Success and multitasking

Kamla Ali Aufi talks to BusinessToday about success, time management and the importance of not buckling under pressure

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Kamla Ali Aufi has become a byword for multitasking. From a homemaker to managing the nitty-gritties of her rapidly growing marble factory, she has come a long way.

Recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year 2009 Award, given out at the recently held Women in Business Conference to honour and recognise a young businesswoman who has demonstrated the vision, entrepreneurial flair, courage, drive and business acumen to develop a business from scratch and turn it into a success, Kamla believes that a successful woman is the one who can strike an effective balance between home and work.

For Kamla, reaching the heights she has scaled today has been no easy task. It has taken me lots of hard work, determination and grit to get here. And I'm proud of who I am today." What she set up as a modest marble factory in 2000 has grown to become a flourishing marble import business with an annual turnover that is "too huge to quantify" and an average of five new clients a day being added to the already impressive clientele.

"It all began when I was building a house of my own," Kamla says. She wanted to use marble but found that there was very little imported and customised marble available in Oman. "So I suggested to my husband that maybe I should start a marble import business. He gave me all the encouragement to go ahead with the idea.
I decided not to approach any bank for a loan and began the endeavour with my own money."

Her factory, World of Natural Stones, imports marble from countries like India, Turkey, China and Dubai, cuts and polishes them and then sells them.

I started with three people and two machines, but now it has grown to a total of 18 people and many more machines,"Kamla says. In order to better understand her profession, she even took a course in architecture and interior designing and continues to update her knowledge on the marble industry.

She admits it was not all smooth sailing. Apart from finding skilled manpower for the job, there was no one to take care of marketing and public relations for the company.

Also, she came from a family where the women did not go out to work. It was tough convincing friends and relatives that she was serious. "It was a little difficult for people to accept a woman entrepreneur but I did not pay them much attention and continued with my efforts. Now everyone respects and admires me for my success."

According to her, a woman needs to master the art of time management, as that is the only way she can give equal attention to personal and official matters. The support of family also matters a lot." In my case, my husband and kids are extremely supportive and encouraging. So I am able to focus on my work."

What is her advice to women who wish to break free from the confines of their home and start something of their own? "It would be to cultivate a lot of inner strength and perseverance," she says. "It is also important for women to work really hard, trust themselves, have a lot of confidence and not be deterred by criticism. Never give up when you fail. The key is to believe you will succeed and keep going, no matter what the adversity."

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award is not the only feather in her cap. As if in recognition of her grit and spirit, Muriya Tourism Development Company has just awarded the contract of supplying marble for flooring and kitchens for its villa project to World of Natural Stones. "It is a great achievement and I am very happy," says a proud Kamla."

Success and multitasking
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