Meet Sukhi Jutla, a multi-award-winning entrepreneur and author of 3 books, co-founder of MarketOrders, an online B2B platform for the gold and diamond jewellery industry. She is a leading international speaker, influencer, and thought leader in tech. Awarded by Asian Women of Achievement Awards, Management Todays ’35 Women Under 35′ and named a Top 100 European Digital Pioneer by The Financial Times and Google.
Who is Sukhi Jutla? Define yourself
With the time I have grown to understand that I am an evolving person and that we change over time depending on external influences and the values that are important to you. When I was younger I fell into the corporate rat race where I defined success as a high powered job in the city of London grinding it out with 15 hours’ world days. Today I no longer resonate with that image but now define myself as someone who is on a journey to do meaningful work and is a seeker of knowledge to find my greater purpose in life.
How were you as a kid?
I always had a book in my hand and spent a lot of time in the library reading. I was and am still fascinated by books and what you can learn from them and spending all that time in my local library instilled a great love of learning and reading. I enjoyed school and did well in tests and was usually top of my class so I was a bit of an overachiever and yes...I was the one who always completed the extra homework too!
“No matter which stage of life or business you are in, there will always be other people that you can learn from and those who you can help. Ultimately it comes down to a mindset of growth and learning from your peers and this also can create a great support network “
You have a Bachelor of Science (BSc) at Royal Holloway, University of London, why did you choose those courses of study?
I originally aspired to be a doctor but it didn’t work out so I fell into this course as one of my A levels was in Business Studies. I was interested in how businesses were created and what it took to become a world-class business. A business has so many moving parts and most of the time we focus only on the external skills needed such as a marketing strategy or financial planning. But having run several businesses today I can tell for sure that these skills are not as important as the skills needed to develop self-awareness and leadership to help you cope with the roller coaster ride of running and building a business. Coming back to my choice of university, I chose RHUL as it was one of the first universities in the UK to admit women to study so that was quite special to me, knowing that women were allowed to study and learn and could attend higher education.
You have a lot of experience working in the FX Product Control Analyst at Citi Bank, Senior Management Consultant at CAPCO, Senior Project Manager at Barclays Investment Bank, Management Consultant at Deutsche Bank among others, how did you jump from that point to found Market Orders?
Graduating from university, I thought all I ever wanted to be a high powered role in the City working in finance but they do say be careful what you wish for because I go the role I desperately wanted but very soon afterward (around 1 month into the job) I realized I was not working in an area I enjoyed and that was because my skills weren’t suited to this type of work. Working in finance I found it very monotonous with a lot of rules and regulations and not much space for innovation or creativity. So as I moved jobs from one company to another thinking I would enjoy the other jobs, I finally discovered I was in the wrong line of work!
As As a result, I started tinkering around with several different business ideas after work and over the weekends whilst I worked the day job. I also met my co-founder during this time and agreed to help him with some of his side projects which were in the jewelry industry. This is how I started to learn about the gold and diamond jewelry trade business and we ran 2 businesses in this field working as international wholesalers. However, we struggled to scale the business and were self-funding everything and couldn’t get it profitable in a sustainable way. That is when we discovered by introducing technology in our business we could get greater economies of scale and run the business operations with greater levels of efficiency and that is how Market Orders was born.
“Life is only worth living if you are ultimately spending your most precious resource (your time) in a way that inspires and fulfills you”
Talking about MarketOrders, can you in simple words explain what the company is about and what does it make unique?
MarketOrders is an online global marketplace for the gold and diamond jewelry trade industry and we are developing a platform-based marketplace and provenance chain specifically focused on helping retailers source the gold products they need more efficiently and at better prices, turning the traditional gold jewelry supply chain model upside down by digitizing every element of the customer journey.
For the first time, retailers can order, pay, and have their items delivered securely online. Over 90% of small, independent jewelers have limited or no online presence and less than 5% of the major suppliers have online capabilities that allow their customers to order, purchase, and track products. The industry is old fashioned and lagging. Most retailers wait for a wholesale salesperson or distributor to visit them in-store, to see the product range and place an order. Digitizing every aspect of this supply chain creates scalable efficiencies throughout the entire operational process. MarketOrders provides an online and seamless end-to-end the transaction process for all retailers, suppliers, and manufacturers.
