Sana Sajan, Director, American Aesthetic Clinics

The significance of Mother’s Day?

A mother’s love is the strongest, unconditional and eternal. Moms should be honoured, lauded and praised every day not just on mother’s day.

How do you celebrate this day?

At a personal level, I make it a point to splurge on gifts for my mom and mother-in-law. I find some ways to make it special for them. At work, I ensure my staff has an exhilarating day. I arrange for gifts for all moms in the office.

Major challenges you faced as a mother and a businesswoman?

After having my second child by C-section, I had to return to work within a week. A few important decisions had to be taken and my absence was going to delay the process, so coming to work was the only option, this was by far physically and mentally very challenging for me. As a mom of two boys and the brainchild behind American Aesthetic, I always go through mother’s guilt while juggling my roles. But I put in a extra effort while I am undertaking either of my responsibilities and disconnect to avoid any overlaps.

Sana says she tends to be too positive at times and to focus on the bigger picture, “ignoring the smaller bits, which Adel is quick to rectify.”
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How do you find work-life balance?

Time management has helped me navigate my day with more ease. Also, the great support system I have from my parents-in-law. After toiling without a break for two years, Adel, my husband, and I went off on a holiday to the Maldives.

Which of your qualities do you hope inspire your children?

To see the positive side of things, work towards bringing people together and collaborating and being a team player.

Your strengths?

My ability to pull myself out of negative thoughts. I am also known to help my friends find their calling in life and motivate them.

And weaknesses?

Being too positive at times, and focusing on the bigger picture, ignoring the smaller bits (which Adel is quick to rectify).

Your mentors?

Adel and my father-in-law (Rizwan Sajan). I learn from both every single day.

Internationally, I’d pick Jennifer Lopez, Priyanka Chopra and Michelle Obama.

Advice to young mothers?

• Take everything one day at a time.

• Don’t sweat the small stuff, focus on the bigger goal and stay organised.

• I always believe in carpe diem and keeping faith, it’s not bad to have aspirations and ambitions but don’t beat yourself over not achieving them. Pause and smell the roses on the way.

Advice to women entrepreneurs?

• To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream; not only plan but also believe.

• If one door closes, there will always be another door, always look around for alternatives.

• Know where to focus energy and time.

• Believe in yourself.

• And lastly stay positive.

Yan Narayan, Director, Hunter Foods

The major challenges you faced as a mother and a businesswoman?

Being a mother and a business woman, sometimes, if not many times, you do feel overwhelmed. You feel that there are always things that you could do more and better for the kids. The sense of guilt is always there. However, as long as I keep reminding myself that I am doing the best I could, I am giving my children the priority whenever the situations arise or called for, then I do think the children understand that I have their best interests in my heart. I do forget or mess up certain dress-up days at school, once in a while, but I apologise to the kids sincerely, and do try not to forget again too soon.

How do you find work-life balance?

I don’t think there is an absolute balance or just balance. So to me, it is more of an average over a period of time. I do work a lot during weekdays, but I also do make weekends all about family and kids. The kids also know that if they haven’t seen me much during the weekdays, they will for sure get lots of "our" time during the weekends.

While Yan spends a big chunk of her weekdays at work, weekends are all about family and kids
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Tell us about the support system you have relied upon over the years to help you with parenting?

My parents-in-law have been there for us from the beginning. They are always ready to have the kids over anytime, if not as much as possible. Their love and affection to us and the kids really make the whole parenting extra rewarding. We feel very blessed and fortunate to have them in our lives to support us unconditionally.

Which of your qualities do you hope inspire your children?

Optimism, kindness, perseverance and striving for excellence.

What advice would you like to give women entrepreneurs?

Be kind to yourself; exercise regularly; tackle the difficult issues at the time of the day, when you are at your best; have a good support group personally and professionally.

What would you credit your success to?

An extraordinary leader and a true friend, who also happens to be my husband; two kind and loving children; loving and supportive parents-in-law and the team at Hunter Foods.

