also had been an avid painter – my specialty is acrylic. I plan to make enough paintings during the course of this year so as to be able to participate in an art exhibition in early 2012.
Challenges faced as a mom in pursuing my dreams
A lot of people had assumed when I had quit a good job with Reliance Retail, that I could spend more time with my son. While this is a thought that always is at the back of my mind – ‘am I spending enough time with Aadit?’ The reason for my mid-career change was very clear – I wanted to work towards establishing a business, while I would still have time on my side! When I look at my son, I am inspired to do just that much more so that he has more options and opportunities and so that he also has the choice of being part of any legacy that I create!
We spend a lot of quality time having fun, and when I am not travelling we play and laugh a lot. My own mother stays with us and that is a huge blessing, as he gets the best of all worlds – a mother and father who get little time with him but cherish and compensate for all the missed time and a grandmother who is there all the time – nurturing and educating him. He is also lucky to have grandparents with their own plantation and we take him to Coorg as much as possible so that he is able to be one with nature.
As I work quite a bit from home – he comes by when I am working and now he can find himself (aided) around YouTube and at the age of 2 years he knows about anacondas, crocodiles, dinosaurs etc.
I think me being a working mom is a big advantage, as I am more exposed to what is happening around me and my son too faces the same experiences. I also find that he has a natural interest in Retail – as his favorite thing to do is to go to the supermarket. There, he just rushes to get a trolley, insists on helping me shop by pushing the cart along, and then also unloading the cart at the cash to making the payment and collecting the change!
Instead of keeping my son separate from my dreams and aspirations, I have made him a part of it – and I find it all quite rewarding!
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