The beverage industry is among the most dynamic ones in the country right now. Schauna Chauhan, CEO of Parle Agro, reflects on how she stays ahead of the curve and tells us about her most lavish holidays. By Sumeet Keswani
T+L India: When did you decide you’d join your father in the business?
Schauna Chauhan: By the time I started high school, I knew I wanted to join the family business. So, I chose my majors in college accordingly. During college, I went to Paris for a weekend with my friends, and that is when I got a call from my dad saying he was waiting for me to return and join work. That was the first time he openly told me that he wanted me to take the family business ahead. His faith in me further strengthened my decision.
T+L India: Since you took over the role of CEO, what changes have you brought into the business?
Schauna Chauhan: I’ve spearheaded the use of technology at Parle Agro. As a result, we now have more data to analyse and take faster decisions. We have also transitioned to a largely paperless and process-driven organisation with good, sturdy systems in place. We have increased our employee strength, as we have recruited [for] specialised departments.
T+L India: What’s the next big trend you foresee in the industry?
Schauna Chauhan: Consumers are looking for value-based beverages. Our value-packs are being sold at incredible price points of INR 10 and INR 5, with sizes going down to 85ml and 65ml.
T+L India: What’s next for Parle Agro?
Schauna Chauhan: We have now entered the dairy beverage category with a flavoured milk brand named Smoodh.
T+L India: What is your advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Schauna Chauhan: Only you can take yourself to the goal. One must not be afraid to assert themselves where they need to. Be passionate and persistent, and allow failures to teach you.
T+L India: What kind of traveller are you?
Schauna Chauhan: I like to go with a pre-planned itinerary, so there’s no point where I don’t know what to do. I don’t mind shuffling the itinerary around or skipping things once I’ve gotten to the place. I’m not much of a history buff, so I balance out the must-see places. I love the outdoors, serene places, and small villages. Your work must take you places.
T+L India: Tell us about the most fascinating destinations you have visited.
Schauna Chauhan: Sicily in Italy is by far the most fascinating destination I’ve visited. I loved everything about Sicily—the street markets, beaches, volcanoes, and the slow life.
T+L India: What is the most luxurious holiday you’ve ever taken?
Schauna Chauhan: When I went to Monaco for a Formula 1 race, we stayed at a luxury hotel that took care of each and every detail of our trip. Everything was personalised to our liking, from the food to the transportation to the little things. The nights at the grand casino and the opera were well planned to ensure that the experience was to our liking. And then, watching the Formula 1 race live from luxury yachts and the stands was an incredible feeling. The track also opens up every evening and becomes one big dance floor. The overall experience was amazing and unforgettable.
T+L India: What are your top MICE destinations?
Schauna Chauhan: Shanghai, Germany, Paris, and Barcelona.
T+L India: Any places on your bucket list?
Schauna Chauhan: I have quite a few—Korea, Japan, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, and Iceland.