Interview with Aakanksha Bhargava, Woman Entrepreneur & CEO of PM Relocations
As women leave the boundaries of the home and the hearth, they all over the world are embracing leadership roles in industries that were formerly dominated by men.
Ms. Aakanksha Bhargava, CEO of PM Relocations is the ideal example of a contemporary female leader who is changing the echelons of power and boardrooms in the corporate setting.
She began her impressive journey to become one of the most successful women entrepreneurs at the age of 21.
Even though the relocation industry is always considered a male dominant industry, her entrepreneurial family background has always fascinated her.
She inherited the business from her father and has been in charge of the company with the zeal and passion to grow it.
Under her guidance & exemplary leadership, the company has grown immensely as she single-handedly opened numerous offices in a short period.
Taking into account the company’s impressive increase in sales from a turnover of INR 3 crore in 2007 to INR 200+ crore at the present, she has contributed to the company’s business growing logarithmically into a brand with her distinctive and original approach. The company has grown over 4000% from when it rebranded itself in 2007.
PM Relocations’ legacy expands across 36 years where they have learned, innovated, and grown not only physically servicing across the globe but also in terms of the impact they created by seamlessly moving over 3 Lac homes over the last three decades.
The brand portfolios are PMR (B2B Brand – Domestic & International Relocations), PMRGO (B2C Brand for Domestic Home Shifting), PMR Logistics (Commercial Moving), Relo+ (End to End Relocation and Settling-in Assistance), Petco (Pet Moving), Artistics (Art Moving), Baggage+ (Baggage Moving) and Store+ (Storage & Warehousing).
With its diversified brand portfolios and tailor-made solutions, they cater to top fortune 500 companies, robust industries, art galleries, embassies, and individuals.
She is also collaborating with Lakshyam NGO for a fundraiser called “Fashion for Cause” which will be happening on the 25th of September.
Money raised from the fundraiser will go to the foundation and will be used for kids. She will also be supporting 2 girls from the foundation and will be taking care of their education for one full year.
Tell us a little about yourself
Aakanksha Bhargava: I was born in Kolkata, India into a business family. When I was just 7 years old, my family relocated to Delhi where I graduated from the illustrious Hindu College.
At the Hindu college, I held 3 prestigious positions – President of the Placement society, President of the Choreography society, and the Cultural Head for the College fest Mecca.
Moving ahead to gain deeper knowledge on managing a business, I pursued and successfully completed my MBA from the world-renowned SP Jain School of Management (Singapore and Dubai).
Please tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey
Aakanksha Bhargava: This is a family-run business, and I grew up watching the business being built and nurtured, and I always dreamt of taking it to the next level.
After my MBA, this has been my first work experience and I have been working since April 2007. I joined the family business at the age of 21 and scaled the ranks from being Manager in International Sales to spearheading growth.
I have stayed in multiple cities for an average of 6 months alone like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Chennai for researching and setting up offices. Today we are a team of over 700 people, with 10 offices pan-India.
It has always been a challenge to be a women entrepreneur, with me the age was also a constraint since I was a young girl (when I started at the age of 21) in an industry that is male-dominated, In fact, has only male denomination at a leadership or senior role.
I am proud of the fact that when I started my journey I was the only woman leader who was spearheading a move management company at such a large scale, which is otherwise considered a labour-intensive industry and “not the right place for women“.
Earlier the notion was that it was considered a man’s job to deal with suppliers, labours, and packers, and handle premium clients.
Hence growth and sustenance had been a challenge!! One of the biggest challenges we faced as a company was that we were stagnant for mathe jority of our initial years, not many from the industry wanted to join us.
Over this period, I had to lead by example at all levels right from selling to building the brand, to keep upgrading the processes and systems with increasing work and manpower, setting up a professional culture and most importantly all of this had to be done in a limited budget as we were bootstrapped.
Also, ours is not a very active service business rather its based-on needs, hence, having a strong brand recall value was very crucial for our success.
Kindly brief us about PM Relocations, its specialization, and the services that it offers
Aakanksha Bhargava: P.M. Relocations Pvt Ltd (PMR) is a global relocation company based out of India. We are driven by our passion to be the best and most preferred name amongst our clients and partners when it comes to relocation and settling-in services.
We understand that moving homes can be a stressful activity if done without the right moving companion, hence our core foundation is built upon exceptional and quality service offering to remove stress out of our customers moving experiences.
Our legacy expands across 37 years where we have learnt, innovated, and grown not only physically servicing across the globe but also in terms of the impact we created by seamlessly moving over 15000+ families in a year.
PMR is a unique blend of both traditional philosophies and entrepreneurial strength and innovativeness.
Our brand portfolios are PMRGO (Domestic Moving), PMR Logistics (Commercial Moving), Relo+ (End to End Relocation and Settling in Assistance), PetGo (Pet Moving) , Artistics (Art Moving) , Baggage+ (Baggage Moving) and Store+ (Storage & Warehousing).
With our diversified brand portfolios and tailormade solutions, we cater to top fortune 500 companies, robust industries, art galleries, embassies and individuals.
PMR over the last two years has successfully achieved growth of over 130% despite the challenges faced around the pandemic, being bootstrapped, ambiguous scenario of the logistics industry, bringing back skilled manpower to work, dealing with a highly unorganized market and lack of industry segmentation, and growing concerns over agile and resilient business services.
