In an interview with Insights Success, Ms. Vandana Luthra of VLCC Health Care gave some insightful answers highlighting her contributions towards introducing a new manner of fulfilling beauty and wellness needs of people made by her company.
1) When you close your eyes and imagine an empowered woman, what do you see?
Women make great business leaders. They instinctively create and nurture an atmosphere which is conducive to producing great results! Personally, I see an empowerwed woman as someone who has the ability to lead with example, adapts naturally to changes and brings out the best out in an individual. And works towards empowering the women around her. This may not be restricted to professional life but includes personal achievements. India has been witness to many such women. There are numerous women who devote themselves to social development bringing about a change in the lives of millions without any expectations! She is someone who is able to succeed despite the challenges she is faced with.
2) Brief us about your own personal path of empowerment?
My entrepreneurship journey has been exhilarating. However, I had understood at the very beginning that this was not going to be an easy journey and was consequently even more determined to see my dreams materialize. With this came the realization that to do so I had to motivate own self. I also had my husband Mukesh who stood by my side and supported, and encouraged me in everything that what I wanted to do and achieve. This was extremely significant all through-out.
3) Brief us about your organization and describe the distinctive services/solutions/products it provides?
I started VLCC in 1989 as a single salon and a dream of introducing a new manner of how we go about and fulfill our beauty and wellness needs. At a time when women would simply visit a ‘beauty parlour’, we went ahead and started speaking with doctors and nutritionists explaining our vision. The idea of a technologically advanced, transformation centre that provides a solution from head-to-toe was perceived as futuristic. We however overcame all odds and criticisms we were faced with and today are a globally recognized brand.
Today, VLCC is recognized in India and internationally for its comprehensive portfolio of beauty and wellness products and services and enjoys a high level of consumer trust. We have among the largest scale and breadth of operations within the beauty and wellness services industry in India, serving consumers across over 330 locations across 14 countries. We also have 3 company owned manufacturing units for personal care products – 2 in India and one in Singapore.
In addition to the wellness services and personal care products businesses, we also operate a very successful skill development enterprice under the aegis of the VLCC Institute of Beauty & Nutrition, that currently has 79 campuses in 54 cities, and through whose portals over 20,000 students pass out annually
Recent additions to the business have been, Vanity Cube – a beauty-services-at-home platform – and WellScience, a direct seller of nutraceuticals. The acquisition of Vanity Cube marked VLCC’s entry in the on-demand services sector. Vanity Cube is currently operational in Mumbai and Delhi and has been providing best in class and value for money services within the comfort of a customer’s home. The Wellscience acquisition ensures that we now have a scalable presence in the Gast Moving Health Goods segm,ent, which is largely dominated by the direct selling channel.
4) What are the most important decisions the CEO/Founder makes as a leader of his/her organization?
As a leader, it is first important to have a vision for the organization and articulate the same very succinctly. It is this articulation that will ensure that all constituents of the organization are fully aligned towards the goal.
Secondly, I strongly believe that it is important to take all criticism constructively. Keeping an open mind allows us to make better and well informed decisions. Doing so also helps us stay updated and ahead of competition
5) What advice or suggestions can you give to women walking on the path of empowerment?
Stay focused and determined. Always look for motivation from within. Never lose faith when the hurdles may seem infinite. And regularly give yourself some ‘me’ time!
6) What are some of your experiences with unlearning and self-learning? What were the processes/experiences by which you identified and started to develop your own potentials, abilities, skills, creativities, questions, common sense and voice of conscience?
According to me, once should work in a fashion in which he or she is most comfortable as it improves productivity. While it is important to work in a team setting and perform as a team, finding your own unique style is what builds upon an individual’s personality. This is what has helped me realize my potentials and improve my skills to a great extent.
7) What inspires you to undertake new experiments in your life? What values/dreams/relationships are important to you? How have you gone far towards exploring various dimensions of meaningful living?
VLCC was a dream to me when I had opened the first outlet. I had a sense of what I wanted to do when I would accompany my father on his work trips to Germany. The concept of health and wellness centres was relatively well established there even back then and I wanted to introduce the same in India. My vision was clear and so I went ahead and completed my study of nutrition and cosmetology in Germany prior to setting up the first VLCC Centre in Safdarjung Enclave in New Delhi, in 1989. I have been able to since build a scalable and sustainable business that operates in 14 countries across Asia and Africa largely because I have never ceased to observe and learn from what is happening globally in the domain in which VLCC operates. I have also always been curious how some other business operate and have in fact adopted and adapted several best practices of diverse industries in my business to ensure that we delive consistent quality of service and efficacious solutions to our customers.
Ours is a very hands on business, wherein every staff member in our over 330 wellness centres and skill development institutes is customer facing. And if these members are not motivated, it will reflect in the service delivered to the customer. That realsation came to me very early in my career and I have alsway set great store by the relationship that I have with my colleagues. Today the VLCC family has over 4,500 members for over 30 nationalities. Yet I make it a point to try and stay connected with all of them.
Meeting and interacting with new people and travelling has also taught me new and interesting lessons. This continues to encourage me to explore and experiment.
8) How do you encourage others in your organization to communicate on the “core values”? How do you support women to live empowered lives?
I believe in leading by example. My organization is a women dominated one and we have a firm value system throughout. At a management level, we understand the diverse roles women are expected to play at home and at work and hence constantly keep them engaged and motivated. We connect and communicate with them on a personal basis regularly. I also make sure that I meet and speak with them to understand difficulties if any. This enforces our belief system and automatically empowers them to a great extent. We have also seen improved productively by engaging with such methods.
9) What is the most important quality that you attribute your success to?
10) How do you take care of yourself everyday so that you stay balanced and focused?
I practice yoga and meditation regularly. Eating healthy and staying happy is equally necessary.
11) What is your vision or hope for women in business?
According to me, women are great business leaders. We have some exceptional leaders across all paths – be it sports, social services, business or even entertainment. We have great international representation from India on the global turf as well which given India its due recognition. Moreover, within India, entrepreneurship has given rise to young women business leaders that one can’t miss. I hope that this representation by women continues to surge and that women continue to extend support to others who are in need. I also hope that women receive their due status in the leadership fraternity and are viewed at par with men.
12) What advice would you like to give to people, to bring out a social change?
We can bring about a change starting with our organizations. It is has however been becoming increasingly important for us to look at the broader scope i.e. beyond our organizations. I am personally involved in any initiative that is key to development. According to me, education is something which we need to strongly advocate – this could be in the form of formal education or vocational training as both provide ample opportunities in the cobtext of today as well as the future. We also need to focus on the youth and women very seriously. The youth today have tremendous potential and are extremely innovative. Women understand and adapt but need to be empowered and given an opportunity to become an equal financial contributor to the family.
At VLCC, our institutes promote vocational training strongly and has been involved with training the youth and women rigorously. VLCC Institutes has been contributing by providing skilled manpower for this highly unorganized sector. Moreover, being the Chairperson of the Sector Skill Council for Beauty & Wellness (B&WSSC) in India, education and skilling have been my top most priorities. The B&WSSC has completed 3 very successful years, has skilled, certified and empowered nearly 300,000 youth – mostly girls – setting them on the path of self-reliance and empowerment.
13) What can be expected from your organization in the upcoming years?
VLCC currently has under it a diverse portfolio of products and in the Wellness domain. We will continue to expand this portfolio, not only in terms of new services and products but by entering into emerging channels of delivery, as we have done recenytly by expanding into the on-demand services at home and direct selling space.
We will also continue to expand our geographic footprint and I foresee our revenue from overseas markets equaling also that from India in the next couple of years.