Shattering Boundaries: Unveiling the Extraordinary Journey of Dipali Sikand, Founder of Les Concierges Group
These remarkable stories have long been unheard of! Today, women entrepreneurs in India are breaking through the barriers of the corporate world, venturing off the beaten path, and exploring new avenues of economic participation.
Women are choosing to run organised enterprises driven by their skills, knowledge, talents, abilities, creativity, and a strong desire to make a positive impact. Women entrepreneurs play a significant role in the global pursuit of sustainable economic development and social progress.
It has taken time for Indian women to move beyond traditional roles and make their mark in various sectors of the corporate world. Women entrepreneurs are now a force to be reckoned with, driven not only by survival but also by their inner drive for creativity and the desire to showcase their capabilities.
Today, women are excelling as designers, interior decorators, exporters, publishers, and garment manufacturers and are constantly exploring new opportunities for economic engagement.
Among these exceptional women is Dipali Sikand, an approachable leader who celebrates her identity as a woman. With clarity, passion, and confidence, she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey by founding Les Concierges and Club Concierge.
Dipali Sikand, the awe-inspiring founder of The Concierge Group, one of India’s leading concierge service providers, recently engaged in a candid and exclusive interview with The Business Women’s correspondent.
During the interview, she delved into her unique entrepreneurial legacy and succession plans and shared previously undisclosed aspects of her personal life.
Every successful woman entrepreneur is driven by a strong determination to achieve her goals and ensure the prosperity of her organisation. Can you share your perspective on your entrepreneurial dream as a businesswoman? How do you cultivate a culture of change within your company?
Dipali- My dream has always been to establish a new profession with unique attributes that result from innovation. While steady professions like doctors, lawyers, engineers, and accountants are well-known in terms of inputs and outputs, my dream was to carve out a new profession: Concierge.
I wanted to build an industry around it and gain professional acceptance of the role of a Concierge in mainstream business. I am thrilled to witness this dream flourishing and growing. My work involves creating disruptive, innovative, and creatively engaging programs and experiences for forward-thinking clients.
From planning and strategising to implementing and optimising effective measures for my client’s marketing investments, my role requires me to foster a collaborative environment within my team to deliver the best outcomes.
What inspired you to start a new business venture or bring significant changes to an existing business or workplace?
Dipali- Opportunities have always been my inspiration. I am driven to create unique services, enhance convenience, bring delight, and help people engage better with their stakeholders. I seek opportunities where measurable results are reflected in happiness and the establishment of fruitful relationships. These opportunities motivate me to initiate new niche solutions within the scope of our work.
How do you define success, and who do you attribute your success to? What is your perspective on achieving long-term success? Who has been your greatest source of inspiration?
Dipali- To me, true success means being able to live life on your own terms. I attribute my success to time, team, family, friends, and faith. Each person’s definition of success may vary, but I find inspiration in the present moment.
I live with intention, pushing myself to the edge, listening attentively, embracing playfulness, laughing, making choices without regret, appreciating my friends, continuously learning, doing what I love, and living as if this is all there is.
What sets the Concierge Group apart and has contributed to its tremendous success in a country with a population of over a billion? What business problems has it successfully addressed?
Dipali- In today’s hyperlinked and hyper-aggressive environment, applying outdated models is no longer feasible. The days of using production assembly line techniques to build customer experiences are long gone.
Companies can no longer dictate what customers will experience with their product or service through advertising alone. Using a standardised customer service program poses inherent risks. In the past, companies focused on what worked for them and became self-centred instead of customer-focused.
CRM systems were designed to identify profitable and non-profitable customers, influencing resource allocation decisions. However, no one truly understood the soul of the customer—what they loved and what they despised.
At Club Concierge, we revolutionise customer engagement by adopting a concierge mindset. Today, we empower numerous companies that seek to enhance their outcomes with dealers, customers, and even residents.
Our other company, Les Concierges, primarily focuses on engaging employees of forward-thinking, HR-friendly companies. As the world’s largest and finest work/life benefits provider, Les Concierges introduced the first corporate concierge program in 1998. Serving over 600 clients across 1,300 client sites in 17 global cities, we provide on-site, work-focused concierge services to over 1.5 million employees.
Our services are limited only by imagination as long as they align with ethical and moral principles. We ensure employees can optimise their 24 hours by efficiently handling their to-do lists, acting as their personal assistants, travel guides, entertainment advisers, home maintenance gurus, errand runners, and party planners—all in one.
Les Concierges is the only company offering an integrated loyalty program, including concierge, travel, rewards, and benefit fulfilment functions that can be customised to meet specific client needs. Our services are boundless, limited only by imagination and guided by legality and ethicality.
This comprehensive employee benefit effectively addresses critical issues such as productivity, retention, and stress, enabling client companies to tackle hidden employment costs that impact their bottom lines.
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Dipali- My greatest professional accomplishment is carving out three unique markets for the application of the concierge mindset. Firstly, on the employee front, the concierge has become an integral part of work-life balance in over 500 companies, not only in India but also in far-off countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, and the Philippines.
