Deepa Soman is Founder, CEO of Lumière Business Solutions Private Limited, a marketing research and business solutions firm. Lumière offers work opportunity to women professionals from diverse industry sector backgrounds. 50% of the core team works from their home office using the full-flexi work option. The company hires women for their competencies and trains for skills in research and consulting. Lumière is a unique business model with distinct people practices, a strong enabling technology environment, and work processes for women to get a work opportunity and “stay on the ramp”.
A passionate ‘people collector and connector’, Deepa loves to read, write, and enjoy nature. She plays golf with her family, and works hard at growing Lumière to take it to the next level of scale and influence. She tells us about the Lumiere work model and her life-
Tell us more about yourself and what you do.
At work, I am a marketing research professional and consultant who has been working for myself for nearly 18 years. I like to read, write, workout, and teach and inspire young people.
In my other roles, I have been married for 25 years, and have two children, a son (22) and a daughter (18). I work long hours, but balance them because of an excellent home staff to look after our home and the elders dependent on me.
What motivated you to start Lumière?
It was my own intense need to work while bringing up a baby. I went away on a career break overseas, but figured out soon enough that I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. It gave me the insight that there are women who want to do both - be intellectually stimulated and perform their life roles well. Remember, this was the time when flexi-work wasn't mainstream and companies had not started embracing diversity and inclusion in a big way.
Lumière is known to have a workflex model for its employees, does this model work well for a consulting company like yours? How?
The Lumière model and way of working has inspired many corporates and individuals. It has unlocked the potential in the hundreds of women who have walked through our portals. Women have gone away feeling enriched professionally and personally. Lumière has always believed in continuous training and deeply invested in knowledge. It is a stimulating workplace with lots of opportunity to learn and grow. The model is always getting pushed to the limits and challenged all the time in terms of viability. It is unique and admirable, and serves a powerful social and human cause. It is not a non-profit but an entrepreneurial model. It calls for people to be dependable, responsible. It is operationally demanding. It means we have to recruit smart, invest highly in technology and infrastructure, and keep a bench to make sure no ball is dropped. It is a challenge to work with people in the virtual mode. We keep trying new things and do not have a 'not invented here' syndrome. We make mistakes and hopefully learn from them and make new mistakes.
The model itself is being continually evolved keeping in mind lifestyle as well as socio-economic changes. There is a lot of continuous need for training, retraining and ensuring that the Lumière culture and values are kept alive. These are a non-negotiable. But it is strenuous and exhausting. We think of our impact not merely in the women who work with us, but more importantly, the corporates who have gotten inspired by our ways of working. We practice role share and task share. It is a very innovative and different way of working. Calls for a lot of team work, project management and smart deployment of resources and technology. We believe we serve our cohort well. In these challenging times, clients are becoming even more demanding on time and value. It is a constant struggle to attract and retain quality talent, get them ready and remain viable. The gestation period is long. Lumière is a cult and demands a two way flexibility and a very high level of discipline and maturity from the incumbent. We excel at enabling and supporting, but not very good at challenging. This has also meant lower productivity levels. It is a chicken and egg situation. Occasionally we find that there is an imbalance in that we give way more than what we get in return. We need to enforce a better balance in order to achieve a larger goal. We need a mix of people who can work long hours and in challenging situations with people who have constraints and limited availability.
Message to all SHEROES out there.
Be self-aware and connected with oneself.Discover what makes you happy, so that your work becomes 'play'. One should try to 're-frame' every situation to believe that the event happened for your learning and growth.
Value your time and your energy and guard it from getting dissipated.Take charge of your life and don't blame anything or anyone.