When she believed she could, she was already halfway there. Over eight years ago, Ujjwala Satish Haware had a different story to narrate. Born and brought up in Amravati near Nagpur, she decided to be an architect early as when she was in the seventh grade. And in 1997, she secured her Bachelors of Architecture degree from Amravati University. After marriage, she joined her husband Satish Haware’s company in Mumbai, Haware Engineers & Builders, as a director. However, in 2005, she lost her husband. “I knew what he dreamt for this company and to see all of it just vanish with him was not acceptable,” she says. So she stepped forward and took over the reins of the company as chairperson. Today, the company is thriving under her leadership. Moreover, Haware is an executive committee member of the Builders’ Association of Navi Mumbai and member, MCHI, Mumbai. Unassuming and candid, she shares her experiences and perspective in conversation with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
What were the challenges you faced when you took over as chairperson?
The thought of taking the company forward without my husband was a task in itself. Then, some JV partners showed their true colours; they went to the extent of filing criminal cases. But my staff always supported me, I took good legal advice and everything got settled. Also, the staff had lost all focus without my husband. I decided to go back for them and all our customers who had booked houses and were relying on us.
Did you face a gender bias?
Yes. But then women are always soft targets.
Did you have a mentor or support system?
My only support system has been my family. They held me strong in bad times. I also had the support of many staff members. And many of my husband’s friends - with a strong political background - stood by us.
What are your current responsibilities?
I look at overall operations. Apart from the design aspects, where my core interests lie, I look into accounts, loans, customer service, material purchase, brand building, etc. And as I also visit sites, I control a bit of the engineering part as well.