Esteemed Educational Entrepreneur
‘They buried us; they didn’t know we were seeds’ – This beautiful Mexican proverb is the belief Ssarita Siingh lives by. Managing Trustee of Priyadarshini Group of Schools, Pune, Ssarita is an Entrepreneur, Leader, Media Expert, Educationalist and Mother. From running Indian operations of Macmillan Publications to Consultant to the top Media companies she has led her life with determination and strength.
Ssarita has been bestowed with many awards like Woman Icon in Education Sector, National Award for Women Leadership, 100 most Inspirational Leaders of India, NewsX India’s A-Listers, Lokmat Woman Icon and many more. She has been featured in prestigious magazines like Forbes and other news media for being a woman leader and for her success story. Trained in Behavioral Psychology, she is an Environmentalist and helps build innovative and functional teaching strategies to improve Student Engagement.
Speaking about her journey, Ssarita says, “I belong to a conservative Rajput family. Professionally working was off-limits to us but I refused to bow down to the gender bias. Shri Indraman Sahadeo Singh, my father and the erstwhile Chairman of Priyadarshani Group of Schools, was a principled man and had taught us that everyone should fight their own battles. I was not encouraged to make my mark as part of an already established family but to prove my mettle with something on my own. That stuck with me. I started working at 16 and being able to get out of the house to work was the boost I needed.”
At 21, Ssarita started working with Macmillan Publishers. But that did not come about easy. “When I was 21, my family decided that I should be married. I, however, wanted to work and be something. My father had always taught me to rely on my own to grow in life. With just 2000 rupees and a suitcase of clothes, I left home and came to Mumbai. I took a sharing cab to Dadar and sat at the bus stop the whole night, not knowing where to or what next. I was scared but motivated that I wanted to do something. I took refuge in a friend’s home until a month later when I received an offer from Macmillan. But that night taught me how to hold myself in the most adverse situations. After that, no matter what, I held on to the belief that I Can,” reveals Ssarita.
Joining Macmillan was a game-changer for her. “Once I started working, I realized that gender bias and clichés weren’t limited to my home. Many of my colleagues would believe that working women used charms instead of hard work to grow. There were times when I was the only woman in the team and I was undermined for being one, but I never let that pull me down,” shares Ssarita.
Revealing that she never had reason to regret any decisions that she took, Ssarita adds, “Growing up, I was denied my freedom and when I started working, the financial independence and confidence I got never let me regret my decisions. Eventually, my family respected my decisions, reconciled, and my father was proud of me too.”
At present, Ssarita’s kids are her biggest source of energy, while her father was her biggest source of courage. “My father and his principles have always driven me. When I lost him, I was devastated. He had left a huge legacy for us siblings and that’s exactly what I want to do for my kids. It is that desire which drives me today,” she says.
Balancing home and work has always been a challenge for working women the world over. How does Ssarita deal with it? “Being a single mother, I am responsible for everything. I am not just involved with my school but in so many things, as an Investment Consultant, Media and Education. With so much, it does become difficult, especially during the lockdown when there was no other aid. Managing the meetings, school campaigns, running errands, taking care of the kids… there is no time left for me in the process. That’s the sacrifice my work has demanded. But balance only comes with time,” she answers.
Ask her what she does in her ‘me-time’, and she’s quick to reply that she can never be away from work for too long: “I have been a workaholic for a very long time. Today, if there’s no work, I panic. On some rare Sunday mornings, after my errands, you’ll find me curled up with a book. I also love organic farming which I’d like to explore in the future.”
Other than work, what gives Ssarita a high? “Challenges. I’d always prefer to run something challenging and difficult to take off rather than running something that is already mid-flight. Challenges, professionally and personally, drive me,” she asserts like a true ‘Boss Woman’.