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Thursday, 14 May, 2015, 13 : 00 PM [IST]

Radha Bhatia, Chairperson, Bird Group

From a teacher to a successful entrepreneur-cum-philanthropist, Radha Bhatia is truly a role model for many. Even so, being the humble person that she is, she believes that the goodwill that Bird Group, which she heads, commands in the trade, and its activities on the social work front are the results of joint endeavours. The visionary tells Akansha Pandey about her journey and her love for social welfare
A graduate from Sophia Girls School in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh with a Masters Degree in Psychology from Raghunath Girls Post Graduate College, Meerut, Radha Bhatia taught for four years (1968-1972) at her alma mater. Following her marriage to Vijay Bhatia, Radha Bhatia moved to Delhi, and within a year started assisting her husband in the family business in the travel industry, though she has had no relevant formal education for the same.

“I have seen the revolution in the travel trade industry. Earlier, the reservation system was very different. Some time during the 80s came the first computer, marking the era of technological revolution, after which we ventured with Amadeus,” she recalls. Set up in 1994, Amadeus India Private Limited is wholly owned by Bird Group. The company offers state-of-the-art travel automation technology to the Indian travel industry.

Around the 80s, Bird Group was the GSA for Lufthansa for Punjab. It had offices in Chandigarh and Jalandhar, and established a successful association with the German airline, Bhatia said, adding that the business model was different at that point of time. “Impressed by our professionalism, Lufthansa gave us other regions to handle. We opened five to six offices in Uttar Pradesh in 1986 and captured the market in a year’s time. My colleagues in Lufthansa assisted me in understanding the travel trade. It wasn’t too difficult for me as I had the passion for what I was doing. Learning about an altogether new field was an enlightening experience,” she elaborates.

Readying Gen Next
Hiring fresh talent and training them the ‘Bird’ way has always been something that Bhatia has been fond of. She mentions, “The senior management at Bird makes its younger employees feel like a part of the organisation and our extended family. My doors are open 24*7 for my employees. We are always accessible and ensure that our employees’ voices are heard. Due to the same, the attrition rate at Bird is very low. We lead because of our goodwill in the market and go out of our way to help.”

Back when information technology was still developing in the aviation and OTA spaces, Bhatia noted a dearth of efficient training schools. Thus, taking forward her passion for teaching and training fresh talent, she decided to capitalise on the situation and established Bird Academy in 1998. The objective was quality workforce and perfect services to clients. “The students at Bird Academy are looked on as credible potential employees, and face no hassles in getting placements. Currently, we are looking forward to tying up with management institutes for inculcating in our students managerial and multitasking skills,” she informs.

Giving back to Society
Bhatia’s passion for her work is incomplete without fulfilling her Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Bhatia believes. For the same, Bird Group has partnered with NGOs such as Sukarya - based in New Delhi - which works for women health and empowerment. Well-functioning computers that are no longer useful to the company from the work point of view, and that can be used for learning basics, are donated.

Also, in order to make education accessible to the weaker sections of the society, Bhatia has tied up with a few Arya Samaj temples in New Delhi. The trainers are hired by Bird to teach computers to the underprivileged. Under her guidance, Bird has also set up computers at Bhatia Welfare Society, an NGO in West Delhi.

“Recently, we donated 20 computers to the Rotary Club in Gurgaon for the underprivileged and also to other parts of India. Whenever we come across a needy or an NGO, we try to help in whichever way we can. We want to turn our NGO, Parvarish into a funding agency for other grassroots NGOs. Finance plays a vital role and we don’t want healthy initiatives to suffer for want of it. We also aim to motivate our employees to donate for good cause. Next, we are looking at tying up with municipality schools to donate computers,” outlines the true philanthropist.

Her dedication and keen interest in giving back to society have led Bhatia to form WE (Women Empowerment) under the Bird Foundation. The Group organised the ‘WE' conference to bring eminent female achievers on one platform to discuss their accomplishments and thus guide and influence the women of today.

WE, which was formed with an objective to connect, educate, and empower, has partnered with Delhi Police in conducting self-defence courses for the general public. Concentrating on the safety of women, WE and Delhi Police will be giving joint certifications soon.

Bhatia, who also serves on various other important roles, for instance, as Founder Member of the World Travel & Tourism Council India Initiative, looks forward to getting into CSR duties on a full-time basis.

Personal Space
Bhatia is enthusiastic about gardening, cooking, painting, and music, and makes it a point to indulge in her hobbies on a regular basis. During weekends, she tends to her garden and involves her grandchildren in planting seeds and saplings. She likes playing the sitar and is getting trained in the same. She believes that there is always more to learn in music. For her, music is as therapeutic as yoga.

Bhatia lives in a joint family, and is very close to her grandchildren. “We try to have one meal of the day together, and don’t talk work at home. I make plans to keep my grandchildren engaged in constructive activities during the weekends. I enjoy preparing various snacks on the weekends,” she adds. Bhatia believes that grandchildren imbibe many values from their grandparents, and therefore she attempts to pass on the lessons that she has learnt from her grandparents, she adds.
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