She bestrides the divergent worlds of manufacturing sugar and the arts with elan.
There is much more to Rajshree Pathy, 61, than the sobriquet “sugar baroness” often used to describe her. No doubt she has broken many a glass ceiling, taking over as the first female managing director of a sugar mill in 1990, after the untimely death of her father G. Vardaraj, who had set it up, as well as becoming the first woman president of the Indian Sugar Mills Association in 2004/05. No doubt her company too has cause for satisfaction, having overcome three successive years of losses by posting a profit of ` 29.94 crore in 2016/17. It has also ventured into a number of new areas in recent years, including food, energy and agri-business.
But equally impressive are her other accomplishments, especially the setting up of the Indian Design Forum in 2012, which held its third national exhibition last year and which Conde Nast Traveller has called “the most relevant and most influential design platform in the country”. Growing up in Coimbatore, married at 17, she has overcome numerous constraints to establish herself. Her Delhi home is a veritable arts museum. If that was not enough, her favourite hobby is scuba diving.