Namisha Uttamchandani, Design Director, Serendipity Interiors LLC

The significance of Mother's Day?

It’s a special time when you get to celebrate your mom, best friend and the person you always look up to and turn to for advice. It is also a time to show your love for all the other wonderful women in your life. For me, it is a truly special day which also makes me cherish the other most important person in my life, my daughter, because of whom I experience this blessed feeling of motherhood.

How do you celebrate this day?

I am grateful for having my beautiful daughter, who makes me experience this amazing thing called motherhood. I also feel grateful for having my mum – an inspiration in my life. I express my love for both of them with little gifts and messages. On a professional level, I make it a point to connect with all the women I work with, in my range.

Keeping an open communication with her daughter has helped Namisha accept her work more easily
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Major challenges you faced as a mother and a businesswoman?

The biggest challenge is striking the right balance between the two. I try and plan the day so that I can prioritise and schedule things between work and home. Keeping the communication with my daughter open has tremendously helped her accept my work more easily. Getting some me time is another huge challenge in this scenario. It is so important to throw in a few hours every week for yourself. Passion for work and utmost love and commitment for kids and family helps to maintain this balance.

How do you find work-life balance?

The amount of mental and emotional involvement towards both should be well balanced. Both should give us more or less similar satisfactions. Only then can we stay motivated to perform both roles well.

Which of your qualities do you hope inspire your daughter?

My positive attitude, spirituality and zest for life.

Your strengths?

I don’t give up and have a positive attitude. I am also very spiritual. I like structure.

And weaknesses?

I easily trust people, and take most people at face value. I often tend to procrastinate.

Your mentors?

My parents have inspired me to be passionate and honest in whatever I do and have imparted values on how important family is. This has helped me to priortise things.

Advice to young mothers?

Enjoy every moment with your child; make the most of their childhood. Besides being a parent be their best friend. Give them selfless love without expectations.

Advice to women entrepreneurs?

Whatever you do, do it with a passion. Keep stress levels to the minimum.

Vandana Datar, Finance Director, Al Adil Trading

The significance of Mother's Day?

Only a mother has the honour to give life. She also educates, cares, nourishes and instills values in her children; she plays several roles – enough reason to give back and honour her.

How do you celebrate this day?

My family celebrates Mother’s Day every day. I begin the day by seeking the blessings of the elders, my spiritual master, and the divine power. I also make sure to bless my children every morning so they can realise their potential.

Vandana began to involve herself in the business completely when her children were able to take care of themselves. “However, if and when they have an issue, they can always open up to me and I will be with them.”
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Major challenges you faced as a mother and a businesswoman.

When my children were young, I took care of them and they were my only priority. When they were able to take care of themselves, I began to involve myself in the business completely. However, if and when they have an issue, they can always open up to me and I will be with them.

How do you find work-life balance?

I try to create a positive and healthy space for my employees. I believe when people are stress-free, they make fewer mistakes. On days when I am unable to finish the work or it is not up to my expectations, I don’t let it affect me or my personal life.

Which of your qualities do you hope inspire your children?

Finding happiness in everything.

Your strengths?

My self-confidence. I have the power to change myself and my situations. My emotions are dependent only on me.

And weaknesses?

My children and family. I wouldn’t 
want any conflicts, anger or ill-will in 
my house.

Your mentors?

My father-in-law and my grandmothers. The former taught me to be happy in every situation. Even after my paternal grandmother became a widow, she 
never let sadness get to her; instead 
she spread happiness wherever she 
went. My maternal grandmother 
taught me to appreciate the value of everything in life.

Advice to young mothers?

There is nothing more precious than caring for your children during their childhood.

Advice to women entrepreneurs?

Be healthy yourself, take care of your mental and physical health. Make time for your hobbies. Divide your work and personal life and don’t let one affect the other. Be ambitious and always learn new things and new skills.

