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COVER PAGE STORY- Dr. Barkathunnisha

Early Life and Career :

Being born as a second-generation migrant to Indian parents, Dr. Nisha was born and brought up by a traditional Indian Muslim family wherein her father was the sole breadwinner. A humble background taught her the most important principles of life like discipline, frugality, hard work and focus. Being brought up in a disciplined environment only enhanced Dr. Nisha’s personal growth as she had more time to focus on her life goals than on any distractions in her life. She was an avid reader and this habit expanded her intellectual horizon and increased her thirst for knowledge.

Her father always encouraged her to reach for the highest standards in everything she did and do everything with 100% commitment and focus. It was her parents’ trust that enabled her to push herself out of her comfort zone and expand new frontiers. The family’s values and guiding principles motivated her siblings and Dr. Nisha to strive towards entering the best schools and performing to the best of their abilities. Another important value that she was raised with was the practice of gratitude and to count the blessings that have been endowed on her and her family.

In a community where women are expected to be nothing more than just good wives and mothers, Dr. Nisha faced the pressure of religious orthodox, social prejudice and gender bias. She faced community pressure and was even discouraged to pursue her higher studies; she battled at home, experienced estranged relationships just to pursue her dreams. Nothing came to her the easy way. The pursuit of her dreams, education and passion was not handed to her on a silver platter but she had to battle and struggle.

She considers herself to be an eternally optimistic person and always believes in what the motivational speaker and life coach Tony Robbins says “If you are gonna make a change, operate from the belief that says that whatever in life happens not to be but for me”. Her struggles only made her a stronger, more focused person and helped her develop a sense of compassion for people who go through struggles in life to achieve their dreams.


Career Beginnings:

Dr. Nisha’s deep interest in learning about human behaviour and social problems led her to pursue Psychology and hence she graduated in Social Work and Psychology from the National University of Singapore.

She was aware of her strengths then: having patience, a listening ear and compassion for humanity. She wanted to leverage on these strengths and at the same time wanted to be a catalyst of change in people’s lives. After practising for 2 years, Dr. Nisha realised that her strengths were also her weaknesses. She became overly involved in her clients’ problems, and the resulting tension and preoccupation with others’ problems led her to suffer from compassion fatigue. She also felt a sense of powerlessness when it came to intervening in some complex cases and navigating through bureaucracy. Hence, she decided to take a break from social work and explore other opportunities.


Entering the Tourism Industry :

One of Dr. Nisha’s Gallup strengths is focus. She often desires to dictate the circumstances of her existence rather than leave things to fate or chances. She always believes in the principles of planning and doing thorough research before going ahead with any plan. Hence, to explore new opportunities, she studied the market trends in detail to know which industry will grow, and also introspected on her core competencies and passion.

Back then, the travel and tourism industry was experiencing a boom period. The industry was projected to grow in Singapore and internationally. It was a significant industry in terms of GDP contribution, employment and visitor arrivals. Coming from a family that never had the means to travel on vacations, Dr. Nisha had a strong desire to travel, meet new people and learn new things.

To gain a deep knowledge of the industry and equip herself with the relevant skills, Dr. Nisha enrolled in a tourism diploma course. Upon graduation, she aimed to work only with the top travel companies in Singapore to acquire the highest standards. She tapped on the power of those in her proximity to land a job in her first interview. But again, that came with a compromise of a major pay cut from her previous job and big sales targets that pushed her boundaries. In the first 10 years on the job, she was determined to learn all aspects of the travel business: corporate travel, leisure travel and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) travel. Drawing on a relationship action plan, she began to network strategically with the travel trade, and expanded her associations in Singapore and internationally. She created her career path plan, focused on her goals and sought guidance from the right mentors to elevate herself in the corporate pipeline.


