Fly Like A Bird
The passion to teach has always allured her. Radha Bhatia, chairperson, Bird Group, hotels-to -aviation-to-automobile conglomerate, started off her career as a teacher. Three decades hence, she has largest hospitality-centric training academy called Bird Academy and Women In Aviation under the group’s umbrella. In a free-wheeling chat with Women’s Era, Mrs Bhatia elucidates on the aspect of why it’s not enough to teach today’s generation. The more important is to make everyone employable by imparting specific training to them in the hospitality sector. Excerpts:
1. What inspires you everyday? What keeps you going to oversee the travel and aviation conglomerate you have built over the years? How would you define your stewardship?
There has been a burning deep rooted desire since my childhood to make a difference in which ever sphere I worked in. It’s a deeply ingrained habit to be thorough and professional. I am inspired by the challenges I face and my will to overcome them. I started my career as a teacher and am passionate to train young girls and boys and mentor and guide young upcoming entrepreneurs. I am also disturbed by the disparity between the different income sectors in our nation and am always striving to reduce the gap. Working hard comes naturally to me and I don’t see this as a challenge. I feel every woman does a certain amount of multitasking in her life. With me the number of things I do are just slightly more.
2. What is your take on current level of training and skilling of women workforce in the travel and hospitality sector?
Unfortunately in our society, the training and skilling provided to women are not much and the current mindset is such that women, especially those coming from remote areas and lower strata are scared to enter this industry. Moreover as aviation is considered a high risk sector, though I always tell them that more accidents happen on roads than in the blue skies. At SpiceJet, we have held camps to inspire the women to come forward, take training and subsequently join us.
3. What are the challenges the women entrepreneurs face when they start out? Please narrate your journey in a few words.
I have never thought that being a woman is a drawback. There are no challenges whether it is for a man or a woman, a boy or a girl. You have to be strong enough to first dream, then fix up your goal and keep trying. Sometimes you reach your goal in one attempt, sometimes maybe 10 attempts but if you have a fixed goal, then you are sure to succeed. There is a saying, try and try again and you will succeed at last.
4. Elucidate about your ‘women in aviation’ initiative. Why did you start it? What have you achieved through this initiative?
Well, actually I had for a long while never done a work like this. This was the first attempt to develop an initiative and make it available to all the young women. I got inspired by a friend of mine who used to work with FAA. She introduced to me the ‘Women In Aviiation International’, which is an international body and has a lot of chapters all over the world. So this was to convince all the women in the world about aviation to apply for the jobs as stewards and check in agents, facilitation agents. And, as there are very few women in aviation compared to other sectors, so we got into it. And we go through our partners. Last year we took to addressing about more than 1500 girls in the age of 14 and 15 and told them the possibilities of their future. These girls were apprehensive but we manage to address their doubts.
5. Besides being in the business of travel you are an avid traveler yourself. Please share some travel tips for women travelers?
Well, firstly you have to dress up appropriately taking into consideration the culture of the country you are travelling to and take care not to offend any sensibilities. I have been travelling for the last 35 years and I think you can travel anywhere. Provided you are careful.
6. What keeps you ticking around for more than three decades in this industry?
If I don’t tick, what do I do? I will be like a potato in the couch. It’s over four decades of being at the helm of the Bird Group.
7. What all achievements you have got till date? How do you feel about it?
God has certainly been kind to me. Apart from helming my group companies, I am the founder member of the World Travel and Tourism Council India Initiative and also former Chairman of the Council. I am also the Vice Chairperson of Export Software Council, North India. But what I feel the most happy about is that in India, I have given employment to many boys and girls and if I am able to continue doing that. If I am not able to employ them, then I should train them in a way that renders them employable.