Pinky admits that as a president, one of the challenges that lies ahead is to meet the expectations of the members.
Born and married into privileged families, Pinky Reddy, recently elected as the national President of FICCI Ladies Organisation, remains refreshingly honest and down-to-earth.
Be it as the head girl of her school, or now, as the President of Ficci Ladies Organisation (FLO), Pinky Reddy seems to have inculcated leadership skills early in her life. Never one to shy away from challenges, she is also the first woman from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to become the national president of FLO.
Talking about her new role, Pinky says, “Being elected as the President of FLO is an achievement as it means that I am now representing Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in New Delhi. I have a leadership gene in me and know that I will be able to pull this off well. I was happy with the way my acceptance speech was received. In fact, it made the Hyderabad chapter of FLO so proud that 50 of them flew down to New Delhi to cheer for me. I tell them that I have just become the president of FLO and not the President of India!”
Among the many plans that are being chalked out, Pinky’s focus will be on women’s safety at the workplace and empowering women at the grassroot level. “We will be working on a whole new agenda, and chalking out a year’s plans. There are a lot of initiatives and CSR activities which we will look into,” she shares.
Pinky admits that as a president, one of the challenges that lies ahead is to meet the expectations of the members. “Each president puts in her best, and adds her own touch. I hope that I get to raise the bar even more. No doubt there is pressure, but you don’t deliver without it either. There are a lot of expectations, and I hope I match up to it,” she confesses.
Pinky recalls that she joined FLO years ago to go on a trip to Istanbul. “Around 15 years ago, when FLO started in Hyderabad, I didn’t join it as I was a homemaker and not a businesswoman or a professional. Once, a lot of my friends were going on a trip to Istanbul, which was only for Ficci members. So I became a member just to go on that trip! Over the years, my office kept renewing the membership, so I continued to be a member for a long time,” she says, adding, “During the tenth year of Hyderabad FLO, we had a very prestigious inter-state event which we had to host and the team unanimously chose me to be the chairperson. That role made me evolve and till today, people remember the work I did, so I feel very proud.”
Over the years, Pinky has carved a niche for herself. She is not known as T. Subbarami Reddy’s daughter or Sanjay Reddy’s wife, but has her own identity.
So how did she come to stand out on her own? Says Pinky, “I don’t want to brag, but that is my personality. I have always been humble and approachable, and can never turn anyone away. In fact, my husband always says that I have a lot of patience. I have even got calls in the middle of the night for help. I am always doing things for others, and that is the way I am. You have to earn your friends and your respect and that is the biggest wealth that I have.”
Further, Pinky says, “I have been a part of several social and charitable activities, but have never had a position in our family business. Perhaps that’s why I had the freedom to do a lot more. I really have had the best of both worlds — my husband would talk to me about work and take my advice, but I didn’t have to go and sit in the office. I was instead involved in a variety of things, which was a good learning for me.”
Pinky credits her upbringing for the person that she is. “We were extremely sheltered as kids. My father was always into philanthropy, while my mother was a disciplinarian. She would always tell us how to conduct ourselves. What I am is because of my mother. I was married when I was very young, so my in-laws and husband also influenced me a lot. My father-in-law is very disciplined, and my mother-in-law is an intelligent and smart businesswoman, and I have learnt a lot from them. I have picked the qualities I want from my family and left out what I didn’t like,” she shares, candidly.
One thing that surprised Pinky, however, was when she started getting invites to launch stores, and ended up being considered a ‘lucky mascot’. “People started inviting me for launch events, ribbon cutting etc., but I had no idea how I got involved in this! However, whatever I opened, did well. It’s sad that they did all the hard work and I got all the credit,” she says with a smile.
So what’s in store after FLO? “I don’t know. I never plan my future. The presidency at FLO was unexpected. I was told that I need to go and connect with people, and that a little bit of lobbying needs to be done. When I was in the governing body, I wouldn’t stay for more than a minute than I was needed. But somehow, I was destined to be in this position and nobody can change that,” says Pinky, who remains unaffected even though she comes from a privileged background.
“I don’t even consider myself to be somebody great. I go to KBR Park in Hyderabad for my walk in an i20. I don’t care, and frankly, that’s the right attitude. My father is very well-known since we were kids. I was known as Subbarami Reddy’s daughter in school, but it never went to our head. That’s just the way my family is — they are all in good positions but at the same time, are extremely humble,” she says, adding, “The same is the case with my husband. So many people come and ask me — who does all your packing? I say ‘me’. Who is your stylist? I say ‘me’. Who does all your cleaning? I say ‘me’. My children are also extremely humble,” shares Pinky.
Of the few businesses that she runs, Pinky ensures that a part of it is donated to charity. “Nothing to do with the family, but I started a brand called Lotus House eight years ago, through which we promote art and craft. We have stores in quite a few airports. We go to artisans, get products, and sell at the airports. 50 per cent of what I earn goes to charity, so we are doing charity plus business. We have another brand called Poprazzi at the airport which houses pop art. Just two years back, I started another brand called Local which has a variety of packaged foods from different parts of the country,” she says.
Shares Pinky, “My father would always say that girls don’t need to go to work, they need to enjoy life. After I got married, my husband said the same thing to me. That’s how I got into philanthropy and ribbon-cutting. While I was working with Sanjay on T2 in Mumbai, he asked me to head the team for the art programme with Rajiv Sethi and all the architects. And while I was travelling with them, I got an idea to help dying crafts.”
Pinky adds, “I also started my own foundation called Aparna Foundation, through which we educate a lot of children. I have adopted a lot of artisans, and we send them money for their livelihood. We give them a design to work on, and then we buy it from them.”
But at the end of the day, Pinky admits that she sees herself as a homemaker first. “For 20 years of my life, I have only been a homemaker. So I can’t imagine being a businesswoman, and keep forgetting that! And even though it is my husband’s airport, I pay him the rent. So it’s very professional,” she concludes.