Sunitha Merlin John (Peeshu), the former Human resource manager, has built a market in Technical Surveying & Loss Adjusting in UAE. Holding the status of a woman entrepreneur in Dubai, Sunitha has successfully bridged the gap between her triumphant business empire and food blogging. However, her work today has gone beyond amazing- from getting shortlisted in Google year in search 2020 to getting featured in Khaleej Times.
The CTS & loss adjustor founder continues to woo her Instagram followers with drool-worthy videos and food recommendations.
From sexual harassment to sexism and misogyny, Sunitha spills the bean about her personal and career life in this interview.
Can you tell us a bit more about your company?
I help run the family business, which is a Technical Surveying & Loss Adjusting firm. We basically deal with surveying motor and non-motor accidents and also undertake property evaluations, risk assessments etc. It’s basically an element of the insurance industry per se.
What is your day like?
My day at times can be hectic or sometimes relaxed. I begin my day with an essential, which is drinking a bottle of infused water, that re-energizes me totally. And it’s time to wake my son up and get him ready for school and breakfast, lunch preps. I do have an amazing nanny maid who helps me so much; without her, I would be a confused soul. I am forever grateful for her. I do the major part of the cooking. She helps in preps and takes care of my little one while I am at work. I do find time to do some workout. I would say even if it means few minutes, I try to squeeze time to work out.
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I also find time to go out and hunt for dishes/restaurants to fulfil my daily blogging. And definitely, not a day goes by where I don’t watch a movie or a series. And finally, I hit the sack by browsing on social media, catching up with my friends and family.
What made you start food blogging?
Initially, I started blogging on Instagram, just for my close friends and family, and then eventually, it grew to be from just cooking to eating out, travelling around the globe, and I would post just about everything. And suddenly, strangers started following my page and commenting on my cooking skills and photography and then it took flight from there. My family and spouse were supportive of this, and so I was determined to continue.
How do you balance your career, family and food blogging?
I am not much of a timekeeper nor a balanced person.
Everything I do, I mostly do it with a prick of spontaneity. I don’t have a specific mantra to being balanced, I am flawed, and life teaches me daily. I simply go with the flow.
If any, what challenges have you experienced as a woman in business during your overall career?
Misogyny at work was quite a big topic back in the late 90s and early 2000. But it has changed so much now. Women and men have progressed and are more educated and justified rightly.
I started my career in media, and it was havoc. I used to work back in India, and the media field was scary for me personally. Initially, we had to endure sleepless nights, and only a handful of the men crowd was nice to us women lot back then. They saw freshers as mere beings with no experience and our bosses would just be so rude, but I had even endured partiality from women bosses too, I guess it was all a phase.
And then further ahead, as I climbed up the ladder and was progressing into being an HR Manager, I had to face so many gender discrimination when it came to strategy and decision making at a higher level. But I did not give up, I made sure I voiced my opinions, and I was a fighter. All I would think was how much my parents spend on my education, and I have to give it back to them by making them proud and achieving goals in my life.
And I did it.
Some challenges I faced, which I would pen out are the following:
- Gender discrimination
- Hierarchy issues
- When I had to take time out from work when I got my monthly menstrual cycle
- Gender pay gap – I was paid lesser as when compared to my male associates
- Promotions were slowed down – but I fought for myself and never gave up
What leadership traits and characteristics or, indeed, strengths and weaknesses do you feel are required or hinder you in your pursuit of excellence in your field of expertise?
I have always loved taking control of situations, being a leader in the many areas of my life, from school days to college to the workplace to social platforms.
I started my early days as a Prefect to School Captain to College Council Representatives to being a manager at work. I will never give up being in control of my life, especially when it comes to working. I am strong headed at my workplace, but when it comes to my personal life, I am a feather, sensitive at one touch, and break down so much.
I am definitely more or so like a crab, which is indeed a Cancerian’s definitive. Hard on the outside and soft on the inside. I can make emotional decisions in my personal life, but as a working woman, I am strong.
Have you ever faced sexism and misogyny in your career? If so, how did you tackle it?
Yes, I have, but somehow, I always fought back and sometimes camouflaged into being one among them. But there was always that 1% of men lot that showed respect back and the support we need at the workplace and I am ever grateful to them. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived, I guess as much as I could stand up for myself and make my voice have been heard, that 1% was the one that uplifted me.
I am a victim of child sexual abuse, and I am not ashamed to say it aloud. Not many men nor some women will understand how I felt disgusted about life as a whole. I grew up having a revengeful heart towards the opposite sex, yet I had some emotional wellness within me that made me human.
As life moved on, I polished myself to be a good human within and got to remove any vengeance I had within. I love myself, and why should I destroy my life, living in hatred. I believe in self-love.
What is your vision or hope for women in business?
Every girl should have a vision as they grow up; it is up to her parents, siblings, teachers, friends etc., to inculcate this thought into a lady as she grows.
Life isn’t all about getting married and settling down with children, but there is more to it. You need to survive; you need to make it your own battle to succeed in any field in life. No one has to be submissive to anyone.
You are your own master and slave, be it at work or school or anywhere. No girl, no women should be treated with disrespect. After all, aren’t we the womb goddesses?
Every child has to be treated with respect and be given the opportunity to succeed at school, college, workplace, or even their homes.
Women work fold should empower each other so that, at workplaces, they are confident about themselves and can sustain peacefully and happily at par with the opposite gender.
What one piece of advice would you give any aspiring female business leaders reading this?
Draw your plan or dream; never give up dreaming or planning. Everything you do should be for yourself and your wellbeing; the rest will follow. Mint your own money!
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What book/podcasts/videos do you follow for staying motivated in this entrepreneurial journey?
I love listening to Jay Shetty, Oprah, many stand-up comedies, Tony Ribbons, BBC, Hasan Minhaj. I read books, and I love books, but I don’t read many motivational books or podcasts. Videos are the in thing for me when it comes to motivational seeding.