A Visionary Leader and An Enthusiast
Sonica Aron is a qualified coach and an experienced HR professional who is enthusiastic and passionate about diversity and inclusion. Sonica held corporate and operational leadership positions prior to launching her HR consultancy Marching Sheep. Sonica, an XLRI Jamshedpur alumna, was named one of the Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs in India in 2020 by Forbes India.
Coming from a medical family, Sonica Aron is the youngest of three siblings, and no one in her family has studied or practiced business management. Sonica has entered an entirely new world. From having medical talks at the dinner table as a youngster to now, when she and her family address social justice, gender expression, disability awareness, and inclusiveness.
Sonica, an HR veteran who has worked with organizations such as Pepsico, Roche Diagnostics, Vodafone started Marching Sheep in 2013. In 2012, she was the HR director for Philips Consumer Lifestyle. She took a year off before launching Marching Sheep, with the goal of providing genuine and effective HR interventions that benefit both businesses and employees. A journey that started as a one-woman army running out of a single city, Marching Sheep now delivers interventions and projects not only across India but also globally, has a healthy roster of clients across sectors, a solid team of HR professionals who are passionate about the work they do, and their work and opinions are frequently quoted and published in leading publications. As a
Human Resources and D&I professional, she has created one of India’s most advanced ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ frameworks, with unique programs such as Women@Work, and Diversity@Work! Her views on anxiety and burnout, motherhood penalty, unpaid work, generational diversity, and LGBT inclusion have been featured in notable newspapers such as Hindu, TOI, Business World, The Statesman, DNA, Tribune, and others. She is on the board of the ‘Gender at Work India Trust,’ an organization that actively serves society.
Sonica’s company is based on the notion of ethics. They only take projects that are within their area of expertise and work closely with the client team to set project scope, deliverables, and milestones. Sonica’s corporate experience was built on developing policies and procedures that were both sustainable and scalable, propelling enterprises to the next level of success. She began her career with Pepsi as a Management Trainee, traveling in a truck through the streets of Calcutta and learning the ins and outs of retail sales. In Karimnagar, she introduced Pepsi 200 ml. She next oversaw human resources at a bottling factory in Bazpur, a small upcountry location, where she learned the ins and outs of labor relations.
Sonica overcame several hurdles in establishing Marching Sheep. Understanding the legislative requirements that are involved in setting up a firm was one of the challenges. Some considerations had to be made, such as whether it should be an LLP, LLC, a company, or a sole proprietorship. Being bootstrapped, she created her website from scratch. She was trapped in a vicious cycle of needing to employ a team or generate income in order to attain a specific level. Sonica was responsible for everything from business development to delivery, invoicing, client engagement, and even paying her own taxes.
Business Development did not come naturally to her. She was hesitant about singing her own praises as a consultant, but it was necessary. She took her time learning this skill. Then there was the problem of managing cash flows. She gradually and steadily learned, hired, and expanded. Soon after, the client base increased, and income stabilized. However, issues including demonetization, GST implementation, and the pandemic destabilized the business. But each time the firm adapted and evolved.
Sonica says, “It’s critical to be passionate about what you do and to continue learning and evolving.” It necessitates stepping outside of your comfort zone and pushing yourself, but the benefits are exhilarating.”
Her skills that have aided her path so far include endurance, the ability to build trusting relationships with clients and partners based on trustworthiness, flexibility to changing circumstances, and a desire to always learn and improve. Sonica says she has an excellent team, which she considers to be her best asset. She has discovered the power of humility, approachability, and being available to people whenever feasible. ‘The goodwill you gain is more valuable than any reward,’ she says. She passionately believes in the power of inclusiveness and the ability of people from different backgrounds to prosper in the world. Every client she gets and works with represents a chance to make a difference, which motivates her and her team.