Hillier Hopkins – Inspiring women leaders: Anjum Rajan

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International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women around the world. This year’s theme, #breakthebias, looks to raise awareness of bias and take action to forge women’s equality.

This year, we want to inspire and encourage women across our profession and in our client organisations.

We will, under our Inspiring women leaders series, interview and profile some of our clients, celebrating their achievements, sharing their stories, and inspiring others to achieve the very best they can in the workplace.

Whilst these interviews will focus on International Women’s Day (8 March) they will continue throughout 2022. Do please share these stories and do get in touch if you would like to share your own experiences.

#BreakingtheBias – Anjum Rajan

Vira International is one of the hospitality industry’s most trusted partners, recruiting talented chefs from India into the largest and most prestigious hotels and restaurants in the UK and the US.

Founded over 50 years ago in India by her father, Anjum Rajan is today the managing director of its UK business.

Anjum’s journey in building Vira International is one that might see a lesser man or women give up. She was first made redundant from promising dot.com business that crashed. With the support and encouragement of her husband Ravi Sharma, they joined the family business, initially recruiting nursing staff into the US. Twelve months later, facing a bureaucratic five-to-six-year recruitment cycle, they returned to the UK broke and facing financial ruin. That was when the chef recruitment business was born.

From an unheated garage, with a laptop that had seen better days, the successful business she leads today was created.

“Our business is unique in the hospitality recruitment market as we also advise on immigration alongside placing staff,” explains Anjum. “Most of our competitors do just one or the other. We recruit around 40 to 50 chefs a month – the demand is high and growing.”

The business is built on strong financial and management resilience and needs to be to work around the government’s changing immigration policies, Brexit and a global pandemic.

“The pandemic closed all our work in the US for two years,” explains Anjum. “It is only now opening up again.”

Vira UK now employs 15 staff in the UK, with a back office in India  and the head office led by the youngest sibling is India’s leading hospitality recruiter for the Middle East along with UK and USA.

“It is the reputation of our business, both with the chefs we recruit and our hospitality clients,” says Anjum. “It underpins the success and the hard work we all put in.”

Anjum is an inspiring woman, driven by a desire to succeed in everything she does. Money is not her primary motivation, but a strong sense of responsibility.

“I have had to reinvent myself”, says Anjum. “I know I can always do better. And whilst the business can be stressful, and women face many challenges, it is always important to remain true to who you are.”

Learn more at https://www.vira.co.uk/