On an equal footing - Women in Print

In the patriarchal print industry, women are battling the prejudices and proving a point. Besides being technologically sound and providing administrative differentiation, the new woman bring expertise to the firm’s product enhancement. Sonal Sheth, director at Sheth Printograph

25 Mar 2015 | By Rahul Kumar

What is your educational background?
B.Com (Hons), Certified Cost Accountant (ICWA) and MBA (Finance and Marketing)
What kind of responsibilities do you have?
I started with export marketing and finance, and later delved into production and product development.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman entrepreneur?
Initially, people do not take a woman seriously. They consider us to be fit only for administration related tasks. However, over a period of time, when they have a first-hand experience of the knowledge and insight that we have about a subject, they show confidence in us.
How has your journey been since you joined the organisation?
Initially, I was an introvert. But when I started meeting different sets of people from all walks of life, I gained exposure and knowledge. I became more confident and got an in-depth view of the industry and since then started taking on responsibilities. 
What kind of policies have you implemented and what has been result?
Before I joined, our business was already flourishing in India and overseas. Our main job was to maintain its essence. Later, product development and focusing on emerging markets with respect to changing the customer needs was a priority. We have streamlined our manufacturing base, adopted ISO system, and entered newer markets with new products.
What is your insight of the industry?
The Indian industry is migrating from manufacturing to trading, which is very alarming. There are many marketers, but very few engineers to innovate. Today, as a manufacturer, we definitely feel a dearth of qualified engineers in high-end design and development, who can produce machines for the graphic arts industry. May be this is one of the reasons why customers have more trust in European, and now, Chinese machines. Though printing institutes in India are producing students, they all are trained for working in printing presses and not for the other side of the business. We should work in this direction.
Your views on women’s participation in equipment manufacturing…
I think there are only a few women in the equipment manufacturing segment of the Indian graphic arts industry. Sometimes, being a woman is advantageous when dealing with government departments and labour, but sometimes, it can backfire. Though it is an interesting field, I have had a lot of hands-on learning experience, thanks to my father. Today, I wish had done an engineering course.
What do you do when you are not working?
I like to travel to different places all over the world, especially to the mountains. I also like contemporary and modern ballet. Off-road driving is another passion. I am an adventurous person, which is evident in the kind of risks I take on.