The “Beverage Baroness” behind Parle Agro’s soaring market share against stiff competition: Meet Schauna Chauhan

Having taken over as the CEO of Parle Agro in 2006, Chauhan works closely with her top team and her two sisters, and takes care of manufacturing, compliance, quality, finance and technical functions. “My sisters are my back up and I can rely on them for anything,” she says.

She owes her early cultural awakening to her time in boarding school in Kodaikanal, and the broadening of her perspective to her year spent at Franklin College in Switzerland in 1995 for a degree in international management.

Chauhan was always sure that she would join the family business in Mumbai. She clocked two years as executive (operations) and “endlessly signing vouchers,” as she puts it, before the family split in 2001. “The organisation had to be rebuilt and it was a critical period. Everything till then had come to us, and now we had to work many times harder,” says Chauhan, adding that there was a huge focus on cost optimisation and increasing productivity.

As a result of the split, there was a high level of dependence on Frooti – but, by 2004, Chauhan ensured that its market share was recaptured in the face of neck-and-neck competition with Slice. She pulled this off masterfully by launching a 65 ml triangular pack for the rural market, which translated into an increase in the product reach as well as outlet base by 30%.

As Appy Fizz showed promise and added further value to their product range, Chauhan now dreams of making Parle Agro one of the largest beverage companies in the country. This dream may not be too-far-fetched, for today, their products are sold in 50 countries. From a turnover of Rs.4.5 billion in 2008, Parle Agro is today a Rs.16 billion company.

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