India Se: Tell us a little about your childhood, education and formative years?
Vaishali Sarwankar: Born in a highly conservative Maharashtrian family, I was a rebel who always challenged the norm. My early life was spent in Mumbai where I did my schooling and later pursued my MBA in Finance from NMIMS. My love for Maths from an early age helped me pick trading as a profession — and the negotiating skills I picked up from my parents while buying fish on Sundays from the market made a fine trader. My father being a disciplined gazette officer instilled values and ethics in me and my three sisters. He took pride in us, calling us a pack of wolves!
India Se: You were a commodities trader before entering the entertainment space? What prompted you to make that switch?
Vaishali Sarwankar: Cinema has always had a special place in my life. You can say my passion for cinema and challenges prompted me to take a plunge in the entertainment space.
India Se: Both the commodities and entertainment/lifestyle sectors are male-driven. How did you break the gender barrier and rise so high in your profession?
Vaishali Sarwankar: I am glad that the scenario is changing and there is a shift in each space towards gender neutrality. But the challenges were much greater two decades ago. And for me breaking the glass ceiling was indeed a mission which I successfully accomplished. You have to be focused and firm in your decisions. Doing the right thing in the right way has always helped me in my endeavours. I also had prodigious support from seniors who helped me break the barrier.
India Se: Being one of the founder directors of Carnival, you have seen the company grow by leaps and bounds. What is your vision/plans for the coming years?
Vaishali Sarwankar: Carnival is a place where we share a relationship of nurturing each other. I have seen it grow exponentially in all aspects under the astute senior leadership and the key core members who have made the journey together. I have also experimented with various roles and responsibilities and they were all enriching and rewarding. I am heading the Carnival Movies business distribution arm currently in international markets and trying to craft a niche market space for it. CMI is more like my baby as I have been involved in the whole process since inception. It is something I am passionate about and wish to take it higher in sync with the chairman’s vision for movie distribution. We are striving towards the goal. It is to become the most preferred movie distribution company for producers and exhibitors across the globe.
India Se: You are a social activist too. Would you like to tell us more about your work in this sphere?
Vaishali Sarwankar: As a philanthropist, I have supported empowerment of women. I have always encouraged women to stand up for themselves. To make sure that they feel empowered, in our organisation we arrange grooming sessions for our girls and train them in martial arts. We invite industry experts to share their stories with our female employees so that they learn to stand up for themselves.
I try my best to help the needy in the best possible manner. I have adopted 40 girls in my native place to help them in their education and meet their other needs.
India Se: Currently there is a growing presence of women in the corporate world, but not enough yet. What do you think should be done to encourage more women to join this sector?
Vaishali Sarwankar: There has been progress. Reports have shown an exponential growth in the number of women in business and they are excelling in a big way. With education levels improving, women are finding it much easier to work in any industry. Today, various leading firms have women in leading roles guiding and inspiring the employees. Corporate houses have also introduced various policies for women, helping them secure a place. Better policies and flexible hours are some of the things that help female employees to be motivated and to contribute in a better way.
India Se: What are your other interests and hobbies?
Vaishali Sarwankar: I read in my free time. I always believe one should never stop learning or gaining knowledge.
India Se: Is there anything else that you might want to add?
Vaishali Sarwankar: Set your goals and be passionate about it. Passion is the one thing that will let you achieve even what you feel is impossible. The world today is highly challenging. Always try to go the extra mile to get extraordinary results. There is no substitute for hard work.