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Businesslike

SUNANDA KHANNA profiles three enterprising women from the city who made a difference.


AS A young girl, Pamela Anna Mathew recalls growing up in a family where her gender was neither a defined nor a limiting factorWhen she joined her father's homegrown business, she did it with panache, oozing confidence, not even remotely hesitant about being a leader.

Meanwhile, the regimented lifestyle imbued a self-assurance that comes from leading a planned, organised life.

Today as she walks out of a board meeting she quickly drops the corporate jargon and dons the mantle of yet another self assured woman juggling the many roles of a bold-in-your-face professional, wife and mother. As managing director of O.E.N.


"I am most effective when I'm overloaded. I am always challenged to beat my own record," says this power woman who is programmed to look fresh as a leaf even after the most gruelling session in the boardroom.

Pamela was a pioneer in breaking down social taboos in conservative Kochi. Often she found herself as the only woman at important conferences, but to be fair, no one grudged her a place in the sun. Pamela is also chairperson of Confederation of Indian Industry, southern region, Kerala State.

Women are genetically coded to multitask; they are born managers and sometimes unknown to themselves that they are multi-skilled. Most women, however use their gender to their advantage, flitting between several stages without much ado. From inking important decisions in a man's world to changing diapers at home, there's a quiet dignity with which they accept this hiatus. Each job is rewarding; each phase, a learning ground.


Here's another woman who is first mother, then businesswoman: Anuja Kohli Mariwala. Armed with degrees in electrical engineering and management and a future husband, Anuja Kohli Mariwala hung up her boots in a bid to nurture her marriage. A decade later, with four children in tow, she went to town in search of a meditation centre, where she could relax, rejuvenate herself and get some particularised exercise that would not aggravate her injured neck. Her search for nirvana however proved futile, as nothing appealed to her. The entire exercise, however, tossed her back in the `working woman category' by throwing up a home-based opportunity to start her own holistic meeting point. While the primary aim at `Zest for Life' was to tackle health in its totality, Mariwala's research confirmed that women approached such centres with a one-pronged theory- to trim down. She changed her regimen to include power yoga which is fitness concentrated, yet based on the principles of yoga. Women in Kochi are a talented lot, just waiting to script a new destiny for themselves. Unfortunately the city is slow in offering opportunities and society is slower in accepting the few existent ones.

Thangam Joseph first submitted to the city's narrow outlook by putting her idea of an art centre-cum-book club-cum yoga centre on hold. With a background in accountancy, she opened Odds and Ends; a gift shop built over 400 square feet of space.

She's jumped the tourism bandwagon, can anticipate the seasons and stock likewise.

A common factor binds these women; unstinted support from their families, especially husbands. This encouragement spurs them on, to take on the impossible and prove themselves.

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