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   Vol. 13 No. 92  
Monday November 10, 2014

Padma Has No Regrets

Padma Has No Regrets

     For someone who was literally pushed in to the air cargo industry, Padma Handa has no regrets. In fact, she comes across as one who joined the industry yesterday. Ever eager to learn how the industry functions, she took on the mantle of director, Sunrise Freight Forwarders, and decided that the only way she could progress would be to become proactive. Today, after more than half-a-dozen years—“I joined in 2006”—she is not only well aware of the challenges forwarders face in India, but also knows how best to tackle them.
     Handa acknowledges that the cargo industry is indeed “male-dominated” in India and for a woman “it is difficult.” When we questioned why she joined the industry, she said, “Due to certain health issues of my husband (the owner of Sunrise), there was a vacuum in the organization. I had to leave my job and step into this industry.” She was quick to add that, “after some initial hiccups, it has been a smooth ride so far.”
     The hiccups that she spoke about came from some seniors in her husband’s organization who resented the intrusion from a novice—and from a woman, at that. Handa faced the onslaught head on.      She remembered those early days: “Initially, some senior colleagues found it extremely difficult to cope and many of them left the organization. Since then, many have come in and there have been no issues with them.” Today, she handles the company’s Human Resources division and does a bit of marketing.
     Keeping track with what is going on in the industry, Handa pointed out that, “the journey has been good… it has been a learning experience. In fact, I am still learning and getting to know more about the industry: how those in it think and how they work… Cargo and logistics is always interesting and challenging.
     “Challenges excite me. Every day is a challenge and one keeps learning.”
     As a woman, Handa knows the problems her sisters face in the industry. While she tackled her teething problems “being one of the part owners,” she assures that she learnt about the business since “there has been no lack of opportunity based on gender for me in the organization.” As for the other ladies, as head of HR, Handa has changed a lot of things: “The organization is extremely sensitive to gender issues. Women can take up any challenge to come their way. Women are supported throughout maternity issues far beyond the provisions of law. For women in particular, as well as other personnel, we encourage flexible working hours as well as working from home or offsite,” she said.
     Her only advice to those who want to join the industry—especially women—is to “have an open mind. The cargo industry is an exciting one; there are plenty of new things to learn, it isn’t mundane, and most important, the work is not totally repetitive and there are plenty of challenges.
     “One need not know rocket science to succeed in our industry,” she said.
     Handa’s leadership qualities have been recognized, and she was elected as a member of the Managing Committee of the Air Cargo Club of Delhi.
     She left us with a quote we will remember for a long time: “My takeaway is that one will remain young and active while in this industry.”
Tirthankar Ghosh

Alongside Women
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Tell the industry about a female at any level that you know, or have known about in air cargo. Write a short essay about what that woman means to air cargo. Pictures are welcome.
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Gitika A. Pruthi
Inspiring Change
Flossie Arend
Karen Reddington FedEx Singapore South Pacific
Karen Reddington

Carmen Taylor


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