Secondly, on the residential front, the concierge has become a harbinger of happiness in hundreds of residential complexes, with top builders such as Godrej, Tatas, and Ireos recognising the significant added value the concierge brings to their properties.
Lastly, the application of the concierge mindset is now being used to transform guest, customer, and member experiences through intelligent personalisation. This application has immense potential to revolutionise guest service and enhance personalisation, leading to unprecedented levels of customer satisfaction.
What is the best decision you’ve ever made? What effective strategies have you implemented or initiatives have you taken to achieve success?
Dipali- The best decision I’ve made was to follow my passion and let common sense guide me. The most effective strategy that has worked for me is to know, love, and understand people.
Regardless of the nature or location of a business, be it manufacturing pipes in Lesotho or carving vegetables in Phnom Penh, success ultimately hinges on people and relationships. By prioritising kindness and ensuring it permeates every aspect of your business, you will always find success.
What are your guiding ideals? Where do you find the strength and stamina to excel in managing various entities? People look up to you and observe your journey closely.
Dipali- My guiding ideals revolve around four principles:
Passion with a Purpose: I believe in building a company as if I will own it forever. It’s not a hobby that funds my lifestyle. Every step I take in building my business is measured in terms of the value I am creating RIGHT NOW. I prioritise passion, but I also embrace common sense.
Personalisation: Regardless of the nature of our work, we are ultimately in the business of people. Whether I am a concierge or someone flying airplanes or constructing high-rise buildings, I always begin by understanding my customer. Starting with a deep knowledge of who my customer is, their preferences, and their needs is crucial for building an exceptional company.
I resist the temptation to focus solely on logos, websites, messaging, pricing, or marketing methods. Instead, I immerse myself in understanding my customers’ lives, their online activities, their worries, and their spending habits.
By putting the customer first, I can build an extraordinary company. If I face growth challenges or business plan difficulties, I don’t resort to reports and spreadsheets; I go and sit with customers.
Perspective: Today’s world thrives on innovation and creativity. Innovation doesn’t always have to come in the form of groundbreaking products or life-altering inventions (although I hope someone invents a product that promises eternal life and overnight weight loss!).
Take taxis, for example—they have existed in every corner of the world for ages. However, it was Uber’s fresh perspective that transformed the industry and turned the company into a multi-billion-dollar business. By changing the way we perceive things, we can find answers and unlock new possibilities. I have experienced this firsthand.
Profit is King: Profit cannot be delegated. As an entrepreneur, it is my responsibility to keep a vigilant focus on generating profit. Profit is the lifeblood of a business, and I must ensure its continuous flow. Understanding the financial aspects of my business is vital.
While I rely on accountants, auditors, and bookkeepers, I never shy away from understanding the accounting side of my business. Doing my own math allows me to truly comprehend the workings of my business and make informed decisions.
How many hours do you work on average each day?
Dipali- When you love what you do, work becomes a constant companion—365 days a year, 24/7!
Have you faced any failures in your initiatives? What have you learned from these setbacks?
Dipali- Failure is an integral part of the journey to success. Without facing challenges and experiencing failures, I would never have been able to create again. The ups and downs of my journey have been addictive, fueling my desire to create initiatives that deliver value.
Failure should never be a source of embarrassment or a reason to give up on the ever-burning drive and vision that entrepreneurs possess. Even if you are the best of the best, there is always a chance someone else will come along and surpass you. However, if you love what you do, you will continue to believe in yourself and find the strength to persevere.
Do you believe your personal life is influenced by your professional life? How does this intertwining impact you?
Dipali- Absolutely, and it is a pleasant intertwining. As an entrepreneur, I cannot wear different masks—I am who I am around the clock. My family accompanies me on this journey, growing alongside me.
Naturally, there are moments when work consumes me and prevents me from attending a parent-teacher meeting or when I yearn to rush home and play with my dogs. These instances may bring heartaches, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have no regrets.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future?
Dipali- I do plan for the future, but I approach it with a flexible mindset. Plans are made in pencil, allowing room for adaptation and evolution.
In 2017, women repeatedly demonstrated their capabilities. However, the fact that women still need to “prove” themselves remains an underlying issue. Is it challenging to be an honest businesswoman in India? What, in your opinion, is the biggest obstacle to female leadership?
The biggest obstacle lies in perceiving challenges through the lens of gender. There is no inherent difference in the challenges faced by any gender. The mind creates these distinctions. The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are and finding happiness in what you discover.
Thank you for participating in this interview. Would you like to share your secret to success with our readers?
Dipali- Certainly! First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to your team for providing me with the opportunity to answer these thought-provoking questions. My secret to success is that successful people willingly do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.
See yourself on the threshold of definite success. Embrace a whole, clear, and glorious life that lies ahead of you. Go for it! Achieve! Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful drivers of success. When you embark on a task, do it with all your might. Infuse it with your unique personality.
Be active, be energetic, be faithful, and you will achieve your goals. Nothing truly great has been accomplished without enthusiasm. The fastest and surest path to success is by investing in yourself.