Preeti Bajaj, who was selected Young Executive of the Year, admits it was a long hard road, but says it was worth every step
PREETI Bajaj’s business-minded approach has seen her become a BOSS Young Executive of the Year for 2011. But it has taken her more than a decade to find her feet after moving from Delhi in India to Melbourne, which she admits was a tough experience.
None of her credentials in India – a Diploma of hotel management and Bachelor of Arts (economics and political science) – made any difference for when she was applying for jobs and had to learn the hard way to climb the corporate ladder. The 35-year-old was 21 at the time and having worked under her father as a six year old delivering Christmas-like bonuses for his workers, she knew that any bonus for her would have to be much rewarded.
“At the time, it was 28 rupees to a dollar when I arrived. I had no idea of Melbourne. I had no idea of anyone here,” Preeti says. She admits to having limited funds and remembers trying desperately to get a part-time job. “The rejections list was long. It was tough but I just kept going because for me, going back was not an option,” she says.
After some part-time jobs, her big break came as a managing director and shareholder of property management software group Vision Software. She is now at Brookfield Multiplex Services, one of Vision’s clients, and in charge of her own team in business development. She leads a team providing facilities management, mainly for government departments.
Bajaj believes that it has not only been persistence that has got her this far but the ability to dare to dream. “Persistence alone doesn’t do it. You’ve got to have the belief. You’ve got to have the belief that you’re going to pull through somehow. When you have good people around you, it helps too. I had amazing friends around me too and a number of them were just brilliant and they were Australians,” she says.
“All of them played a part. I actually made great friends as I went along. It has been my ambition from a very young age to eventually be CEO so I’ll see what happens,” she adds.
Preeti says strong family values also played a part as well as encouragement from mentors around her. “From my family when I was brought up, I was always told that you can achieve whatever you want to achieve. We were certainly told to focus,” she says, and adds that she had a lot of support from her business mentors and current management.
While, her career aspirations have taken up most of her time, Preeti believes she has balanced it well with her partner, who is 10 years older than her. She says that she doesn’t have any sacrifices by putting her career first – and her partner has greatly been supportive of that – in her drive to be a CEO.
“My lovely partner used to be my boss 10 years ago,” she says. “He was fantastic. He was the management director and I was one of the financial accountants. I resigned obviously because we landed in a relationship and I moved on. He’s been wonderful support. He’s had a lot of patience with my ambitions,” says Preeti.
“I’m lucky because he’s 10 years older than me. When I got this promotion, he was getting at a point that he’s been doing this for 20 or 30 years, I’m going to take a break and see what if I want to do in life. I’m supportive of him and he’s supportive of my career. You have to balance it and I would have to say that we’ve done a great job of it,” she adds.
By Brent Diamond