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Celebrating Jayati Shekhawat, Brewery Head at United Breweries- Telangana, This International Women’s Day

Hailing from a conservative Rajput family in Rajasthan, Jayati Shekhawat, a mother to two young boys, started her career in 2005 as a chemist trainee in a metals conglomerate. Today she is the Brewery Head at United Breweries’ Nizam plant in Telangana. She divides her time between the shop floor and strategizing operations at the plant.

In her exclusive conversation with Brewer World, Jayati talks about her working experience at United Breweries, importance of work-life balance, challenges she faced and evolution of the beer industry in India.

“The best part about my job is that I get to brew the joy of true togetherness for consumers. Sharing peoples’ happiness and being a part of it since beer is a social lubricant for good times, is something I feel that I would not have achieved in any other industry,” says Jayati.

Tell us about yourself and your role at United Breweries. How and when did you decide to enter the alcobev industry? 

I hail from a conservative Rajput family from Rajasthan and am the only one in my family who ventured into this industry. I have been married for 17 years and am a proud mother of two.   

I completed my master’s in Chemistry and subsequently started my career as a chemist trainee in the metallurgy industry at a leading mining company. I have close to two decades of experience across industries and profiles.  

I joined UBL in April 2022, which fortuitously was my first venture into the alcobev industry. Presently, I work as a Brewery Head at United Breweries’ Nizam plant in Telangana and divide my time between handling operations on the shop floor and strategizing the functioning of the business unit. 

What is it like to be a woman in the male-dominated beverage industry? 

Even though I understand there is a long way to go, I believe that the social stigma that existed a while ago is shattering and have personally never been affected by it. At UBL, I have always felt included, heard and valued, and I believe one of the core reasons for this is our best-in-class inclusion and diversity practices.  

What challenges did you face when you first entered the industry, and how did you overcome them? 

I entered the alcobev industry when I joined UBL in April 2022. For me, it was a smooth sail, thanks to my family, friends and colleagues at UBL. I belong to a Rajput family, where women love their drink. So, for me, there is no social stigma attached to this.  

What do you think about the evolution of the beer industry in India? 

I believe the beer industry has solid long-term growth potential in India, where the per capita consumption of beer is low. With rising incomes, a hot climate and a young demographic, the future of this industry is bright. Consumers, too, are looking to celebrate moments of true togetherness with their friends and family. Beer, a social lubricant, fits well into this proposition.  

What does your typical day at work look like? 

My day typically begins with a stand-up meeting on the shop floor, where I meet with the heads of various departments to review progress and strategize. Post this, I conduct shop floor rounds to ensure operational efficiency. In the latter half, I focus on managing shop floor operations and developing strategies to ensure the business unit functions effectively. As the Brewery Head, my primary responsibility is to envision new initiatives and ensure that my team shares my vision and understands the direction of the sector. My role is to serve as a bridge between my team and the broader corporate vision so that we can work together to achieve organizational goals. 

How do you manage work-life balance, and how important is it to have the right balance in today’s time?  

While it is extremely crucial to have a work-life balance in today’s fast-paced world, it is also important to love your job. If you dislike your job, you will crave time off at all times.  

I love my job, and working here is a part of my passion. I’ve managed to balance my family life while delivering my best on the work front.  

What would you like to tell women seeking a work opportunity in the beer space? 

I have only one piece of advice for women looking to work in the beer industry — Go for it. It is a wonderful industry to work in.   

UBL is a great place to work, and I have always felt supported and acknowledged here. Also, it is vital to work hard to make a place for yourself. It is important to respect your work rather than focusing on the outside-in perspective. When we talk about social stigma and taboos, it is more in our minds than others. Being a woman should not stop anyone from achieving their dreams and exploring opportunities. 

Who are your professional role models, and why? 

Even though I have a lot of respect for each colleague I have worked with, I truly believe that everyone has their journey. Though I might not have a unique professional role model, I have learned a lot from my parents, who have always been my pillar of strength. Apart from my parents, I would consider my husband my role model, who has always supported me in my journey.  

What is the best piece of advice you received when you started? Has it helped you in your journey? 

There is one piece of advice that has stood by me, ‘Stay true to yourself’. The first condition of life should be that you don’t manipulate yourself and stay true to yourself. Understand your limitations and actions. I try to stay true to myself and to those around me and I believe that helps.