“Being a single, working mom makes it more challenging”: Schauna Chauhan, CEO Parle Agro

“I keep telling Jahaan, it does not matter that you fall. What matters is that you pick yourself up, no matter how hard you fall, and start again to power ahead,” says Schauna Chauhan, single mom and business leader.

There are a flurry of small bicycles and cars in ruddy reds and cheerful yellows parked meticulously in a single file, outside the foyer at the Parle Agro office, as I make my way up to meet Schauna Chauhan, the trailblazer CEO. Listed as one of the most powerful business women in India by Fortune India 2018, Schauna Chauhan is also hands-on mom to five-year-old Jahaan. Excerpts from a conversation:

So Jahaan loves cars…

He is absolutely passionate about cars. We are done with bumper cars, and now go for go-karting. On the weekends, I sometimes even take him to the swanky car showrooms where he soaks up all the information on the latest wheels, sits inside the cars…everyone indulges him, explaining the working and the mechanism of the cars.

That is one of the best things about being Schauna Chauhan, isn’t it?

(laughs) Yes, it is, I guess. God has been kind.

What is that one thing that you keep telling Jahaan these days?

That if you start something, finish it. Like he went for a football class, and then doesn’t want to go again. Yet, I do not want to be one of those annoying moms, breathing down his back. I like to expose him to different things and let him discover his interests on his own. But I always encourage him to finish what he starts. I tell him we will finish it together as a team: it could be wrapping up a jigsaw puzzle or learning to cycle without his training wheels. He was so apprehensive, and a little nervous, when I removed the training wheels and convinced him to cycle in the office compound. First, I made him comfortable with the cycle, and with the idea that if he fell off, it did not matter. What mattered was getting back on to cycle again. He did it, and it was such a proud moment for me; I have it on video. I had tears in my eyes and he himself was amazed that he could do it, with the security guards clapping to encourage him…it was such a beautiful feeling watching him go. I was simply overwhelmed.

Shilpi Madan for Indian Express

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