Shefali Karani '10 '13
BS Business Administration '10, MBA '13
Shefali Karani ’10, ’13, is an executive at the BSE-listed Rama Phosphates Ltd., as well as a board director for Rama Industries Ltd. (Gelatin) and Rainbow Agri Industries Ltd. Karani got her CIBE from Columbia Business School in New York in 2018 and she recently appeared on the TV show, “The Feminist Perspective.” She resides in Dubai with her husband.
She recently authored the book, “Own It! Love What You Already Have,” which talks about the lessons she learned as a young executive in her family-owned business. Below she discusses her experiences and her number-one piece of advice for others who, like her, are working in the family business.
What are some of the best and worst parts of working with your family members?
Working with family comes with unique perks and challenges. I’ve learned that it’s best to keep personal matters out of the workspace and to not discuss work matters at home. In the beginning, it was a bit tough to figure out what could be discussed at work with my family and what could not, but my parents were always pretty clear about where the line was drawn for our discussions, and I’ve learned to respect that.
What were some of the most challenging parts of becoming an executive in your 20s and how did you overcome them?
When I was in my 20s, particularly the moment when I became an executive at one of our publicly-listed companies at 21, I dealt with a lot of criticism and setbacks. An event that really affected me was when someone basically told my mother that daughters weren’t as good as sons. When my mother told me about this, I realized that this is just one issue that I’ll be dealing with in my career: knowing my own self-worth. My mother is an executive and mentor, and throughout the years she has been one of my biggest supporters. When you have a great support system, good things happen and you can then easily overcome any obstacles that come your way.
If you had to distill your book down to one piece of advice for someone working in the family business, what would it be?
One of my absolute favorite quotes from my book is “Keep believing in yourself. Put aside the haters and keep going.” This is truly what kept me going through the good and bad times in my career and in my life. I just kept believing in myself even when at times I felt no one was going to support me. That’s basically how I got to where I am today as a board member for two well-known companies in India as well as an executive for a BSE-listed company. And it’s how I graduated from the 1-year MBA program from Drexel University at 25. Believing in myself is also how I got my CIBE from Columbia Business School, wrote my book, and got my first TV interview. If you believe in yourself, when someone tries to put you down, you can learn to move on and become stronger because of it.