Ritu Sethi credits her story of success to hard work, dedication, luck, and meeting the right people at the right time.
There were very few women lawyers – especially Asian women with young children – when she qualified as a lawyer in 1990. Ritu admits she found the early days far from easy. While establishing her own law practice, the doting mother of two juggled raising her young children with the support of her husband, Sudhir and her ‘priceless’ nanny, Kishwar.
“The early years were traumatic. My children were just two and six months and we had a series of short term nannies. I could not have done what I did without the support structure around us. However, even with that support, I made it a rule that once I was home the phone was off and all attention was on my children Avinash and Nikhita.
Before setting up The Sethi Partnership Solicitors, Ritu was in a three-partner law practice, but tragically one of her business partners died suddenly of a heart attack in 1994, while the other had racked up mounting debts for which Ritu, as a partner, was jointly liable.
“When I left the firm, the creditors were knocking on my door to the tune of approximately £400,000. I spent the first three years paying off the debts of my previous partners, before I could breathe again and then start all over again.”
Ritu’s fierce ‘go get it’ approach is detailed in her book ‘Having it all Now: An Inspirational Journey to Becoming a Superwoman’. She says she discovered very early on in her career that there were very few business orientated self-improvement strategies to help women succeed in male dominated fields. “I had struggled in the early years to establish the practice as well as raise our two children. So much so that I have repeatedly been asked to share the stories,” she says. “I thought it best to write about it so the process was converted from my mind onto paper and then into a book. Writing the book was a therapeutic journey for me. It was my release of emotions and experience.”
For Ritu, the reward is in hearing how others have benefitted from the book and how they are inspired to improve their own situations.
Due to the longevity of her career, Ritu is regularly approached for her advice on the viability of new businesses. “I can usually tell within 15 minutes if a new business is going to last,” she says. “I mentor people running businesses who need some professional and objective guidance and often call upon my diverse network of professional and personal friends. I can usually find a solution to their predicament. I’m also regularly approached to offer advice to established business owners who want an exit route.”
It’s hard to gauge how Ritu remains motivated and focused while diversifying so much. As well as running her firm, mentoring new and existing businesses, she writes regularly for the legal industry press, and manages a property portfolio with her husband Sudhir. She also practices yoga and meditation and is a fully trained fitness instructor.
“It is such a natural process for me to keep growing, keep developing, keep learning new things, that it’s only when someone tells you or you stop to reflect do you feel any sense of achievement. Otherwise, there is always more to strive for and every day is another opportunity to do this.”
“I don’t view my work as a chore, but a passion,” she says. “Every day is different. I enjoy my time at the office but when I’m home, or out socialising, or in the gym exercising, I remind myself to be in the moment. It’s important to never forget the importance of the moment because it can never be repeated.
To achieve steps to success, Ritu suggests writing down your goals. “Do this every year and re-visit them during the year regularly to make sure everything you do moves you closer to your ultimate goal.”
“Establish what makes YOU happy; then slice the sections of your life like a pie and think about the ones which mean the most to you.”
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