Dr. Nisha’s Debut Startup and Venturing into Women-centric Tourism :

Dr. Nisha’s first start up was ‘Elevated Consultancy & Training’, which is a transformative firm that provides tourism consulting, corporate training and coaching services to individuals, organisations and destinations. With an in-depth analysis of clients’ challenges, the firm delivers customised solutions that effectively meet their needs while promising a high level of competence, expertise and quality training. Drawing on broad-based knowledge and a vast experience in the tourism industry, the consultants at her company provide fresh perspectives to tourism organisations’ issues and act as catalyst for change. Some of their clients include tourism boards, convention bureaus, hospitality and tourism organisations in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Cambodia, and South Africa. In addition to this, the company provides training and consultancy services to sectors that include healthcare, finance, telecommunication, retail as well as the public sector.


World Women Tourism :

According to a United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2012) report, tourism has almost twice as many women employers as other sectors. Women are more likely to have a leadership voice in tourism businesses, associations and tourism governance compared to other arenas. Tourism provides better opportunities for women’s participation in the workforce, women’s entrepreneurship and women’s leadership than other sectors of the economy. Though there have been many advancements in the empowerment of women, many are still lagging behind in terms of economic opportunities, social mobility, access to financial and other resources and employment rights and privileges. There are on-going challenges for women in tourism – they are less paid, under-represented at management levels as well as in lucrative professions, experiencing challenges to entrepreneurship and business ownership.

Further, a study by McKinsey found that narrowing the gender gap could double the contribution of women to global GDP between the years 2014 and 2025. It is imperative to capitalize and leverage the potential of women in tourism, encourage inclusivity in the value chain, and enhance their social capital. Dr.Nisha envisioned that it is time to push critical conversations on gender empowerment and change the economic and social trajectory of women in tourism.

Dr. Nisha and her co-founders started ‘World Women Tourism (WWT)’ which is an intelligence network platform where professionals and organizations have access to insights, resources and opportunities. The main aim of WWT is to empower women through collaborations, knowledge and build a platform to connect women to drive change. The main idea behind starting WWT was the belief that with the right opportunities, network, knowledge and support, women in tourism will be able to fulfill their dreams and gain social and financial empowerment. The company’s services include, online business networking and collaborations, online workshops and seminars, e-library of research, reports and knowledge-based resources, mentoring projects and business advising.

During the current pandemic, WWT launched the Glocal Webinar Series (GWS) on Accelerating Women in the Tourism Industry. The goal of the GWS aims to support women in the tourism industry so that they may better approach the new disruptions that challenge their personal and professional lives. Each session will be country-specific and will address the issues and challenges facing women in their respective regions. Over 3 months, the webinars were conducted in Myanmar, Bhutan, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines and reached over a 1000 women. Dr. Nisha and her team have visioned an audacious goal to have the GWS travel to 100 locations around the world and reach 10,000 women by the end of 2021.


COVER PAGE STORY- Richard Branson

Richard Branson is an English business magnate, philanthropist, investor and author who is the Founder of the Virgin Group, which has more than 400 companies from various fields under its control. Sir Branson expressed his desire to become an entrepreneur at a young age. His first business venture, at the age of 16, was a magazine called Student. In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. He opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records—later known as Virgin Megastores—in 1972. Sir Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he started Virgin Atlantic airline and expanded the Virgin Records music label. In 2004, he founded spaceflight corporation Virgin Galactic, based at Mojave Air and Space Port, noted for the SpaceShipTwo suborbital space-plane designed for space tourism.

In March 2000, Sir Branson was knighted at Buckingham Palace for "services to entrepreneurship". For his work in retail, music and transport (with interests in land, air, sea and space travel), his taste for adventure, and for his humanitarian work, he has become a prominent global figure. In 2007, he was placed in the Time 100 Most Influential People in The World list.

In June 2020, Forbes listed Sir Branson's estimated net worth at US$4.1 billion.


Early Life and Career

Sir Branson was born in Blackheath, London, to Eve Branson (née Evette Huntley Flindt; born 1924), a former ballet dancer and air hostess, and Edward James Branson (1918–2011), a barrister. He has two younger sisters. His grandfather, Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the High Court of Justice and a Privy Councillor.

