Women Of Substance

Women are making their mark everywhere, and the optical industry is no exception. From familial support to an undying passion to make things work, find out what drives some of the leading ladies of the Indian optical industry

Dia Kothari

Dia Kothari, Marketing Manager, Ganko Opticians

Dia Kothari
Marketing Manager, Ganko Opticians

On joining a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Dia Kothari (DK): My decision to join the business three years back was an extension of my skill in the areas of branding, communication and marketing. Ganko needed a fresh and a non-product driven approach, and I best suited the challenge. I have successfully carved a niche in the company to think out of the box and bring in more colour in the traditional optical industry.

On the journey so far.
DK: It has been fun and challenging. Initially the industry had been used to a traditional way of working and building relationships with customers and partners, but today there are so many new approaches, like one-on-one communication through social media and events, that are changing the way we do business. Some mindset changes needed fine tuning, but I was happy to see our ideologies come to life after I joined Ganko.

On the role family has played in her success.
DK: We have a professional setup and I am a part of the team. The family has been supportive to the extent of giving me a platform to work with the team and resources being made available at all times. It’s a team environment and team driven motivation that has helped me to work effectively.

On the talent women have brought to the optical industry.
DK: Fashion and women are synonymous, and the optical industry being a part of the fashion spectrum has made women very successful in this industry. Women have been able to dictate trends and designs as they have an eye for design and detailing. They are also very successful in processes and service-oriented areas of the business.

On the need for associations that support and promote the professional development of women in the Indian optical industry.
DK: We have already started engaging more women in optometry through Lotus College and like-minded institutes, and more support from such associations will motivate and train women in all spheres of technical and marketing areas.

On the secret of being a successful woman entrepreneur in the optical industry.
DK: A woman’s core strengths are dedication, loyalty and sincerity. These are powerful virtues for the optical industry as it is a relationship-based business. Women can grow in this industry by focussing on their core skills and knowledge. The industry is shifting from being a male-dominated space to a neutral environment. So it’s a matter of time before women start taking more lead roles leading to many more success stories.


Meghana Manay

Meghana Manay, Director – Marketing & Expansions, S.R.Gopal Rao Opticians

Meghana Manay
Director – Marketing & Expansions, S.R.Gopal Rao Opticians

On joining a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Meghana Manay (MM): Optical retail still has a long way to go before it gender-neutralises completely. But, to answer your question, I did not choose this profession, it chose me, and I took up the role to continue the legacy and bring S.R.Gopal Rao Opticians into a new era of technology, design and marketing.

On the journey so far.
MM: The journey has had its share of ups and downs. A family run establishment in India is traditionally patriarchal and society assumes that it will pass on from father to son. We broke the stereotype when I entered the business, and accepting a female authoritative figure took longer. I still hear some people say ‘S.R.Gopal Rao & Sons’, which is ironic as the business was inherited by my grandmother after her father, and the founder, S.R.Gopal Rao passed away.

On the role family has played in her success.
MM: My family has always supported ideas, and encouraged me and my sister to be independent. I made a few mistakes and eventually realised that unless I studied the subject it would be a while before I could make myself useful. So, with the support of family, I identified a good course to learn the necessary skills. It has helped me contribute more effectively to the business.

On the talent women have brought to the optical industry.
MM: Based on my business alone I can state that women are natural multi-taskers as they are responsible for both the retail store and clinical front. They are methodical and intuitive, making them better managers too.

On the need for associations that support and promote the professional development of women in the Indian optical industry.
MM: A woman’s association would definitely help, but an association consisting of competent, experienced opticians and optometrists who would educate individuals in opticianry, regardless of their gender, would be more beneficial. There could be a module in the course which would help women understand the benefits of working in the optical industry.

On the secret of being a successful woman entrepreneur in the optical industry.
MM: I have built each business relationship based on the person that I am interacting with and not depending on the gender. My advice would be to follow the same.


Nidhi Reddy, General Manager, Dar Optics India

Nidhi Reddy,
General Manager, Dar Optics India

Nidhi Reddy
General Manager, Dar Optics India

On joining a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Nidhi Reddy (NR): My dad has been in the optical industry for the last eight years, and built a very successful company through his marketing skills. I learnt a lot at a young age which aroused my interest. After moving to India I decided to work in the eyewear industry since I have always believed that eyewear is not only a necessity, but also an important fashion accessory.

On the journey so far.
NR: I have enjoyed learning about India as it is a new market for me. The learning has been a continuous but slow process, so it won’t stop here. India is a huge country and one can only imagine the heterogeneity of it. However, I have always been treated warmly and received a lot of support from others. It encouraged me and boosted my confidence.

