Sangeeta Kulkarni, CEO, has been responsible for transforming Brickwork into a global brand and the world’s largest provider of Remote Executive Assistance Services. With 10 years of existence, and 20,000 clients in 116 countries, this is no mean achievement for an Indian organization which pioneered the idea of Remote Executive Assistant (REATM) and continues to deliver various solutions through its Admin, Technical and Knowledge services. She has been instrumental in propelling a 5-member start-up into a 350 strong employee base with razor sharp focus on business excellence while catering to diverse client requirements, driving innovative people practices and leveraging processes and technologies for all round growth.
Raised in a conservative family in Mumbai and youngest of seven siblings, she believed that a woman should aspire to be a good homemaker, wife and a mother. After she married Vivek Kulkarni, an officer in the Indian Administrative Services, she was exposed to the challenges of the rural poor and the satisfaction and challenges in implementing government policies and programmes. An important milestone in her life was when she took up the Masters Programme in Human Resource Education at Boston University, USA, which was an eye-opener to the power of human capital. However, the most important milestone was when she and Vivek co-founded Brickwork India in 2005 to make the benefits of outsourcing available to senior executives, start-ups and small to mid-sized companies, by providing simple to complex virtual business assistance at competitive prices. Vivek had an important role in her career journey, he recognised her sharp intellect and leadership potential and inspired her to go beyond her comfort zone and take up new challenges.
She has been widely acknowledged and felicitated in India and abroad for her leadership and business achievements. She has been responsible for making Brickwork, India’s first ISO 27001: 2013 certified Virtual Assistance company. Brickwork India has also been certified as a Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE) after a detailed due diligence, by WEConnect International, headquartered in Washington DC, USA. Brickwork has received global media attention through glowing description of its unique services in the New York Times best sellers ‘The World is Flat’ by Thomas Friedman and “The Four Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris. She is also the recipient of “The Women Entrepreneur of the Year (IT) – 2015” instituted by the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). Her most recent recognition was receiving the “Women Leadership Achievement Award” at the 3rd World Women Leadership Congress & Awards (WWLCA) – 2016 event held at Mumbai, India.
Under her leadership, the organization has manoeuvred tough market conditions and economic times and seen a revenue growth of over 500% in the past 6 years. This is a significant achievement for a highly complex, diverse and demanding business space. Her continuous thrust in improving customer experience standards has resulted in customer satisfaction scores ranging from 91% to 99% over the past ten years.
Her vision is shared by all her employees of becoming the best executive assistant provider in the world and this has propelled them to raise their individual capacities. She says, “Employees and clients are the key drivers of the organization. Our HR mission is to inculcate a culture of learning, creativity and teamwork and develop each employee into a truly nurtured, ingenious and valuable asset. We are constantly pushing the limits to raise the customer experience standards and provide a wider range of services, along with empowering employees with the right skills to accelerate business momentum and retain our competitive edge in the REATM space.”
Her deep belief in continuous improvement has transformed the company’s service and people practice. “When we put our people in front of clients, we want to make sure they are honourable human beings who will treat the client and their data with respect and keep up the company’s reputation by always doing the right thing.”
Her favourite line of thought is, “Keep things simple, specific and measurable. This makes it easy for every employee to quickly understand and assimilate expectations to drive growth. Simplicity also helps us to effectively govern and manage objectives and facilitates in achieving our goals faster”.
She continuously monitors the organization’s client-centric value chain and establishes new productivity standards for delivery teams to showcase their intelligence and expertise in meeting client expectations. She has successfully increased ROI of this value chain through a technology enabled metrics framework that measures efficiency, transparency, accountability and time of each executive assistant.
As a CEO, Sangeeta has a resolute focus on driving social initiatives towards education and employability of the underprivileged youth. She set up “Brickwork Pragathi Foundation” for driving CSR activities in a more focused manner. Brickwork India’s employees volunteer for all the CSR activities through an employee programme called “Be Responsible”.
When asked about her hobbies, she laughingly says, “I have no time for a single hobby, but I have several interests, be it cooking and experimenting with new cuisines, gardening, travelling, reading and most importantly, spending time with my two daughters, Reecha and Shruti.”
Brickwork’s mission is to enable organizations optimize their executive time by freeing them up from routine and non-core tasks with our personalized and customized Remote Executive Assistant (REATM) services.” The vision is to provide best-in-class Executive Assistant experience to organizations worldwide.