What is your biggest USP
Aakanksha Bhargava: Our differentiation is that we are not just a mover but a complete solution provider, for anybody who wants to relocate to any part of the world, handling all requirements.
PMR has one of the largest infrastructure networks in the country when it comes to professional service offering.
Our USP would be our trained team, our own crew, own set up’s pan India, and trusted clients who have been with us for over two decades.
We are known for our passion, quality, and value centred approach which we demonstrate on each of our moves.
What made you choose this type of business?
Aakanksha Bhargava: I always wanted to contribute and impact the lives of individuals around me. Joining PMR was a very natural decision for me after completing my MBA from SP Jain School of Management, Singapore, and Dubai.
I would say the trigger for this decision was my father Mr. Rajeev Bhargava, MD (PMR). I still remember that he used to take me along for many of his surveys at client’s home and conferences.
My first memory as a child is of how he never had work off his mind, he never took leaves and also worked on holidays, he always used to be working and took me along whenever he had no option to leave me anywhere.
I was always fascinated with the fact about him putting in his 200% in doing a what he was doing and ensuring that his clients have a safe and hassle-free transition to their new home.
When I initially joined the business in 2007, getting work done by the established male dominant workforce was very difficult.
Majority of the people, be it my partners, clients and customers were apprehensive and hence they didn’t take me seriously since I was considered the ‘Boss’s Daughter’, who was both young and a fresher in the industry. I was just 21 and considered an underdog.
Hence, I had to really work hard to change their perception and grow in a segment which was tough given the industry dynamics and recognition.
What was the inspiration behind turning a woman entrepreneur
Aakanksha Bhargava: I was always fascinated with the relocation industry, which turned into a career option for me. Apart from my father, my mother has been one of my biggest inspirations into turning a woman entrepreneur.
As I grew up, I saw my mother seamlessly multitask and handle both the responsibilities at home, nurturing me and also at work.
I remember, she used to be a work throughout the day and used to come to pick me up from school in her scooter, take me home, feed me lunch and then take me for hobby classes. It’s her strength and grit which transitioned into the foundation of my learning and inspiration.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Aakanksha Bhargava: Failure is a very subjective word, and it could mean very different for each individual. Talking from my personal failure experience, it has been times when I have taken certain decisions in life and for them not resulting in the answers which I had estimated.
However, I have never regretted in taking those as it not necessary that every action one takes should yield a beautiful result.
Key things to consider before starting a packer and movers’ business.
Aakanksha Bhargava: First and foremost, one really needs to have the love and passion to move families. Planning a move can look great over paper however, it is a lot challenging if not planned meticulously.
When you are moving a family, its not just limited to one’s things but extends far beyond to their emotions, sentiments, and relationships also.
Secondly, its important to find and hire the right team for both the office and on-ground teams as both play a crucial role.
Thirdly, I would always advocate to go for the ‘Right Quality’ be it with respect to product, people or overall brand appeal.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Aakanksha Bhargava: This is something I truly believed in when I started my journey that, “It’s just about the strength of one’s mind and having the faith in the intent of their heart, for an individual to take the plunge and see miracles manifest into reality”.
Also, one should never look at competing with others but themselves as the desire to achieve and gain will eventually bring out the best in them.
There can be days at a stretch where one might end up questioning their path however, if you have the right purpose and intent in front of you, it only a matter of time that they would be able to see the fruits of their labour.
Your success tips for women entrepreneurs
Aakanksha Bhargava: I honestly see a huge potential for women who are just starting up new business. The society has evolved and grown acceptable towards women working in both conventional and unconventional fields. Some of my success tips would be:
- Keep the romance and passion flowing to discover the hidden magic within!
- It’s crucial to be crazy about your passion or something in order to excel one’s own expectations.
- Having the right intent is important.
- Also, hard work and passion are a must to succeed in whatever one does!
- Whatever happens, take accountability.
I strongly feel that there is no differentiation between a woman and a man. I have been brought up both ways where my mother used to treat me like a daughter and my father groomed me as son.
Also, these hurdles are just in the mind and hence, I have always done what I felt I had to do and not because I was a woman working in a male dominated industry or someone who is breaking some stereotype.
I strongly believe – “Time can change a lot of things, situations, circumstances… but it can never take away your will, courage, and determination to chase your dreams.
It can make or break you but cannot stop you!!!”. Today in the 21st century many successful women can be seen paving their success journey by breaking stereotypes.
My journey has been both enriching and exhilarating in terms of experiences, learnings, and knowledge. Hence, it feels great to be able to be a part of something which is so close to my heart and vision.
Yes, women entrepreneurs in India have to face challenging patriarchal mindsets to fight the disability in pursuit of their passions.
Today, it is very easy for women to take up conventional jobs, but very difficult to fight against the society to enter into the men’s world.
No matter how actively we participate in the workforce today, many still feel that feminine jobs are restricted to children, health, beauty, and culinary work.
And a constant need to prove self on daily basis arises regardless of the profession. Its, so important for entrepreneurs to pick up what they do and genuinely fall in love with it.
Because when you fall in love, you are always going to conquer and win it over unconditionally. There would never be tirelessness nor failure would matter because you feel so blessed everyday just because you are in love with what you do!!
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