“I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Managing Director and CFO at VIP Industries Ltd,” Neetu Kashiramka said in a LinkedIn post over a week ago. A standard post that received the usual quota of congratulations and compliments.

The story was played out elsewhere.

The announcement of her elevation as the head of Asia’s third largest luggage maker was made on August 15 and the next day the stock markets showed its enthusiastic endorsement with the shares of VIP Industries zooming over 7 per cent. That should have been an even greater compliment for the chartered accountant who joined the company just three years back as its CFO.

It has been a particularly good year for Kashiramka, who was appointed executive director in May.

While it may seem unnecessary to flog the gender angle in every top appointment of a woman, the fact is that women’s representation in corporate India is still so minuscule, and there are so few women on board seats that one should unapologetically bring out the drum rolls every time a woman makes another hole in that increasingly fragile glass ceiling.

Kashiramka’s story is like that of millions of other girls in India. She grew up in a Marwari family where the sons got more attention than the daughters. Prospective husbands lined up for her, did not want a ‘working’ wife. Rather proactively, Kashiramka searched her future husband’s number in the Yellow Pages and convinced him that she could not allow her education to go to waste and she had to work. Well, her ‘suitable boy’ was convinced.

A steady rise

After qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1997 she joined Kewal Kiran Clothing as assistant manager accounts. After a couple of years there, she moved to Jyothy Laboratories and here she consolidated her position, working for over 17 years. As VP-Finance, she also handled a number of significant assignments in the company including its IPO, while she was also responsible for implementing an ERP solution across all its locations across the country. She was instrumental in getting a PE investor on board following the company’s acquisition of Henkel India in 2011.

A former colleague remembers her as being very ‘diligent and detailed oriented’ in financial matters and allocating resources after proper process and procedures.

Her next stop was Greaves Cotton and after a couple of years there she joined VIP Industries, where her rise has been meteoric. Since she joined the company in 2020, the company’s stock price has trebled. Revenue has also risen over three times and from a loss in FY21 – following Covid restrictions – it is now making adequate profits.

At VIP Industries, she was not merely the financial controller, but also responsible for legal, secretarial, investor relationship, information technology and commercial functions. VIP Industries will be entering a new chapter when she takes over the reins in November this year.