01 March 2022 16:49:01 IST

Hear it from the Boss Lady Apurva Purohit

Apurva Purohit, President, Jagran Prakashan

IIM Bangalore’s distinguished alumna Apurva Purohit is a leading voice in media as well as gender circles. As President of Jagran Prakashan, she pivoted the group from its reliance on traditional print to new-age businesses. And earlier she was responsible for creating the media buying agency Lodestar. But it’s as a staunch advocate for women taking control of their destinies, that Purohit’s voice has really boomed.

Her two books — Lady You’re Not a Man and Lady You’re the Boss — are sparkling guides for working women to navigate their careers. The physics graduate from Stella Maris College Chennai, who joined IIMB in 1989, has recently jumped into the exciting world of start-ups, launching Aazol, a D2C brand that works with women self-help groups and micro-entrepreneurs to source local and traditional food products.

How has your MBA helped you in your corporate life, if at all? 
In the pre-liberalisation era, for many middle-class families a degree from a premier institute was a ticket to a great job. To some extent thus, my MBA gave me a head start in my corporate career in terms of accessibility to the premium job market. Having said that no degree or educational qualification is ever going to help if you are not willing to work hard, persevere through successes and failure and keep learning and evolving.
What have been the key learnings from your MBA for you? 
I think more than the knowledge each of us got out of our specialised subjects and which we put to good use later in life in our chosen careers, the true learning I got was the structured thinking and logical analysis that doing an MBA drills inside you. Whether through solving the myriad marketing case studies that are a hallmark of the curriculum or as you slowly comprehend the structured building of a P&L or via a research project, the rigorous application of reasoning and logic and systemised judgements based on facts, teaches you to think in a rational manner and develop what is known as the scientific temperament.
If you had to re-visit your MBA, what would you have liked to have been part of your course? 
Frankly, a lot of what is happening today was not even part of the environment at that time, an obvious example being the digital and technology evolution, so I think for that time and that era what we were taught was enough. It’s up to each of us to change and evolve with the external changes and learn to be contemporary in our thinking and outlook. 
You were part of the state hockey team of Tamil Nadu during your college years - did you get to continue your tryst with sports during your IIM days or does that go out of the window at the higher education level? 
Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue my sports and it is a travesty, especially for women, that as we grow we give up our hobbies and skills, both due to a lack of opportunity (how many public spaces are there for a middle aged women’s group to get together and play?) and a lack of time as we juggle home and career.
Where do you draw inspiration from/ what do you do to generate ideas?
I draw inspiration from minute observation and reflection of the big and small changes happening around me, from life itself and from an inner urge to be the best version of myself always.
What have been your best and worst moments in your career? 
Good and bad things happen to all of us, but fortunately, I think for most of my career I have enjoyed every day of going to work. The best moments of course were around the period as we scaled up Radio City from a small niche radio network to a national one, along the way making it amongst the top 10 Great Places to Work in India, and doing an IPO, or when I launched and started Times TV network and Lodestar Media. Today as we work on Aazol, our food start-up aimed to empower women SHGs and farmer communities and bring wholesome authentic food to urban homes it is giving me great joy to give back and create impact.
The worst moments were luckily few and those really were when I worked in a couple of toxic environments with insecure bosses.
What would be your advice to young MBAs who are joining the corporate sector? 
It is not a cliché but a reality that money will not give you happiness. The salary cheque which you see only once a month will please you for a day, but what you are doing for the rest of the 29 days will truly define your happiness . So choose the career/job that you want to do, don’t do it because your peers are applying or your seniors advise you to do so. Only you know what will make you happy and content.
What would you advise young MBAs to read or watch?
As a society we are losing touch with in-depth understanding of anything . In the social media age, the habit of quick scrolling and superficial reading of 140 characters is the cause of this. I urge youngsters to pick up any subject that they are interested in, doesn’t matter if it is business reading or understanding how butterflies fly or hiking, but do deep reading and detailed understanding of it, so you become a thinker and a person who reflects rather than a person who flits and floats . This particular habit will help you in life more than anything else.