Shylaja Uday

Managing Director
Schefferville Trading L.L.C

Where most people see a risk, Shylaja Uday sees an opportunity. What is generally considered a disadvantage, she turns into an asset. As the Managing Director of Schefferville Trading L.L.C., one of UAE’s leading manufacturers and wholesalers of Personal  Protective Clothing and Equipment, for nearly 16 years, she  is one of the successful female entrepreneurs in the construction and safety industry that is dominated by men.

Being in the industry for more than a decade, she is a seasoned expert when it comes to coming up with innovative  technology and quality products that help mitigate risks in the construction sites and exponentially increase safety in the workplace. 

What do you do? How did you get to where you are today and what drove you to success? 

I am the Managing Director of Schefferville Trading L.L.C., one of the leading manufacturers and traders of personal protective equipment.

Schefferville Trading L. L. C. was started with the vision of providing quality safety and workwear to those employed in the construction and engineering & manufacturing sector. We designed and created Schefferville’s own brands like Eyevex, Oryx, Hunk and countless others, without banking on the huge brands, and we are happy to say that we hold good brand equity in the industry. After getting married, I moved to the UAE after a brief stint in Oman and started learning more about the market here. I spent my initial years in the country working in marketing and later in the banking sector. In 2001, my husband and I conjured up the idea to venture into something of our own, and with the knowledge my husband had on the safety industry; I decided to follow the path. Thus, the idea of Schefferville Trading L.L.C. was finally born. From a humble beginning with a business turnover of  less than 1 million per year, through hard work and determination & the support of  my husband, I have been able to grow the company into a higher revenue-yielding, leading PPE provider in the Middle East. To get where I am today, I always followed my conscience; that is, be curious, seek perspective from others, be kind, and work hard to drive results and build meaningful relationships. I have learned that the combination of curiosity, resilience and purpose-filled passion is an unstoppable formula for success.

What brings you joy?

What brings me joy every single day is getting the chance to watch people grow and develop in their jobs, life and their decisions. Whether it be my employers, my clients or my own family, it gives me immense pleasure to see that the people in and around my life are growing successful and happy and learning from their past to be a better version of themselves. 

What would you tell a young graduate today? 

I see a lot of young graduates  putting in unnecessary and countless hours of work into their jobs because it’s always been told to them that they’re young and they will recover; and this advice more often than once, causes them to burnout faster. While this is definitely the time to work, network, develop a strong work ethic, and try out different paths without long term career consequences, it is also the time to figure out what keeps you sane. The more you climb any ladder (corporate or entrepreneurial), the more responsibilities you will have, the more people who will count on you, and the less time to focus on your needs. This is why it is important to figure out what you enjoy doing. Whether it’s reading, meditation, exercise, a hobby or just making sure you take some time outside, I promise that the reasonable time used to unwind can only enhance your quality of life. 

I would also advise that they approach everything in their life with honesty and integrity. Though you may feel like it can put you at a disadvantage in certain cases, in the long run, you will surely move much ahead of your competitors when you do your work while being sincere and forthright. 

Why is the UAE a great place for women to succeed? 

The UAE is known as the land of opportunities, and many female entrepreneurs make their decision to start a business here after noticing a gap for a specific service demand and supply in the market. The UAE is a fast-growing country with a strong economy, so getting ahead in business can often be easier here than elsewhere in the world. There are many opportunities available to women with an entrepreneurial vision, and the SME landscape has evolved to a state that makes starting your own business a lot more accessible.

With the number of initiatives by the government of UAE aimed to help women, like the UAE Gender Balance Council and other other organisations that have been very supportive in encouraging a modern entrepreneurial spirit, such as Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, The Female Network and Dubai Women’s Business Council, there are plenty of options for female entrepreneurs looking to make their mark in this part of the world. The rise of co-working spaces available across the Emirates and the access to both online and in-person freelance talent means that new business owners no longer have to worry about the hassle of hiring staff and renting office space when they’re not quite in the financial position to do so.