Legacy of Leadership

“While in school and inspired by my mother, I decided to pursue my passion for gemmology and enrolled in GIA after college.”

Neel Pethe, Director, Waman Hari Pethe Jewellers and GIA GG®, Pearl Graduate and AJP

Tell us about your legacy – how did they come to be in the jewellery industry? Do you recollect a family story/anecdote?

So, the story goes that the two brothers, Waman Hari Pethe and Ganesh Hari Pethe, went to a fortune teller to seek advice on

what business to pursue. The fortune teller advised them to try

their hand at the jewellery trade, which they took to heart and decided to pursue. However, they also believed that their own abilities and hard work would play a larger role in their success than mere fortune telling.

The brothers received some funds from an investor, which helped them start their business. However, they encountered a setback early on when they were robbed of their entire investment, which included white pearls. They were worried about how they would explain this to their investor and whether he would still believe in them. However, the investor was understanding and told them to take the investment again and continue with their trade. This incident taught the brothers the importance of trust and integrity in the jewellery industry, which has been the cornerstone of our business ever since.

As the business grew and became successful, the brothers repaid their investor with double the amount they had borrowed. This act of honesty and integrity is a testament to the values that the Pethe family holds dear and is a significant reason for the success of their business. Trust is critical in the luxury business, and we believe that their practices and values are what have made us successful in the industry.

What was the vision when the brand started out and how did the brand remain focused on it?

WHP is a well-known jeweller primarily based in Maharashtra. We take pride in our identity as a Maharashtrian jeweller and our tagline, “Soneyree Kshanaanche Soabti,” reflects this identity. In English, it translates to “By your side during the golden moments of life.”

As jewellers, it’s important to understand that customers appreciate our designs, service, and sales team, but there is something more that draws them in. Customers visit our store for special occasions like weddings, births, anniversaries, and other joyous moments in their lives. As a part of their celebration, we feel honoured to assist them in selecting the perfect jewellery to commemorate their golden moments. This is where our tagline truly resonates – we celebrate these golden moments together with our customers, being on their side.

What is the biggest risk that you have taken, and how did you deal with its outcome?

The process of working in a family business and dealing with multiple generations can be time-consuming. It requires putting in a lot of effort and patience, especially when it comes to getting everyone on the same page without hurting anyone’s feelings. As a family business, there’s always the aspect of respecting each other’s opinions and reasoning with them. It’s important to understand that what works for one person may not work for another, and the way forward can be different for everyone.

In my family’s business, we’ve been around for over a century, and we’ve learned the importance of brand positioning and recall. So, I suggested broadening the horizons of the brand into other segments. At first, some family members were hesitant, but I took a risk and presented a project to them outlining the costs and potential profits. It is still an ongoing process, but hopefully, we can continue to move forward with this idea.

What do you do or say to yourself in the mirror when you are feeling low or dejected?

As the youngest member in the family, I often faced situations where I felt like no one was listening to me, and even now, such situations do arise. However, as family members, there are processes and reasons behind why certain decisions are made. It’s important to seek closure and mentally satisfy oneself with the reasoning behind such decisions, whether it’s about doing something or not doing it.

As a new generation member getting into the family business, it’s essential to absorb all the knowledge and experiences shared by previous generations. These hard yards are crucial for understanding how the business works and where improvements can be made. It’s important to put in the effort in the initial years, as this groundwork will help in pushing new ideas or plans to the family later.

When presenting a plan, it’s essential to ensure it is fool-proof and covers all possible shortcomings. Not every plan will be successful, but having a well-thought-out plan will increase the chances of success. It’s important to understand that there may be setbacks along the way, but with determination and and hard work, success can be achieved.

Waman Hari Pethe Jewellers store in R-City Mall, Ghatkopar, Mumbai

What do you think has been the role of GIA’s education and alumni network?

During my time at GIA, I was a studious student, as I knew this was the time to get serious about my career. GIA was my stepping-stone into the gem and jewellery industry. She would often tell me about the different stones, their magic, sparkle, and colours, which piqued my interest in this field. After completing my graduation, I decided to pursue this passion and enrolled myself in the Gemological Institute of America GIA in 2014.

During my time at GIA, I was a studious student, as I knew this was the time to get serious about my career. GIA was my stepping-stone into the gem and jewellery industry. The Institute taught me everything from diamonds to coloured stones, and the practical knowledge I gained from there was invaluable to me.

Later, I joined my family business, and my newfound knowledge from GIA proved to be helpful. Clients are often impressed when they learn that you are a GIA Graduate Gemologist, and it did help in closing sales. GIA is the top institute in the field, and its credential holds a lot of value.

Excerpts taken from GIA India’s Legacy of Leadership Knowledge Series interview conducted live on Zoom. Attendance by invitation only. Register on collective.GIA.edu as a GIA alumni to get notified about upcoming events.

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