At Shahi, we believe in the power and potential of the 100,000 people who make up our workforce. And we wanted the world to get to know them better. In 2017 we commissioned Behind the Seams, a project to tell their unique stories.

Garment workers together form a truly diverse and talented industry. The majority of our employees are female; in fact we are the largest private employer of women in India. In a country where female participation in the workforce has dropped from 35% to 27% since 1990, we’re especially proud of our strong female talent base who have, in some instances, overcome huge challenges to take up formal employment with us and become economically independent.

Sudha

Quality Control Incharge, Unit 12

Chasing dreams everyday

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Woman

Her Story

Sudha speaks in measured sentences, her carefully considered choice of words leaving no ambiguity about what she wants to convey. Her confident and assertive presence leaves you with no doubt that she sparkles in the powerful mythological roles which she loves to essay onstage during the Shahi cultural performances. These roles are normally taken up by men and they require an over-the-top, commanding figure to be truly convincing. However, this isn't to say that Sudha is an authoritarian figure. To the contrary, she expresses a deep concern and understanding of the world around her. Indeed, it is this quality of empathy that she relates to most about Shahi. "It is not only about work over here, I've worked here for 10 years and I can say that no other company treats and understands people as well as Shahi.” Her time here has also fostered in her a deep interest in unearthing new information that could benefit her and those around her. "I like reading anything that is informative. For example, how even simple changes in my diet, like eating ragi (finger millet), can be beneficial for me. I try to adopt these practices and inculcate them in my children too."

Sudha joined Shahi in 2007 in the Quality Control department and has quickly risen up the ranks to become a manager. Her favourite part of the job is sampling, one that requires a good deal of a creativity and reaching out to a lot of people. This is quite a natural proclivity for Sudha, she’s savvy about the latest trends and has a natural connection to people. She truly found her stride after the PACE program, which instilled in her the confidence and ability to reach out for the long-cherished goals she wanted to attain. "I became more confident, I was able to assert and articulate myself better. Most importantly, I realised the value of planning something out and thinking of the logical steps a person has to take to reach their goals."

As they say, the proof lies in the pudding. Not only did Sudha get a promotion and become more effective at her work, she also made giants leaps in her personal life. As a single mother, Sudha encourages both her children to chase their own dreams and supports them the entire way. Her elder daughter is in college marking out a career in costume design, and her teenage son is due to attend a martial arts championship hosted in Japan. Her seemingly boundless determination has also seen her family move out of a rented apartment to a home of their own. To supplement her income, Sudha has also set up a sewing machine at home where she stitches her own dresses.

I've worked here for 10 years
and I can say that no other company
treats and understands people as well as Shahi.
Woman

“I feel that ultimately my fate is in my hands and that’s why I feel motivated to make things better for me and the people around me.” In light of this, her achievements seem only natural. I ask her about current goals: “Right now, it’s just to make sure my son does well in his martial arts competition”, she smiles. “One at a time, you must see out your current goals first.” It’s easy to think of our society as one that is male dominated and deeply patriarchal, indeed the evidence is all around us in our daily lives. However, this isn’t the entire story. Self-determined women like Sudha, who’ve been relentless in their quest to chalk out a place for themselves, fill us with hope that a change is bound to come.