Sonya Hooja COO and Co-founder Imarticus

Sonya Hooja, COO and Co-founder, Imarticus – “I think women lack confidence”

In a one on one with DQ Channels Sonya Hooja, COO and Co-founder, Imarticus shares her Journey to success as a women entrepreneur in education

The challenges of being a woman executive in a top role

Most of the businesses (over 70% globally) are run by men, and 98% of Fortune 500 companies have only men in leadership positions. In India, those numbers are much higher.

The main challenge for a woman in a leadership position is two-fold. One, in many times, strategic business relationships are built outside the office environment via networking and other industry events.

In general, that poses a challenge for a woman to easily connect to her male peer in an outside office setting. Second, I think women lack confidence and that’s a lot due to an unconscious bias.

Women leaders are disadvantaged because people tend to doubt that they possess the skills and traits required for entrepreneurship and leadership. They lack the confidence required to walk down a less trodden path, where they may be surrounded by mostly men, who may be more dominant by their inherent personalities.

Educational Background

Bachelors in Economics from Rutgers University, USA and MBA from INSEAD, Fontainebleau.

Family Background

I belong to a nuclear family, with an older brother, who currently is the co-founder of Imarticus, Nikhil Barshikar

Working in Male-dominated field of IT

Challenging. Need to be consistently on point to prove yourself to your male colleagues.

Does a Glass ceiling exist?

The career graph and the family graph is in total conflict with each other. During in late 20’s and early 30th, where most men focus on careers, women usually take a break for a few years. This invariably hurts in a long run, where their male colleagues surpass them in pay grades, responsibilities and career progression.

There is also an issue of expectation and opportunity. In any household, men expect their careers to take precedence over their spouses’ careers, and that their spouses would handle more of the childcare.

This then also translates into the lack of opportunity that is provided to a woman who may get passed over for high-profile and demanding assignments or removed from strategic projects; in the event that they may eventually need flexible arrangements to manage their households or may not be able to keep up to a high-pressure work environment.

Due to which, I think the glass ceiling certainly still prevails. However, I think its slowing breaking due to many factors – from the change in cultural norms where household responsibilities are shared equally, and also a conscious effort by the industry to onboard women in their top ranks.


Oil Painting, Swimming and Reading Historical Fiction Novels

Future plan

I plan to build Imarticus Learning, the company that I co-founded with Nikhil Barshikar, to a leading global Financial Services and Analytics professional education firm. That is the singular mission that I carry for the next five years!

  • Your Fitness Mantra:

I swim two times a week and hit the gym two times a week.

  • Your De-stressing Mantra:

Shopping, Swimming, Reading, Playing with Samar, my one-year-old son!

  • Where you like to shop?:

Mainly online. I like exploring emerging Indian and Global designers

  • Your favourite holiday destination: Paris
  • 5 things you cannot live without:

Beyond the essentials of food and shelter, and not in order – My Family, a Credit Card, Coffee, a Book and my Laptop!


  • Wake up at 7:00 am
  • Morning activities: Morning tea with my husband out on the deck, along with all the newsprint of the day. Post which, I organize the household activities and eat a healthy breakfast. A good hour or two is spent with my son, where we read books and play with his latest toys!
  • Leave For Office at 10 am
  • Ist half in office: Usually heads down work, where I catch up on my emails, and individual projects/initiatives as well as plan for the day and the week ahead. • Lunch: A working lunch, on my desk
  • Post Lunch: Review meetings with all the department heads on the week gone by, and the plan ahead. I make it a point to touch base with every department once a week.
  • How you spend your evenings: Four times a week, I go to the gym or swim. On other days, I go to the park with my son. After dinner, I do some personal errands/ work and wind up the day with some tv or reading and within 30 mins, I am asleep at 11:00 pm!

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