Menka Soni is the Founder, President and CEO of Ravishing Women.org.
Ravishing Women is a non profit organization with the mission to inspire, motivate, appreciate and empower women. Menka also founded an event management company which is part of the Ravishing Inc.
Menka’s intro in her own words:
After having worked in the Big 5 & Fortune 100 companies like Microsoft, General Motors, Starbucks, HP and BearingPoint, I started my own venture in the Fashion and Pageantry industry and then event management. I pushed myself to go out of comfort zone to establish these ventures/startups and in the process went through ups and downs and learnt a lot along the way. I believe that giving back to the community is very important and I am happy that I am able to do that as a side effect of my entrepreneurial ventures.
How did you come to the US? For studies or as a dependent?
For work in IT department of General Motors in Michigan in 2004.
What were the challenges you faced during/after your transition from India to here? How did you overcome those challenges?
Initial challenges were to adjust in a new culture, environment, away from family. Initially, my husband Ashish was working in another city and my one year old daughter was staying in India with grand parents as I could not get her visa with mine, at that time. Second challenge was to adjust to the new work culture and job requirements. Though I was managing the GM projects from India before moving to USA fairly well the challenges of working in person with the teams in a new place was a great new learning experience in itself. My colleagues were very supportive and helped me in several ways when I was trying to manage things alone. To overcome those challenges it was important to start accepting “change” in all the ways. That really helped me gel in the new place and environment and settle down.
Next challenge was commute as public transport was limited and I did not have a car at that time. Slowly, I started learning how to drive and once I had my car it made life much easier for me.
We all know that when we are new in the US we are yet to build a credit history and till that happens it hard to buy a phone, home, car loans etc. However after a few months our credit history had improved and we were able to start applying for all benefits that came with a good credit history.
Acute cold & snowy weather in Michigan and driving on icy roads was like a nightmare. However, it was our first experience too so we decided to enjoy that rather than worrying about hardships.
What did you do your Masters in? How do you think this education has helped you in your career?
I have an MBA with specialization in Finance and I am also a certified investment banker. I believe that this education helped me find jobs and build a career here!
What do you attribute your success to?
Blessings of God & elders, support from my husband Ashish, my daughters, friends and well wishers. Success will always be there if there is positive and constructive approach with passion, dedication, hope & faith.
What were your initial days in the Unites States like?
We were like excited tourists traveling every weekend to explore United States, learners like curious students to get hands on experience on every aspect including food, culture, technology, living and lot more and of course used to miss family & loved ones in India. I am am very passionate about Indian culture and arts. I created various community events to celebrate festivals like holi, diwali, durga pooja and many more.
One good thing that I still appreciate is the bonding that was developed in our initial days while living in apartment with friends who became more like family and not just neighbors. We have lived so many moments together, trying to help each other in every small little things, standing together in every difficult situation, traveling together and most importantly sharing love when we all will miss our families back home. We all bought & moved into our own homes but that bond was priceless.
What were your biggest challenges in transitioning from conventional employment to being an entrepreneur?
This journey to entrepreneurship was destined to happen. Right from my childhood, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and even a philanthropist with my own non-profit and serve the community. Initially I created safety net around me and tried to manage job & business together for several years but then realized that I cannot make business full time till I am living with fear of failure. It was indeed a hard call to make when I decided to quit completely from my full time IT job with a great pay and started focussing on business completely.
Honestly, initially, it was very tough, as I did face a lot of challenges and there have been several moments where in I have doubted my decision of doing this full time. Everyone would question this decision. Financially, it came as a set back too. I have come to believe that running a business needs way too much efforts as compared to being in a conventional employment. But yet in the midst of all this I knew in my heart that I am born to be a successful entrepreneur and will sail through all these rough waves. I have learnt & grown with every failure and every success has made me more humble and centered. I am still in the process of learning, growing, transforming and evolving, each and every day. I just want to enjoy this process and journey and I believe that these are my stories that I will look back upon, to tell with pride, once I am at my destination.
What do you value most in your entrepreneurial venture (Ravishing Women)?
Ravishing Women’s journey is my most beautiful journey so far as this has helped me to self empower and support and uplift other women. I strongly believe in growing together to transform dreams into reality and we grow by uplifting others. I really feel proud of having this platform that is continuously encouraging, inspiring, appreciating & empowering women. This is a non profit organization and has supported so many other non profit causes under this umbrella.
How’s your work life balance?
It’s tough but still manageable with the support of my husband and my daughters. I strongly believe that every woman just like any man would have spent the same amount of time while she was studying & struggling to build her career with her education. Therefore her education should be respected and not asked to be compromised just for sake of raising family & kids. It is absolutely fine if she herself wants to make that decision but if spouses & family can extend support to let her manage her responsibilities then she can also pursue her dreams and live her passion. For me to live my dreams and make it happen I have worked in full time jobs, while managing my businesses, 2 kids and family and yet being very socially active with my responsibilities. I always tell myself that I can do it and I am able to do it somehow with my magic mantra that always reminds me “I Can and I will”. Don’t know but everyone calls me “Super woman” 😊. I try to focus my energies and attention in actually doing work rather than spending my energy in just thinking & worrying about amount of work. It is all in your mind and thoughts to make it happen.
What is your advice to the younger folks who aspire to be entrepreneurs?
Road might be tough, failures might come, hardships will be there, people & circumstances may discourage you, everything might look topsy turvy and you will feel just about to give up! But remember every time you feel like giving up that these are to make you stronger and build your success stories. If you truly believe in your dreams then TIME IS NOW TO LIVE THEM! Don’t give up because you have capability to make them real.