The efficient multi-tasker
A lover of art, wildlife and discipline, Anjali Singh of Anand Group has found her sweet balance between the boardroom and wilderness
Artist. Businesswoman. Leader. Mother. Wife. Author. Even if scientists have debunked the myth that women are better multitaskers than men, someone like Anjali Singh might have convinced them to rethink. Born in a family that owns a billion dollar group, Singh always knew that she would carry her father’s legacy forward and lead the business some day. But what she didn’t know was the kind of attention she would be exposed to. “I am not someone who likes to be in the limelight. I hadn’t realised that when you become a leader, you have many people looking for your attention and time. And, your time is no longer your own,” she explains.
The executive chairperson of Anand Group and its listed entity Gabriel India confesses that she used to be a shy person, whereas her father and husband have always been “enigmatic”. “The challenge was to come out of the shadows. But as I grew up, I found my place and learnt to be comfortable,” she says.
First, Singh found her place in Switzerland, in a school that was nestled in the magnificent Alps. Aiglon College’s emphasis on extra-curriculars drove her to love the outdoors. “Back then, I was really into trekking and skiing,” she says. Growing up in the beautiful snowclad region, Singh developed a certain fondness for nature and learnt to appreciate the aesthetic value of things. In fact, one of her most cherished memories is of the times she would go horse riding with her father. She continues to do that with her husband and children. “I really enjoy having a wide range of things that I can do. To be able to move from the boardroom to the wilderness with ease is quite enjoyable,” she says.
And when she can’t go to the wilderness, Singh brings the wilderness to the boardroom. Despite being at the helm of an auto company, she takes pride in her role as the co-founder and creative director of SUJAN, a luxury hospital chain founded by her husband Jaisal Singh under Anand Group. She vets the design, aesthetics and interiors of these properties, which border national parks such as the ones in Ranthambore in Rajasthan and Masai Mara in Kenya. Beautiful landscapes and greenery are key essentials for Singh to feel at home, be it at her office in Delhi or a property her company is managing in an exotic location. “It has been interesting to have to juxtaposition between the left side and the right side of the brain — striking a balance between being creative and living a structured life,” says Singh, who is also an executive committee member of Rajasthan Crafts Council and a member of Saat Saath Arts Foundations.
Singh has brought about crucial changes in the way Anand Group views sustainability, while refocusing on quality and customer experience. During her tenure, the group has expanded its social outreach and concentration on sustainability with the CSR wing focusing on education, health and hygiene, and wildlife conservation in India. “Bringing a strong sense of awareness on sustainability means a great deal to me. There has also been a reconnect with our customers. Last few years, we have driven our mission-vision according to them,” says Singh.
She couldn’t have done this without the support of her father, she adds gratefully and says she has been fortunate to have him as a guiding light. He was constantly learning and open to new ideas from their JV partners and business families in Europe. Singh knew that she was being groomed to take over at a very young age. “I was taught good governance and ethics. I would spend a lot of time with my father, both in the field and the factories, and watching board meetings at the age of 12,” she recalls.
Despite being born with a silver spoon, Singh was aware that she would have to work hard to prove herself. “I knew that great privilege brings with it great responsibility,” she says. Before she could become a leader at her father’s establishment, she took an assignment with the human resource department of the company. “I was always interested in understanding people. So, before I could move on to any other aspect of the business, I wanted to work with the people who constituted the company,” she explains. Here, she led various leadership programmes and honed her management skills.
Even with all the resources and support, Singh says challenges are aplenty. Especially when you are a young parent of eight-year-old twins. “As parents to young children, it is definitely a challenge to be completely present everywhere all the time,” she says. But meticulous planning has helped her stay on top of things. “I guard my time fiercely and have realised that planning my schedules to the smallest detail helps,” she says. If situation warrants, she doesn’t hesitate from letting go of what’s unimportant and believes it is crucial to not spread oneself too thin. “Of course, you want to get a lot of things done but it’s not possible everytime and shedding a few things can be great. It’s about going deep rather than wide,” she says.
So far, it’s been a wonderful life with not much to regret. Singh says that her group will continue to balance both auto and hospitality segments, and she isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. “At this stage of my life, I do not see myself taking the backseat at all. I see us growing into a more environmentally friendly company and having a bigger footprint,” she says. Her father, Deep C Anand, has left a well-oiled machine for the determined scion and she hopes she can do the same for the next generation. The 60-year-old legacy looks safe in her hands.