The challenging pandemic year sent shockwaves throughout the nation's business ecosystem, especially affecting the real estate business. Near the occasion of Women's Day, we spoke to Parveen Mahtani on her inputs as to how she navigated through these challenges as a woman entrepreneur in real estate.

1)The year gone by has been a challenging year. What strategies did you adopt to tide over the crisis, and how has the year been for your company?

In FY'21, we built a resilience mechanism with the objective of building capacity to absorb stress, recover critical functionality and develop an ability to thrive in challenging circumstances. This has helped us avoid rigidity and a massive one-shot adjustment. We used the time to build new capabilities and technology platforms. We've invested significantly in augmenting our digital sales capabilities, for example, which have helped our customers experience and evaluate our projects from the comfort of their homes.

We've focused on a multi timescale perspective where we have a forward-looking approach and have successfully launched projects in Mumbai and Pune despite the pandemic. We have a strong balance sheet with low debt, adequate cash reserves and a net debt-equity ratio close to zero. In essence, we have moved from adversity to advantage.  

2)How has been your professional journey so far, and what delights you the most about your career?

With the fallout of corporate scandals, rapid globalisation, increased focus on corporate governance, advancement in technology and data protection, an in-house counsel's role has gained significant importance. The in-house counsel is the guardian of the brand of the company. An in-house counsel provides clear, pragmatic and commercially viable legal advice while being aligned with the company's core business activity and values. They provide the risks along with mitigation strategies while being mindful of the company's appetite for risk. Being part of a company provides me with the opportunity to be a business enabler and strategic partner.

3)How do you maintain a work-life balance?

The art of maintaining a work-life balance is first to define success. It starts by being organised and compartmentalising your day. Work out your non-negotiables and stick to them. The objective is to be productive and not be bogged down by perceptions. It would help if you believe in yourself and not look for external endorsement to recognise your value.

4)What are the challenges you have faced as a woman in a male-dominated industry?

The typical challenges that any woman usually faces in a male-dominated industry are pervasive stereotypes and societal beliefs of a woman's leadership abilities. A woman also faces the 'mom' effect and unconscious biases.

5)Any tips for women venturing into real estate?

Real estate and infrastructure are possibly some of the most complex sectors since most legislations impact them. It requires an understanding that a project has complex legal requirements and has technical construction requirements, approval processes, finance, and taxation impacts. It requires a business acumen to advise pro-actively on risks with appropriate mitigation strategies.

Real estate, construction and infrastructure laws differ from state to state in India and are impacted by local laws, practices and language barriers. Therefore, to practise in this sector requires an ability to simplify complex legal requirements. It is also important to stay professionally relevant. Women have the ability to multi-task and make great negotiators.

Be that woman that believes anything is possible and is willing to work for it!