A Model Leader and Businesswoman

When I am in Delhi working on design Harpreet and I share every lunch together, we enjoy bringing a mix of Indian and Western dishes to the office while we talk, analyze, laugh and relax.

Harpreet Sindhu is the director of Cornell Overseas in Delhi, India. We have enjoyed a long and trusting friendship and an intensely committed working relationship that speaks to our combined talents, and shared philosophies.

     Delhi is like a second home to me. I spent my entire business life training in India on how to do business. When people talk about working abroad, I often think that it is working at home that is more confounding.

     Harpreet is from a family of five girls, a very close and loving gaggle of women.  She knows intuitively how to bond and communicate with others. She was born in a small town, Dehra Dun, in northern India. Her family moved to New Delhi when she was a small girl so the large bustling city is her lifelong home.

      Harpreet studied history at Delhi University, but it was a course in fashion technology that set her on her career path. She learned about pattern making, color applications, draping and design and fashion history. I met her in the mid 1980s when she was working for a vendor we were doing business with. We hit it off immediately. Little did either of us know that our future was going to be bonded so tightly together. She has been with Cornell Overseas for over 19 years, which in our modern business culture is impressive.  During those years, Harpreet has grown the operation in Delhi from three employees, working out of our office cum apartment to as many as 700 people and four factories. What inspires me most about Harpreet is not just the success she had in building a company in good times, it is her grit and loyalty and belief in success and solutions – her extraordinary ability to problem solve in the challenges of a very organic and very demanding business, a business that has challenged both of us in recent years. She has a bit of Winston Churchill in her –“ never, never, never give up.”

     Harpreet is compassionate as well as demanding, able to confront difficult situations but also able to listen and nurture her team. Today’s team of over 250 people is constantly responding to the needs of the day: new design and production challenges, as well as working with outside vendors – negotiating and compromising, standing firm and giving way. Harpreet doesn't waste energy lamenting over problems, she seeks solutions. She has to be multifaceted, and does it with grace.

   Harpreet balances all her life roles well. She is fashionable and stylish and loves dressing in both beautiful traditional Indian clothes and wears Western styles with equal flair. And dear to my heart, she loves to shop! She is a mother, wife, sister, daughter-in-law – all with love and finesse.

     Harpreet is a natural leader, and moves seamlessly from home to work, from being a successful businesswoman, to concerning herself about those that have less than she does. Last week when we received a large order from a client, Harpreet decided to celebrate with a food giveaway to the less fortunate, outside of our offices. That is what a leader does – lead, with heart and with head. 

Cornell Overseas, as well as making the April Cornell product, also manufactures for others- Danica/ Now Designs, Coldwater Creek, the wonderful J.Peterman Company, the Island Shop of Bermuda, Nice Things of Spain, Sphera of Spain, among others. Harpreet oversees the procurement, development, and production of all of these orders.

      She is always aware that her hard work, which has led to professional accomplishment, brings with it a responsibility to care for others. She makes giving a part of our corporate culture in Delhi. And for that I hold her in the highest esteem.

     Every April Cornell product has a part of Harpreet in it, and that is one of the beautiful threads that makes our products so rich.


Feel Beautiful, Be Beautiful, Live Beautiful

1 comment:

Jody said...

This is a beautiful and compelling article I will print out and circulate to friends. It speaks to us as a wonderful model to understand and emulate. Even though I graduated from college many years ago, both of you exemplify a business model I think many more should embrace. Thank you for a lovely article.

-- Jody
PS -- Now I really, REALLY want to travel to India!

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