However powerful you become, never forget your family is your biggest power.

Sonia Alukkas, Director Joyalukkas International Operations

The significance of Mother’s Day?

The WFH scenario has been particularly hard on mothers. Though we are excellent in juggling multiple responsibilities with ease, we are being challenged further this time. So, I believe Mothers Day is even more special this year.

How do you celebrate this day?

I look forward to the flowers and cute handmade cards my daughters give me. My girls and husband usually plan a special meal or dish to surprise me. As a business head, we come up with unique campaigns. I also feel proud of all the mothers working at Joyalukkas.

Major challenges you have faced as a mother and a businesswoman?

I love challenges and dedicate specific time for work and family. The biggest challenge is juggling between quality time for yourself, kids, family, work and giving each the undivided attention it requires.

How do you find work-life balance?

I believe balance, is a myth. We need to look at every situation, and decide on our priorities. The key is to not allow the guilt to affect us. However I am blessed, because on many occasions my husband steps in if I am busy with my work. If you have a strong support system, it’s easier to find a work-life balance.

Her biggest challenge as a businesswoman, says Sonia, “is juggling between quality time for yourself, kids, family, work and giving each the undivided attention it requires.”
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Which of your qualities do you hope inspire your children?

Be empathetic to others and always be kind to everyone around you. Stay organised and be proactive. I want them to see how their parents respect and love each other and all in the family. And accept nothing less when they grow up.

Your strengths?

Self-awareness of every situation, adaptability to embrace new changes, thirst for knowledge and ability to believe in my intuitions and take risks when necessary.

And weaknesses?

In some situations I let my emotion get the better of me – not always the best in a working environment.

Advice to young mothers.

Being a mother should not be an end to your ambitions. You can be a strong woman and a loving mother. Enjoy every moment of your kids’ growing up years, they pass too quickly. Also mom guilt is something you can never come to terms with. It’s okay to make mistakes, don’t be too hard on yourself. Motherhood is something we are all winging.

Advice to women entrepreneurs.

• Prioritize without guilt.

• Under promise and overachieve.

• Learn to say No when required.

• Believe in yourself.

• Listen, observe and learn.

Vandana Gandhi, CEO and Founder, British Orchard Nursery

Significance of Mother’s Day

Being a working mother has made me realise that children are key to success. Whether it has been my two children who are my pillars of strength or the countless children and their mothers across all branches who serve as an inspiration to me, this day honors all mothers and serves as a reminder of why I do, what I do, and why I love it so much.

How do you celebrate this day?

On a personal level, I spend quality time with my children. As a CEO, this day is celebrated across our branches with events to honor all our BON Mommies.

Major challenges you faced as a mother and a businesswoman.

One of the most difficult changes I faced was during the onset of the pandemic. As a mother I was worried about the well-being of my family, yet as a business owner, I had to also think about countless mothers who rely on us for the holistic development of their children. The belief of ‘learning must never stop’ and the thought of mothers around the globe who would rely on us is how we managed to make our preschool chain one of the first nurseries to adapt to online learning during the pandemic.

The onset of the pandemic was one of the most difficult changes Vandana has faced. “As a mother I was worried about the well-being of my family, yet as a business owner, I had to also think about countless mothers who rely on us for the holistic development of their children.”
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How do you find work-life balance?

I am quite lucky as my children work side-by-side with me in our family business; that gives me more opportunities to spend time with them. I also ensure I give enough time to myself to spend on activities I love - yoga and reading.

Which of your qualities do you hope inspires your children?

The business acumen I inherited from my late father and my quest for innovation and for raising the bar in any venture.

Your strengths?

I was the first Indian woman to receive the Dubai Government’s coveted "Emirates Woman Award" for leadership and business excellence along with many national and international awards for innovation and quality. I believe perseverance, determination, and the ability to raise the bar for women empowerment and inspire my team have helped me achieve these accolades.

And weaknesses?

