Piyasree Dasgupta profiles the 27-year-old woman who is in the business of image makeover
If measuring words had never been your forte,the soft-spoken Parvana Babaycon,makes for quite a jaw-dropping experience. She doesnt speak a word more than necessary,listens to you with absolute patience,shes least likely to yawn even once even if you go on blabbering about things that dont interest her vaguely. The composure,which is probably the need of all professionals today and also a rarity in these spiraling work pressure days,is Bobaycons trademark.
This comes with confidence,about yourself,about work, says Babaycon. The 27-year-old should know it well,since she left a cushy job with an MNC just to make sure that people get back the confidence that they had lost somewhere in the pursuit of work,studies etc.
And Optimum Image Institute,Babaycons baby,came into existence in 2008. The concept of image consultancy is still in a very nascent stage in India,and Kolkata,especially, says Babycon. Her work involves giving her clients a visual makeover,speech training,personality grooming and also counseling them to improve their presentation. Babaycon,who studied behavioral sciences in the University of Maine,USA,returned India and joined the PriceWaterHouse Coopers.
There wasnt much of an employee exchange cell then and I was handling the department where employees from Kolkata were sent to the US and vice-versa, says Babaycon. It was then that she realised how several talented people failed to exploit their opportunities due to lack of presentation capabilities.
Soon thereafter,Babaycon decided to take up image consultancy seriously. She is a certified Image and Professional Development Consultant with internationally known London Image Institute and Academy of Imageworks Asia and is an associate member of the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI). Currently,she is a part of the VP Communications team,International Board of AICI.
It wasnt all that easy to give up a well-paid job for something which was in its infancy in Kolkata.
If I was thinking about finances,then this wasnt a feasible idea at all, smiles Babaycon. Not only was giving up on the assurance of a job difficult,but the courses she took were extremely upstreet ones. But I went ahead nevertheless. My parents did want me to give it a second thought,but supported me all through, she recollects.
The idea of image consultancy is still sinking in. The most difficult part of my job,is to get people to address their drawbacks and seek professional help for that, says Babaycon. However,things are slowly looking up. From lawyers,and doctors to entrepreneurs and teachers,all have come in for consultancy, she says.
I particularly remember the case of this teacher from a reputed Kolkata college,who was losing out on opportunities overseas. She had an excellent body of work,but was lacking in presentation skills, she adds. It was then she came to Babaycon and from her appearance to her speech,everything went for a makeover. There had been no looking back ever since.
Most professionals dont know how to dress according to their sphere of work. Again,conversational skills are missing, says Babaycon.
I usually stress on visual appearance,verbal communication and non-verbal communication. For the first,I get stylists and beauty experts to help a client and for the rest I have a line-up of exercises, she adds. For example,she conducts a breathing exercise with her clients that soothes the nerves and also helps you modulate your voice volume for formal conversation. From the staff at a posh ayurvedic spa to lawyers and executives,Babaycons clientele is on the rise.
I get corporate bookings too where companies send their employees for training as I stress on the formation of an individual brand exclusive to the person, says Babaycon. I just hope that people get more candid about seeking help rather than doing it in a hush-hush manner, she signs off.