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Women in Retail-Ask more questions and be more curious: Anita Chhokar of Archies

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Anita Chhokar, business head of product and planning at gifting company Archies Ltd. speaks about her career, what keeps her motivated and engaged at work and diversity

Bengaluru: Armed with a demonstrated history of work, Anita Chhokar comes with an experience of 27 years. She joined Archies in 1996 as a copywriter and now is the head of business (product and planning). Hailing from an army background, Chhokar has managed to play a multifaceted role at the company, handling the designing and planning of products at a large scale along with other day-to-day operations.

Archies is an Indian multinational retailer of greeting cards and gifts, based in New Delhi. Founded in 1979 by Anil Moolchandani, today the company claims to have a market share of about 60% in the organized sector. Chhokar has seen the company’s peaks and valleys over many years and has contributed extensively towards the progress.

In a Women’s Day special chat with IndiaRetailing, Anita Chhokar, business head of Archies talks about her professional journey, what keeps her motivated and engaged at work, how the company celebrates diversity on a day-to-day basis and more.

What do you love most about your position?

The creative part of it intrigues me the most. I am a curious being and I love juggling multiple roles at Archies. We firmly believe that delivering a product or service is a work of art and a challenge. We have been making sure to stay up to the mark on the quality of our products.

How did you overcome the challenges you faced?

I’ve been blessed enough to be surrounded by people who’ve let me be myself. I have been an outgoing person and I have never had to compromise my freedom, even after marriage. Being vocal about my thoughts at work, conveying the rawest ideas, getting involved in operational activities made me a diversified and evolved version of myself.

Have you been in a situation that made you think that ‘women’ and ‘power’ are incompatible?

No, I’ve been brought up in an army background. My upbringing has been of dedication towards anything one does. My parents were always supportive of my decisions, they trusted me throughout. Back then, safety was an issue for women which prevails even today though at a lesser degree. Apart from that, there were no personal barriers.

A woman you admire the most?

The selflessness of Mother Teresa inspires me. I wish to contribute to society and make an impact, even if it’s a small one.

What are you most proud of in your career journey?

There is no substitute for hard work and this is the core learning of my professional journey. I believe I’ve been able to cater to multifaceted roles because of my ability and dedication to work. It’s pure bliss to see the fruits of your work… nothing can replace that.

I have friends who are working in leading positions at good companies. They’ve been able to really make it in life with all the perseverance. Back then, we didn’t think much, we just were so involved in our work that we didn’t think about the ultimate result. This might have led us to where we are today and there are no regrets. Additionally, I am proud of my friends for where they are in life.

Any message for women thinking about their careers?

The contemporary world demands a certain level of independence in all humans, not just women. Talking specifically about women, I feel it’s important to be financially independent. Being confident and thriving for knowledge is the only key. If you are powerful from within, it will reflect outside.

What is the most inevitable quality in a workplace?

At workplaces, it starts with treating people with equality and equity, knowing where to use the latter correctly. Often, we see that in a competitive environment, people lose the balance to stay humble and empathetic towards others. Pleasant people make happy workplaces and we abide by this motto at Archies. We believe in professionalism and work ethics. There are policies to support people and foster their growth in the long run. Also, compassion towards work and the attitude with which one enters a workplace is important.

How does Archies support empowerment of women?

 We are focusing on hiring women and plan to onboard women in diversified roles. Similarly, we are also concentrating on building an empathetic ecosystem in and around the company specifically for women.

 What prospects do women have in the social expression industry?

Women today are in leading roles across the globe, and this industry is no different. We have already taken over but the emergence will be even more powerful and inevitable in the coming years. Over the succeeding years, we will see enormous growth in the social expressions industry. The gifting industry is expected to reach $84 billion by 2024 according to a report by a leading gift card company.

In your opinion, how far have we as an industry come in gender equality?

 Previously retail was predominantly occupied by men but it’s not just about gender anymore. Anyone who’s suitable for a role is given the opportunity to cater to it.

Certain roles were restricted for women earlier because of issues related to safety. That’s changed. If we talk about urban areas, there’s no such gap. For instance, most high-end make-up brands hire women representatives for consumer-facing roles. Today, it’s just a matter of suitability and subjectivity.

Any piece of advice you have for your younger self?

If I were to give a piece of advice to myself, it would just be to ask more questions and be more curious.

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