Dr Poonam Gupta OBE is a leading UK entrepreneur and CEO of one of Scotland’s most successful export businesses, PG Paper. Her portfolio of companies has an annual turnover of circa $100 million, operating in over 60 countries, with offices in India, USA, China, Belgium, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. She led a successful Scottish Chambers Task Force to India in 2019 and has been recognised as one of the ‘100 Most Influential in UK-India Relations’ by India Inc Group. Poonam is Vice President of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Chair of the Manufacturing Sector Committee of FICCI UK Council, the largest and oldest apex business organisation in India.
Poonam’s entrepreneurial and business efforts have also been acknowledged by her peer group and the industry at large; for which she has received several business awards, most recently Ernst & Young’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ in 2019. She was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List in 2016 for services to charity and business.
Poonam is a benefactor of several local, national and international charities; with a particular focus on woman-centric issues, disadvantaged children, gender equality and animal conservation. Since January 2021, Poonam has been an Ambassador for Young Entreprise Scotland.
Questions: 1) Which place, or city or country do you most feel at home in?
I consider it my privilege that I am part of 2 countries. I was born and brought up in Delhi and have been living in Scotland for the past 20 years. I feel at home both in Delhi and in Kilmacolm. I am glad I have had this chance to experience both countries and cultures and have friends in both.
2) What are your proudest achievements?
For me, every achievement sets the next target. I started my life in the UK from practically nothing and have built over time multiple businesses which have been resilient through some of the toughest times, including Covid-19. I continue on my entrepreneurial journey and have invested in diverse industries. Besides being a mother of two lovely girls who make me proud, I feel that being able to establish myself as an entrepreneur and being able to help others are my achievements. 3) What inspires you?
The possibilities that remain to be captured as the world is changing faster than ever before are highly inspirational to me. For me, it is always about challenging myself, learning from my mistakes and growing as a person and utilise my learnings to take on the next challenge. Life is too short and I want to see how far I can push myself and what ceilings I can break next. 4) What has been biggest obstacle in your career?
Although I believe that every obstacle could be a potential excuse to limit myself, I have faced multiple challenges, both personally and professionally during my lifetime so far, including a serious health scare. Sometimes obstacles are basically finding the right people who would come along the journey to help and support my entrepreneurial ventures. Ideas become viable businesses with the right team behind them. I see the biggest obstacle to grow is finding the right people at the right time. 5) Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date? Everyone who has believed in me and helped me, whether it was through positive thinking or mentorship, has influenced my career. This includes my children and my family. Both my children have been a great support to me since a very young age. Had they been any different than what they are, my life would have been different from what it is today. 6) What is the best aspect about your current role?
I am an entrepreneur and a CEO. What I love most about my role as the CEO of my company is challenging and getting the best out of my team and see them grow. Over the years, I have put everything that I have learned to use and learn further as I am going forward in my journey. I really enjoy the fact that I am still growing as a person by learning through doing. It keeps my mind fresh and challenged.
7) And the worst?
Some days can be very stressful and, as much as I keep my focus, unexpected situations arise that need immediate attention and solution. My stress threshold in general is very high; however, I know that I still have to work on myself to become better at it to do justice to my ever-increasing responsibilities and to myself.
8) What are your long term goals?
I believe that every goal needs to have a purpose. My long-term goal is to have multiple, successful entrepreneurial ventures which are driven by a strong sense of purpose and make a positive impact on the global society. My happiness comes from my work and supporting others who come asking for help.
9) If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change?
The Prime Minster is faced every day with so many challenges… Without worrying about my vote bank, I would want to implement overnight changes towards any policy that hinders a fairer society.
10) If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why.
I would have loved to be stuck on a desert island with Steve Jobs, just to get an insight into how he thought, how his brain worked and how he analysed information. It would have been a very fast-track learning process for an entrepreneur like myself.