Trisha Gokool Parshotam
TRISHA GOKOOL PARSHOTAM is exceptionally proud of the success of Dragon Protection Services and is passionate about her brand. She is a major shareholder and partner in the company and heads up the marketing and sales division.
Dragon Protection Services was launched by her husband, Manhar Parshotam, in 1995, and relaunched in 2007 after a few years of working in the finance sector. According to Trisha, the company really got off the ground during the 2010 World Cup when they managed to get a car on the road and brand it. Trisha says, "From there it's been a wonderful nine years." She flags her decision in 2011 to 'pour her passion' into growing their brand as the start of their journey.
Trisha followed her school career at Durban Girls' College with an Honours degree in strategic market-ing at the then University of Natal. As a brand specialist, she has had the expertise to grow their business from strength to strength.
Dragon Protection Services is a security company that provides (hu)manpower incorporating armed and unarmed guarding and escorting trucks from port to border, their specialty being bodyguarding celebrities, government VIPs, and sports personalities.
Bonding in the car
When Trisha recalls their early days of running the business she chuckles, describing how - as newly-weds who were the managers/supervisors/directors - they spent their time bonding in the car while driving around checking their sites at 6 am in the morning, and again in the evening for around three to four hours at a time. "We did not have a full night's sleep for maybe two to three years. We had the radio going, the cellphone ringing... There was no office - it was our dining room table in our two and a half-bedroom flat!"
Trisha attributes their success to community support and prioritising their expenses. She feels they were blessed by people who had started small, the way they had, and gave them the opportunity to guard their properties or their businesses once they had developed them. Living life less indulgently was a must and became the foundation of Trisha's lifestyle. She admits to having learned a lot from Manhar who she describes as "a bit older, a bit wiser, and more streetwise", his considered approach balancing her spontaneity.
Vision for the future
Although they have an exciting vision for the future, Trisha says that there've been times when they've been tempted to work for someone, knowing there's a guaranteed pay cheque in their pocket at the end of each month, relieving them of the pressure of finding staff salaries on time. However, their commitment to empower and give people jobs is what keeps Dragon going. Trisha is firm that you have to have faith: "You need to believe that you are where you are for a reason and that you're going to keep moving forward." Dragon focuses on hiring staff, deliberately incorporating women, who live in the area where the work is so that all residents benefit from those developments.
Their vision is to start up a training centre focusing on merging the role of hospitality with security, which Trisha describes as a niche market. She wants her staff to know that their purpose goes beyond being a presence at the door, and she wants to help them to shift their perspective of themselves and their work, to know that they serve a greater purpose.
Believe in yourself
Trisha derives inspiration from herself, as well as family members, saying: "If you don't believe in yourself and you can't inspire yourself, then who are you? You need to understand who you are, what your purpose is, what your core competencies are, and once you know that you will inspire yourself." She's also been inspired by videos and books, and witnessing how her father and grandmother, from small beginnings, have grown empires. Her mother too, who 'held the fort at home', has been an inspiration. "I'm not only inspired as a businesswoman, I'm inspired as a mother... That cape never comes off us and that inspiration has come from my mother. Also, there are very few women in the security industry so that, to me, is my inspiration - knowing that there's one of me."
Trisha identifies being a woman in a male-dominated industry as a perpetual challenge, particularly when pitching for her business in the boardroom and all the questions are then put to her husband. "Unfortunately, women have to have a different approach to men in business, simply because we're wired differently. The story of 'Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars', is absolutely true." Speaking from experience, she adds: "Together, as a team, men and women are amazing. We both have different ingredients that we can add to this amazing build up... We work together, I work hand in hand with men."
Achieving a work-life balance is not a struggle for Trisha who, after initially feeling guilty for returning to work after becoming a mother, rationalised her position in the workplace by acknowledging that she needs to serve a higher purpose where her skills are needed and she can add value.
Her advice to her younger self would be, "That was awesome. I'm so happy you did what you did!" She continues: "For me, if I didn't do all of what I did then, I wouldn't be where I am today so there would be no other advice...Live every day to what your heart wants to try and see what you can be."