As part of the Star Plus Nayi Soch initiative, we unveil a series of father-daughter interviews that challenge gender stereotypes and give a glimpse into this very special bond.
Devendra Shah, Chairman & Managing Director Parag Milk Foods and his daughter Akshali Shah, VP, Strategy Planning-Sales & Marketing at Parag Milk Foods tell us how working together closely has enabled them to break traditional gender barriers and dream bigger.
An unusual upbringing
Akshali tells us about her unconventional education: “My father sent me to study at a unique school near the hills in rural Maharashtra when I was in Std IV. We had classrooms under the tree. It was quite a spiritual school and when I think back, I never really thanked him for putting me in such a different school. I came out of school a completely different and confident person.”
To which her father says, “Any father dreams that his daughter should have a good education and be in a good environment. Sending her away young wasn’t easy for her mother and me, but we knew it was in her best interest.”
Shah tells us that while he wants his daughter to choose her own path, he does have a dream for her. “We recently launched our IPO, and we were just seeing the BSE set up and how the bell is rung. I remember telling Akshali that it is my dream that one day she should be there herself and ring the bell for her own company. I am certain she will do that. She is already far better than I am and thinks way ahead for the company and I am very impressed at how far she has come,” he says with pride.
“Working with my dad here has been such a privilege. Growing up, I always wanted to be like him and imitated his every move,” Akshali adds.
Akshali has a word of advice for young women with big dreams: “I would wish for other young women in the country to have the kind of freedom that I had while growing up. People tell you that you need to sit and behave in a certain way but I would tell other young women out there to do what makes you most happy and to follow your heart.”
Shah says, “I have two daughters – my other daughter is a housewife and I respect that too. My younger daughter decided to join the business and I never told her this is only for your brother. I want all my children to be happy, successful and free to do whatever they want.”