My continual pursuit of new projects and sometimes biting off more than I can chew.

Your mentors?

My late father, Kumar Gandhi. He shaped my attitude towards money, business, growth, and family life.

Advice to women entrepreneurs.

• There is nothing you cannot do - the sky is your limit. Believe in yourself. Patience is a virtue - treasure it.

• Make hard-work your trademark.

• Never be afraid to ask for help or for advice. Innovate, Innovate, and Innovate!

Mini Jiji Varghese, Managing Partner, Gigis International LLC

Why do you think this day is significant?

Mothers are vital in anyone’s life. They play many important roles in all walks of our life either by their prayers, inspirations, advices... There won’t be any occasion that we don’t remember them. So definitely this day has its own significance.

How do you celebrate this day at a personal level and as head of business?

Usually, I would be at home spending the day off to make different dishes with them and I take my responsibilities from work away so spend more time with them.

What are some of the major challenges you have faced as a mother and a businesswoman?

The challenges that came through included having only limited time with them during their infancy; this is the most precious time a mother can experience with her kids. But due to juggling between work and motherhood, it was difficult. The other challenge was not providing my kids the support for their studies according to my satisfaction due to time constraints. I overcame these challenges by taking my time off from work often and devoting time for my kids. During this difficult time, my husband was a great pillar of help.

Mini loves to maintain a time frame to her tasks and responsibilities, whether at work or with the family at home
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How do you find work-life balance?

When my kids were small, it was quite a task to find the right work-life balance because I was unable to devote my concentration on one aspect specifically. Now that the three have grown up, I am much more relaxed and at ease because they have taken up the responsibilities on respective tasks and chores thus letting me focus on the business more.

Which of your qualities do you hope inspire your children?

Most parents wish to see their kids being successful, but in my case; I wish to see my children being contended in every walk of their life. The few qualities that I wish they pick on and learn is the power of humility, no matter where they go or how they will be; I hope they will always stay humble and acknowledge their mentors and hard work. Most importantly, kids of this generation need to be taught patience and self-control, both of which I hope I was able to inspire my kids in shaping up their personalities.

What do you think are your strengths?

A few of the strengths I believe I have is my time management skills, I always love to maintain a time frame to my tasks and responsibilities whether it being at home or at work. I believe being a good listener always works wonders especially for children, because all they want is that time you give in for them to hear them out and for them to build that trust and love relationship. Finally, I think it’s about my patience and learning to adapt with my kids.

And weaknesses?

As a mother to three children, I have realised my weakness is getting overwhelmed with even the trivial of matters concerning them. They would talk to me about their university and work life and when they come to me with certain problems, I get too overwhelmed and start worrying a lot about how they would be and whether or not they can take control of that situation.

Your mentors?

Throughout the course of my life, I have never had a mentor nor have really looked up to anyone as a mentor. After marriage, my husband has been the one who I have looked up to for his dedication, passion and earnest commitment to work and family. He has helped me in learning new things and has given me the courage to tackle difficult situations.

Advice you’d like to give young mothers?

As a mother to other mothers and mother’s to be, the best advice would be to trust yourself and the process you are because it can get difficult or easy depending on circumstances. Do what you think is the best and learn from trial and error because it’s different for everyone. Everything might not go as planned; so feel free to adapt yourself to the moment.

5 pieces of advice to women entrepreneurs?

a) Strengthen your inner self and have utmost faith in yourself.

b) Let experience be your teacher/mentor.

c) Never keep work for tomorrow and negativity overrule you.

d) Always love what you do and do what you love.

e) Never start a business while being dependent on other’s money.

What is your dream and how do you plan to realise it?

As of now, my only dream is to see my kids being content and successful in whatever they venture into. We have built a foundation for them, and I look forward to seeing them grow and develop it through their ideas. From time to time, we keep discussing our ideas and their ideas, we debate over them, draw out pros and cons and give them the guidelines for living their passion and how to build themselves on their own with their parents support.

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