On the role family has played in her success.
NR: I have an awesome and supportive family! My dad has been my biggest inspiration. I aim to be as good as he is, both personally and professionally, but still have a long way to go. I also have a very caring and supportive husband. He is my biggest strength and keeps me grounded and practical.

On the talent women have brought to the optical industry.
NR: Women hold the power to convince and organise. They bring a fresh perspective to this industry. They love their work and it shows in the efforts they put in to exceed expectations.

On the need for associations that support and promote the professional development of women in the Indian optical industry.
NR: Yes, of course. It will help women who are interested in this industry find the right people to learn from and can also encourage other women to join. Women who are already a part of this industry can share their knowledge, learning and experiences with the freshers. The right direction is very important and an association of this sort can provide it.

On the secret of being a successful woman entrepreneur in the optical industry.
NR: Nothing beats confidence. It can take you places. Faith also plays an important part; it helps you take the risks you want to and maintain a positive approach.


Nupur Gupta Chief Product and Marketing Manager, GKB Opticals

Nupur Gupta,
Chief Product and Marketing Manager, GKB Opticals

Nupur Gupta
Chief Product and Marketing Manager, GKB Opticals

On joining a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Nupur Gupta (NG): I found the optical industry to be a very exciting and challenging place. The optical line being a perfect blend of medical and fashion components really fascinated me because it is quite stable and technologically innovative.

On the journey so far.
NG: The initial stages of my journey were difficult because the male members of the team weren’t comfortable. But I worked hard and earned their trust and respect. Coping with different personalities, different learning curves and stubborn viewpoints were the most difficult roadblocks. The optical industry has been built by people who have been a part of it for many years, so my suggestions were taken with a pinch of salt. I took up a lot of initiatives to streamline processes, started innovative marketing programs and of course the CSR initiative with the help of the entire product team.

On the role family has played in her success.
NG: My family is my biggest support system. I always call them when I feel low and they are also the first to know of any success. I won’t say I am successful yet, but my family indeed plays a huge role in my journey to be successful.

On the talent women have brought to the optical industry.
NG: Given that fashion is a key component in our industry, the lack of women surprises me. A large chunk of our customer base comprises women, and in order to purchase products to suit a woman’s taste truly requires, in my opinion, another woman. Women can do everything their male counterparts can.

On the need for associations that support and promote the professional development of women in the Indian optical industry.
NG: A majority of the top cohort of graduating optometrists from the top universities are women. The problem is that these talented, trained and experienced women optometrists stop working after marriage. Setting up associations to support women won’t help if the women themselves don’t continue to work. This mindset needs to change first, associations can then be set up to further drive their growth.

On the secret of being a successful woman entrepreneur in the optical industry.
NG: Would you ever ask a man this question? No one ever asks a man the secret to his success, hence I ask – Why this bias? It is in this bias itself that women get discouraged in the first place. The key to success is just sheer hard work and determination, it has nothing to do with gender.


Priyal Khara

Priyal Khara, Marketing Operations, Mangalsons Group and SFX Eyewear

Priyal Khara
Marketing Operations, Mangalsons Group and SFX Eyewear

On joining a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Priyal Khara (PK): Eyewear manufacture and retail might have been a male preoccupation, but marketing & advertising aren’t. There’s a lot of scope for this industry if it’s marketed well. While retail always attracted me more, with time I realised that an ophthalmic lens is the most important product in the optical industry but it is not marketed well. Thus, in spite of it being a male-dominated business, I decided to join it.

On the journey so far.
PK: It’s been quite challenging! It’s a very unorganised market. Implementing new strategies & experimenting with new concepts and ideas isn’t easy, for there’s a lot of resistance to change. Manufacturers and distributors have to struggle in terms of payments. I have also noticed that most traders and retailers are not well-versed with quality and do not research about products well before buying them. They opt for international brands without realising that the quality of Indian products is just as good.

On the role family has played in her success.
PK: I cannot call myself successful yet because there is a lot more to be achieved. My family has been very supportive and encouraging towards my work. They have always welcomed new ideas and trends, as they too realise its benefit for the company and the overall trade.

On the talent women have brought to the optical industry.
PK: There might have been many women in this industry who must have achieved a lot, but they clearly haven’t been given enough credit. If they were, we wouldn’t be calling this a male-dominated industry, would we?

On the need for associations that support and promote the professional development of women in the Indian optical industry.
PK: Women should be equally recognised and given opportunities in this industry. There’s plenty of room for growth and development, and adding a new, important dimension to this field, that’s women, could do wonders! I hope to see a strong support system for the women in our industry soon.

On the secret of being a successful woman entrepreneur in the optical industry.
PK: The mantra to success isn’t any different for me just because I am a woman. Following a code of conduct, implementing processes and bringing modern thinking into the picture whilst still maintaining traditional aspects are what keep me going.


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