Roopa George is an entrepreneur, social worker, environmentalist, dancer and an ambitious woman. She has accomplished so much and continues to aim for greater heights. Roopa believes in seizing the opportunity as we find it for we all have just one life. She is inspirational to all the women out there who wish to embark on their journey to fulfill their dreams and passion. With Women’s Day just round the corner, let’s see what this businesswoman has to say!
Entrepreneur, environmentalist, social worker, dancer and much more. You have numerous titles to your name, how would you like to introduce yourself to our audience?
I would like to introduce myself as an entrepreneur with a social commitment. In this world of versatility, we have to be multifaceted at any point in time. It is important to be a good and complete individual because then you can experiment and have the best of all worlds. In my case, I am an entrepreneur, this gives me the knowledge of how difficult, challenging and risk taking it is to be in the business and at the same time dance for me is like an energizer and stress buster. I am a social worker as well; I believe the more you give the more you receive. I work mostly with children and schools, to train and motivate them. I also believe that ‘no nature means no future’, so it is our duty to protect nature. I would be best defined as an entrepreneur with a social commitment.
Tell us about ‘The Asian Kitchen by Tokyo Bay’ and your role in establishing it.
We started Tokyo Bay 8 years back at Hotel Presidency North, the first hospitality venture of Baby Marine International. When we began it was exclusively Japanese cuisine. The Pan Asian concept was later introduced to cater to people’s varied interest for different cuisines. We offer cuisines from 7 different countries; Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Singapore, Japanese and Chinese, and along with that we give the best seafood. Being a woman and having good knowledge in kitchen, I had a say when it came to The Asian Kitchen. I took an active lead in its marketing and social media branding.
You are a well-known social worker and environmentalist. How important is giving back to the society for you?
For the past five years I have covered more than 200 schools with my campaign called ‘Bin It India’. It is to save our environment and plant more trees. I have distributed cleanliness posters with catchy lines for the children. My second campaign is ‘Kindness Diary’ a concept of how students should do kind acts and observe the good in others. I think tremendous changes in society can be brought through children and that is why I associate myself with schools. I do not own an NGO or an organization; I try to provide for the society through my contacts and also associate with institutions like Rotary and Round Table who wish to help the society.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance being a women entrepreneur and how do you manage it?
Everybody has 24 hours in their day; it is up to us to prioritize. Once you find something you really want to do, you will find the time for it no matter what obstacles come your way. I give importance to my family, I have 2 sons, my elder one will be appearing for the 12th grade exams this year while the younger one is in the 8th grade. My first priority is my family; I believe it is our duty as a mother, to mould and influence our children. Because only from a happy family comes strong, confident, daring and loving individuals who will be of use to the society. So it is our primary duty to have a balanced and happy family, so that the children can in turn transfer this happiness to others.
How crucial is it for the women of Kerala to venture into the Business World or follow their passion and not be tied to predefined roles?
There is only one life, it is always a given chance and opportunity to follow your passion. The predefined roles of being confined to the kitchen have changed because a lot of women have broken this barrier. But it depends on your urge, interests and above all the amount of hard work you are willing to put in. It is definitely challenging and there are a lot of risks to be faced, especially in a male dominated society. But then no matter the challenge you must always focus on your goals, only then you can overcome those barriers and grab the opportunities. All women should follow their passion,venture out and explore. And most importantly I believe without financial independence women empowerment is impossible.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule on a normal day.
I wake up at around 5 am and go to church. I exercise in the morning after which I read the newspaper. Afterwards I cook something and then head to the restaurant. If I have some school commitments I do that also, it is a one man army and I take the classes for most sessions. After my business commitments, I have my bharatanatyam classes in the evening after which I spend some time with my family, my husband and children. I also practice the Veena when I get the time.
Favourite Author: Shiv Khera
Women Role Model: My Mother, Geetha Abraham
Your Happiness Quotient: The Art of Living is the Art of Giving
Your Strength: Open and Receptive Mind
Favourite Place: My Home
What are your dreams for the Future? What do aim to achieve in the next 5 years?
I would like to expand Asian Kitchen to other places, we are working and discussing on that. As a social worker, I wish to work more with my students. Studies are exam oriented; I strongly believe that it should be more value centered. I want to help create a generation by teaching students good values and morals. They should be taught to be good hearted, compassionate and kind individuals. The education system should not be restricted to the syllabus. My goal is to train children to be more value oriented, to teach them the importance of helping others and also impart some life skills.
Women’s Day is right around the corner, what advice would you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?
There are risks and challenges; there is no easy way out. Women have an instinct to complain, criticize and condemn, we shouldn’t give up easily.
Advice to entrepreneurs is to identify the opportunity and build a team. Open your eyes open your ears and open your heart, only then you can see the opportunity.
Identify your passion and work on it, and you must also have good team, which is very crucial as being a woman you might have to delegate work.