A graduate of Delhi University, Seema Golchha had been working in advertising, in India, before she moved to Nepal in 1991 after she got married. For a decade, Golchha was mostly occupied with family life. Only in 2002, she decided to work again and delved into floriculture.
But for the past 15 years, Golchha has been the managing director of Him Electronics—an entity of Golchha Organisation. Him Electronics produces its own homegrown brand Himstar, and is also an authorised dealer in Nepal for Samsung Electronics. She is also the President-elect of Zonta International, which works for women empowerment. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Golchha talks about her career, women in the corporate sector, and her future plans for the company. Excerpts:
How did you come to sell Samsung products?
I grew up seeing my mother as a professional woman handling office and household chores simultaneously. And I have always had the desire to do something similar, on my own too. Whenever I have travelled abroad, I often saw large electronic stores—something that we lacked here—so opening an electronics store here seemed like a good opportunity for us. And I was fortunate to have found a building that was ready for rental space in the most prime location of the city, in Durbar Marg. Within a year, in a 300 sq ft area, we set up a store with six women employees.
Your teams are predominantly run by women in all of your Samsung Plaza outlets. What made you think of making it an exclusively female workplace?
Women are often looked down upon when it comes to handling electronics. We are either associated with fashion or beauty, and I wanted to break that stereotype. This was something very new for us and challenging at the same time. But it didn’t seem as difficult as I thought it would be. In Samsung, we have very stringent international standards and we strictly abide by them. When we started Samsung Plaza, 15 years ago, most of these girls were fresh into the sector. They seemed very nervous and scared at the same time to be part of something that they weren’t familiar with. We now have over 60 women working for us. Apart from just giving them training on products, we also train them on inter and intrapersonal skills.
For me, real empowerment is economic empowerment. When a woman is the breadwinner of the family, she is empowered. I have seen our employees change over the years and I can see their confidence. That is the definition of empowerment for me, and that is why most of our outlets are run by women.
As Himstar is dealer-based and dealers have their own management system, does the same idea work for your homegrown brand?
The idea of having only female employees doesn’t work for Himstar, as we don’t have a company-owned showroom for it. However, with Samsung, because the showrooms are completely owned by Him Electronics, we have the ability to make hiring decisions. Himstar, on the other hand, is completely dealer-based so we don’t have much say on hiring. But Him Electronics office has many female employees, especially the television factory based in Thimi.
Can you tell us more about Himstar’s growth?
Samsung’s target audience is a little upmarket, whereas Himstar is for those looking for value for money. I am proud of both brands. Customers demand choices and we want to give it to them. Not everyone can buy a high-end TV, so Himstar is there to cater to the market. Thankfully both the brands have been doing well in the market, and Himstar has been picking up steadily.
With many international brands mushrooming in the market, how does Samsung manage to stay on top of its game? Also, is there any conflict of interest, with you owning Himstar as well?
There are many products and brands available in the market right now, but Samsung is a brand that speaks for itself. Whichever brand has better quality will eventually win the race, and we stick by our quality. I am confident about our products. We are also very particular about our market price. Many brands often don’t have fixed MRP, but with Samsung and Himstar, we ensure that we include MRP so that when customers buy our products from dealers, there won’t be any variation. At Him Electronics, we care a lot about our service. When you spend a huge amount of money on our products, you will need a service that comes on par with it. We would like to believe that we have a very strong after-sales service; it is our strength. And we believe that our customers have the right to ask for it.
Our association with Samsung has helped us build Himstar’s brand identity. Samsung is a giant company and we have definitely learnt a lot from being associated with it. We try to incorporate the same standards the company has, which is helpful. If you have a great role model, one has to utilise it.
#MeToo is now a global phenomenon. Keeping in mind the growing movement, has the Golchha Organisation implemented any workplace harassment policies?
In our office, we have a very strong HR department that is dominantly run by women. We have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment at the workplace. We do not accept any harassment whatsoever. If any harassment case is issued in our office, we don’t allow victim-blaming, but do an extensive investigation over the matter.
What advice do you have for women wanting to join the corporate sector?
In MBA classes, you see a lot of women, but in actual corporate settings, you hardly see them around. Where are they? For those who want to step into the corporate sector but are afraid of the challenges and risks, I say find a role model, or go to a mentor. Don’t be scared or nervous, and back down.
What are your future plans for Samsung and Himstar?
The market is growing and parallel import has been the biggest challenge. We have also tied up with City Express, where migrant workers can send in money and we send products right to their houses. Many of our plans for upcoming years are also focused on energy savings.
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