Giving up a promising career at a global Big 4 consultancy was perhaps the hardest decision made by Shruti Chandra, but her dream of building India into the world’s top investment destination was a cause she was ready to risk everything for.
A sticky situation arose when one of the world’s largest retail chains was served notice to suspend operations at duty free areas of Delhi and Mumbai airports, the reason being this that its security clearance had not been renewed. The chain was suffering losses of Rs 1 crore per week but more than that shutting down two outlets of a world famous brand at a time when foreign investment was raising, essential revenue would have been detrimental to Indian business.
Even a tight deadline couldn’t deter Chandra. After managing to get hold of an appointment with the Secretary, Civil Aviation, Chandra convinced him to reconsider the earlier order of shutting down the retail chain’s outlets. A committee hearing has been scheduled to sort out the issue shortly.
A multinational clothing company, on another occasion, was grappling with staff crunch on the day of opening its first store in Mumbai as the law in Mumbai forbade women workers to stay beyond a certain time and the MNC had decided to extend its operational hours on that particular occasion. Chandra, after meeting with the Principal Secretary, Industry, Government of Maharashtra, convinced him to grant the MNC an extension.
When asked how it felt like to be rubbing shoulders with top echelons of the business world well as high ranking officials of the central and state governments, Chandra said, “It’s all about relationship building. Initially, I was apprehensive about how such senior bureaucrats and politicians would react to being approached by a youngster like me. But, I realised soon – and they did, too – that we’re part of the same team and that we have a common goal of facilitating investments in India. No doubt that the Prime Minister’s unambiguous message on attracting FDI helped,” she said.
She had joined Invest India last December. Her current job is to deal with the retail sector and the textiles industry. She also has “state responsibility” for Delhi and “country responsibility” for the UK. Chandra, who is a fan of Harry Potter, also likes to swim, enjoys Italian and Thai cuisines and loves listening to music in her spare time. While she admits that her three-year stint at Invest India is the equivalent to 10 years worth of experience at any other job, for now, she has eyes only for the next foreign investor who needs help to invest in India.