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Empower: Helping cut work stress
Samyukta Bhowmick
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February 12, 2005

He gave up a lucrative job to do so, but insists that he had no misgivings about the move, because he put into effect his own mantras about how to tackle barriers to success and to not feel more stress than is absolutely necessary.

And it would seem that his mantras have worked, for today Empower is helping more and more employees to maintain a work-life balance and reduce work-related stress.

An early start

Since my dad was in the Air Force, I moved around a lot as a child. In each place I would be at a new school, surrounded by new people. In retrospect, this was probably quite a boon because it taught me to be confident around people, and make friends very easily.

I also became comfortable with change; this really helped me later when I was planning to set up on my own.

Becoming empowered

After completing my BCom, I did my MBA at IMT Ghaziabad, and got a job as a training consultant with a company called Team Productivity. I later moved to NIIT [Get Quote] and worked at NIS, but after a while I got restless.

I felt that I'd like to work more with people and make more of a difference, so, although it meant leaving a secure job, I made the leap.

At that time I had a one-year-old daughter, I was renting a flat, and paying installments on my car. On top of this, as a matter of honour I couldn't take my old clients with me when I left.

I really think that it's only because of the fact that I believed in myself so much that I survived. I had to keep saying to myself -- and I say this to my employees all the time -- only death can defeat me now.

Building a name

In the first year, I concentrated on building a reputation for myself, rather than working on the bottomline. I realised from the beginning that if I did a project for a certain CEO, and that CEO endorsed my service, that endorsement would mean a great deal more in the long run than the remuneration I would get for that job.

As with any business, there were preliminary hurdles: striking the balance between managing the business and actually working on projects, for example.

This was a particular problem when we expanded, for I had to acquire a degree of financial literacy in a very short space of time.

Practising what I preach

I think that one of the reasons I have succeeded at what I do is because of the team that I have.

Getting a hold of the right people is such a problem, but I really believe that I have, and by leading by example, I feel that I've created a good work environment here at Empower.

I have a high degree of passion and pride for what I do, and I've tried to infuse that in my team, now grown to 18.

Phone psychology

Now that our phonelines are up and running (we're also planning them in Bangalore and Mumbai and by 2010, I hope to have reached out to 100 cities), I feel like we're reaching out to a lot more people. The problem here is that going to see a psychiatrist has so much stigma attached to it.

People prefer anonymity -- and that's why phones are perfect. We've got professional psychologists and counselors working with us, and we're even organising India's first conference on the work-life balance next month.

While it's great that I've made a success of my business, I take more pride in the fact that I've helped so many people: not only employees with work-related issues, but also people with family and relationship problems, problems that could grow until they stunt the person's personal growth for the rest of their lives.

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