Roshni Govindaraj shares her story of setting up her business, and the struggles she faced and overcame along the way!
Name: Roshni Govindaraj
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I started working full time straight out of high school as I started a cadetship at KPMG (and completed uni via night classes). I went from there to PwC, and before I knew it 8 years had passed. While I’ve enjoyed my various roles (consulting, tech risk, tax) and the money was good, it wasn’t the fulfilling career I’d imagined. I desired more freedom and flexibility (I love to travel, certainly far more than the average 4 weeks of annual leave will allow) and really wanted to feel like the work I did was meaningful. I wanted to be proud of what I did for a living, run life on my terms and help some people in the process. The longer you stay the harder it becomes to leave, so I took the plunge. Knowing that putting it off would only make it harder helped to make the decision.
What is the biggest obstacle you have faced in life & how did it impact you?
I think most of us in Australia live very privileged lives compared to a large percentage of the population. In that sense I would say that I haven’t faced any very large obstacles, but growing up my family did move a lot which was difficult at times. We moved from India to Malaysia to Australia, and I attended over 10 schools by the time I graduated from high school. While it was difficult to constantly be in a state of change, I think it prepared me well for the transience of life and also taught me how to build rapport quickly, and make friends with people from all walks of life.
What would you say are your greatest achievements in life thus far?
Securing a cadetship at KPMG (14 candidates out of 2000 were selected), getting a scholarship to study abroad at The University of Southern California, being the youngest staff member to be selected for a secondment in Jakarta, and probably my biggest achievement – starting Issara and being able to count so many happy customers.
How did you work through your struggles to achieve the success you have today?
As I mentioned, I think I’ve been quite privileged to have been afforded the opportunities presented to me, such as a good education, and supportive family and friends. However, the struggles I faced mostly related to cultural and generational differences. As a relatively young woman in a male-dominated, traditional industry I faced some unique challenges:
- Older male artisans would either flat out refuse to deal with me, or deride my decision to travel alone in a language they thought I did not understand (I could).
- Having almost every decision or request challenged by male artisans while witnessing the same requests being quickly fulfilled if a male colleague makes them
- Being blackmailed and almost extorted (twice!).
These experiences make the wins particularly exhilarating though!
What is one tip you have for keeping motivated?
“You didn’t come this far to only come this far.”
Who is someone that helped you on your journey from struggle to success?
My partner has been a huge support. We met as I hired him to build my website, and he quickly became a much bigger source of support and encouragement – both tangible (he makes excellent websites, and the beautiful, user friendly site you see today is all his work) and also intangible, with words of encouragement and practical suggestions to take my business to the next level.
What qualities do you think are essential in a person in order to be successful?
Resourcefulness, ability to prioritise, ability to read people and build relationships, Perseverance, Hard work/smart work.
Do you think there are benefits to going through hardships before achieving your goals?
Yes, you appreciate them more, and it makes the win that much sweeter.
What are some plans and goals you have for the future?
To have added to our collection and grown our reach organically via customers who are delighted with our quality and service while making a lasting difference in our artisan communities.
Lastly, what is one piece of advice you have for others to overcome difficulty and achieve success?
If not you, then who? It’s better to fail trying, than sit still due to fear. Hang in there, things always get easier with practice.
So there you have it - an inspirational tale of conquering all odds to achieve a dream and desired lifestyle!