His third great-grandfather, John Edward Branson, left England for India in 1793; John Edward's father, Harry Wilkins Branson, later joined him in Madras. From 1793, four generations of his family was at Cuddalore, India.

Sir Branson was educated at Scaitcliffe School, a prep school in Surrey, before briefly attending Cliff View House School in Sussex. He attended Stowe School, an independent school in Buckinghamshire until the age of sixteen.

Sir Branson has dyslexia, and had poor academic performance. However, Branson's parents were supportive of his endeavours from an early age. His mother was an entrepreneur; one of her most successful ventures was building and selling wooden tissue boxes and wastepaper bins. In London, he started off squatting from 1967 to 1968.

In February 1970, entrepreneurs Sir Branson and Nik Powell together founded the Virgin Group, a British multinational venture capital conglomerate.

The brand name "Virgin" arose when Richard Branson and Nik Powell formed a record shop. They considered themselves virgins in business. Branson has described the "V" in the logo as an expressive tick, representing the Virgin seal of approval.

Virgin Group has its headquarters at The Battleship Building in the Paddington district of the City of Westminster. Previously it was in The School House, Brook Green, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

The Virgin Group of companies has a complex structure that contains elements of a generic conglomerate and a keiretsu, and sometimes it simply licences its brand. Examples of licensing are Virgin Records and Virgin Media, which are owned by Universal Music Group and Liberty Global respectively.


Personal Life :

Branson married Kristen Tomassi in 1972 and divorced her in 1979. He has a daughter Holly (b. 1981) and a son Sam (b. 1985) with his second wife, Joan Templeman, whom he met in 1976. They were married in 1989 on Necker Island. He stated in an interview with Piers Morgan that he and Joan also had a daughter named Clare Sarah, who died when she was four days old in 1979.

In 2007 Branson was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery to conduct an on-flight wedding as part of a marketing effort for domestic flights in the USA on Virgin America airline.

From 2013 to 2017 Branson served as President of the Old Stoic Society of Stowe School.

Branson is also an experienced kitesurfer, holding some world records in the sport. In August 2016 Branson was injured while riding his bicycle in the British Virgin Islands and suffered torn ligaments and a cracked cheek as a result. He was taken to hospital in Miami for X-rays and scans.


Awards and Recognition :

In 1992, Branson received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.

In 1993, Branson was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology from Loughborough University.

In the New Year’s Honours list dated 30 December 1999, Elizabeth II signified her intention to confer the honour of Knight Bachelor on him for his "services to entrepreneurship".

He was knighted by Charles, Prince of Wales on 30 March 2000 at an investiture in Buckingham Palace.

Also in 2000, Branson received the Tony Jannus Award for his accomplishments in commercial air transportation.

In 2000, Branson was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Branson appears at No. 85 on the 2002 list of 100 Greatest Britons on the BBC and voted for by the public. Branson was also ranked in 2007's Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in The World.

On 7 December 2007, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon presented Branson with the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award for his support for environmental and humanitarian causes.

On 24 January 2011, Branson was awarded the German Media Prize (organised by "Media Control Charts"), previously handed to former US president Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama.

On 14 November 2011, Branson was awarded the ISTA Prize by the International Space Transport Association in The Hague for his pioneering achievements in the development of suborbital transport systems with "Virgin Galactic".

On 11 February 2012, Branson was honoured with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' President's Merit Award for his contributions to the music industry.

On 2 June 2013, Branson received an honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from Kaunas Technology University in Kaunas, Lithuania.

On 15 May 2014, Branson received the 2014 Business for Peace Award, awarded annually by the Business for Peace Foundation in Oslo, Norway.

On 21 September 2014, Branson was recognized by The Sunday Times as the most admired business person over the last five decades.

On 9 October 2014, Branson was named as the No. 1 LGBT ally by the OUTstanding organisation.

On 29 October 2015, Branson was listed by UK-based company ‘Richtopia’ at number 1 in the list of 100 Most Influential British Entrepreneurs.

In October 2015, Branson received the International Crisis Group Chairman's Award at the United Nations Development Programme's in Pursuit of Peace Awards Dinner.