Life began for me on Monday, 7th March 1966. I was the first born child to my Fijian Indian parents, Kamla and Jerry. Mum was a midwife, while my Dad had worked his way up to being a partner in the Fiji office of accounting firm Coopers Lybrand (now PWC).
We lived in Suva, the capital of Fiji, I went to the local Catholic School until I was 13, and then moved up to Natabua senior school in Lautoka.
I remember in Primary school having a mad crush on a boy in my class called Joseph. He never knew, but I was convinced that we were destined to be together for the rest of our lives.
I took my first trip overseas at about the age of 11 when the family went to Hong Kong, Philippines and Singapore – and what an eye opener that was for a simple 11 year old Fijian Indian girl. I can still remember the assault on my senses of the sheer pace of life, the height of the buildings, the amazing mix of people, the entirely new culture and of course the smell and taste of a completely different style of food.
I moved to Melbourne in 1982 aged 16, where I attended boarding school for two years at Tintern College in Ringwood.
However, at the age of 19 I met Jon, who was destined to become my husband. After 6 months we tied the knot, via three weddings – a legal one in Melbourne, an Indian one in Fiji (where 2000 people turned up to see a local girl marry the white boy), and then an Anglican one in Melbourne. My 23 years of marriage blessed me with the gift of my two adorable children – who are still the epicentre of my life and of my world.
My first “real” job was as a receptionist in a small real estate office – that’s where the seeds of enthusiasm for the world of real estate that would guide my professional career first got sowed.
Now fast forward through two decades of frenzied, hectic, high flying training, selling, listing, managing, marketing – everything to do with the world of Real Estate. I was absolutely hooked on the energy and excitement and privilege of helping someone buy (or sell) their home.
Truthfully I could think of nothing I’d sooner be doing professionally. So much so, that I started to receive invitation to share my enthusiasm with others in our industry, speaking at trade conferences and seminars all over Australia, New Zealand and even places like Fiji, Bali and SIngapore became a way of life.
At this point I have to “fess up” (as we say in Oz).
I’ve never been a “shy violet”. Since I can remember I’ve always felt it very natural and very honest to speak my mind and make my case. That “style” of communication doesn’t always go down well though, and a few times I’ve had run-ins with people I worked with (or for) as they tried to “tame” my natural style – to no avail. I’m very much a “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get) girl. But there’s one thing for sure, no one around me ever has any doubt what I think or feel about something. “Ambiguous” or “Unclear” aren’t words that made it to the Sadhana Smiles dictionary of clarity!
For the past three years, I’ve had the joy and thrill of being CEO of Harcourts Victoria. Harcourts is a very well respected, well known and admired world-wide brand. I also headed up the NSW operation for Harcourts prior to moving back home to Victoria. I felt since the day I arrived at Harcourts that there was a perfect fit between my skills and experience and the exciting challenges that leading Harcourts Victoria presented.
So far, it’s been the most rewarding position I’ve ever held. I lead a truly great and talented team of people who, like me, want to make a difference to our industry. We engage with each other, openly, honestly and enthusiastically – just the way I believe humans should interact.
They’ve also being incredibly supportive of me entering (and of course winning) The 2013 Telstra Victoria Business Woman of the Year competition.
I believe that the role of CEO of a high profile real estate firm like Harcourts and being awarded the title of 2013 Telstra Victoria Business Woman of the Year are hugely symbiotic.
Both give me an enormously respected platform.
Both give me an enhanced voice.
Both give me a valuable and rare window of time to share my beliefs and hopefully provide encouragement and passion for many others who are on a similar journey to me.
And I hope to be able to use that platform, that voice and that window to promote the things I hold dear to me and the guiding principles that have seen me win through – against the odds.