Brave Women Brave the Weather for IACCGH Women Mean Business Event

IACCGH and TiE Board members with speakers. From left: Ram Shenoy, Dr. Arun Pasrija, Swapan Dhairyawan, Ana Bastidas, Sangeeta Pasrija, Vinita Gupta, Joya Shukla, Karen Francis, Rajiv Bhavsar, Jagdip Ahluwalia.

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: Apparently, it takes more than thunder, lightning, and heavy showers to deter women. The IACCGH’s Women Mean Business saw over 60 incredible women beating the heavy showers to hear Keynote Speakers – Vinita Gupta offer her perspective on running a multimillion dollar business and Sangeeta Pasrija who found her calling in volunteering for social and cultural causes.

The event, held on June 20, was sponsored by Shell and supported by TiE – an organization that fosters entrepreneurship and creates economic growth. TiE President Arun Pasrija acknowledged the number of women entrepreneurs are “not quite what they should be” and expressed TiE’s support in empowering women owned businesses. TiE’s Ana Bastidas touched on the newly initiated TiE Young Entrepreneur Program and stated that Houston is one of the first Chapters to be talking to high school students about entrepreneurship.

IACCGH President Swapan Dhairyawan welcomed the gathering and highlighted the Chamber’s demographics which reflect its diversity and inclusiveness. He also shed light on the Chamber’s work in helping Harvey affected businesses bounce back on their feet.

Coordinator and Program Chair of the series, Past President Joya Shukla spoke of the value in having dynamic women from different fields come out with their inspiring journeys and hoped the gathering could  apply their “pearls of wisdom” when facing some of the same roadblocks.

Volunteering, for Sangeeta Pasrija, was a “continuous journey of self-discovery.” She is a volunteer in several non-profits such as Save a Mother, India Culture Center, International Hindi Organization, and the Youth Development Leadership Program. A huge motivating factor in volunteering was the idea of being able to make a difference and the satisfaction of knowing that her efforts have contributed to the betterment of society. Volunteering, in turn, helped her acquire competencies like public speaking, dedication, team leadership, decision-making and even “improving her ExcelSheet skills.” A gifted artist and poet, Sangeeta also put her talents to work in raising funds for her causes.

In a candid narrative, Vinita Gupta who cofounded Apex Resources, Inc., with her husband dwelt on the triumphs, pitfalls and challenges they faced as entrepreneurs. Apex sold commodity items and gradually diversified to value added providers. They had a great run until the recession hit and “everything fell apart.” The founders rode out the crisis, developed commercial relationships in the Oil and Gas industry and started a manufacturing facility for guar. When the price of crude dropped and “the bottom fell again,” they were better prepared this time round, she says, and repositioned themselves as technology providers.

Sharing lessons learned “from the school of hard knocks,” Vinita observed that an entrepreneur’s life requires traversing through unknown paths and sometimes “creating the path.” Her advice was never take anything for granted, be prepared and reposition yourself so you can come back stronger.

Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia encouraged the gathering to buy their tickets for the IACCGH Gala on August 11 at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston. One of the biggest gatherings of elected officials, business leaders, professionals, entrepreneurs and economic agencies, the Gala offers a unique opportunity to connect with those “who are in the business of business.”

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