You are a very busy woman and I see you, participating in different organizations: Board Member to the Mayor of London’s Digital Skills Partnership, Brand Ambassador & Mentor at Department for International Trade (DIT). Advisory Board Member at Haymarket Media US, Ambassador at Women of the Future Program, what does it drive you?
Doing work that inspires me and makes a meaningful difference is what drives me on a daily basis. Contributing to boards and being a part of the conversation enables me to be the voice of women from BAME backgrounds to share our learnings and contribute to the wider discussion and shape the future of tomorrow. Being an Ambassador also helps to shine the spotlight on the amazing things women in the UK tech scene are doing and this can inspire the next generation of tech talent by being role models for them.
No matter which stage of life or business you are in, there will always be other people that you can learn from (who are a few steps ahead of you) and those who you can help (as you are a few steps ahead of them). Ultimately it comes down to a mindset of growth and learning from your peers and this also can create a great support network for you as you navigate challenges and obstacles. It’s also a great way to give back when you can mentor someone else as you also learn a lot from the mentee.
You have won numerous awards, including Asian Women of Achievement, Female Entrepreneur of the Year, and named Top 100 European Digital Pioneer by The Financial Times and Google. Your company has won many awards itself, you are a regular media commentator on tech, block chain, digital disruption, and work-life balance, what´s the recipe for your success?
I used to think the balance was what I should strive for. Now I know that the correct word (for me at least) is ‘integration’. When you thrive and flourish based on what you do, your work energizes you and that is how I feel. My entire life is in sync with what I value and want to create and so work and life co-exist beautifully together.
I feel excited to work on MarketOrders every day and often the line between ‘work’ and ‘life’ gets blurry. For me, the key to getting a sense of balance is to ensure you give yourself time to rest and recuperate. We are not robots and do need to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. My tagline is ‘work till I need to rest and rest until I feel I need to work’. And I know it may be an overused cliché but when you truly love what you do, you don’t have to work a day of your life and that is how I feel.
“Running a business can take a lot of your energy and effort so it's important that you are in the best shape so you can give your best to the business and make good quality decisions”
In your facet as an author, you became the World’s First #1 Bestselling’ Blockchain’ Author, tell us more about your 3 books: Escape The Cubicle: Quit The Job You Hate, Create A Life You Love, Authors and The Blockchain and The FinTech Book, tell us more about it.
I wrote two books on the topic of blockchain technology; ‘’The Fintech book’’ and ‘’Blockchain for authors’’. Ironically it was my self-help career book, ‘’Escape The Cubicle: Quit the Job You Hate, create a Life You Love’, that was published using a blockchain. This was revolutionary as it meant I could now sell my books directly to readers and get paid instantly rather than go through publishers who are middlemen who often add layers of inefficiency into the process and can take up to 3-6 months to make royalty payments compared to payments on the blockchain that can take seconds to settle.
In your opinion, what are the reasons girls don't want to study careers in STEM? What we should do as a society to change that fact?
I did notice in banking there weren't many women at the top levels but this motivated me to work harder to reach those levels. I made a decision that my gender would not be negative and I believed that anyone could do anything as long as they worked hard. What I love about working in tech is that technology is inherently a democratizing tool. Anyone around the world can now be a business owner if they have access to the internet and a smartphone and I think if you focus on what you love doing and believe in yourself, nothing should stop you.
Tech does have an image problem in that most people think you need to be a coder or programmer to work within technology but this is certainly not the case. Technology is a collaboration of art, design, and creativity to create solutions to problems and that means there are so many different routes into this field such as social media, graphic design, and project management. I used to be a business analyst and project manager and I took all those skills and applied it to my tech startup. Don’t forget that you can also re-train and upskill at any time in your life. For example, I upskilled by training as an IBM blockchain developer to help me understand blockchain technology and how I could apply it to MarketOrders.
What does a normal workday look like for you?
The first two hours of the morning are “me time”. I’ll meditate, read positive affirmations, and write a journal, which is a brain vomit. Then I’ll jot down my three work priorities on a post-it note and focus on getting them done. Emails are such a distraction so I only check them twice a day. Without fail, I go to the gym at lunchtime, alternating weights and cardio. I also factor in 30 minutes a day for my development learning and my favorite podcasts are Infinite Potential by Deepak Chopra, Emergence by Derek Rydall and Impact Theory by Tom Bilyeu, and I’m currently reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
What do you love most about your job in MarketOrders? & what is the most difficult part?
I love that every day is a new challenge. I learn something every day. I find the tech development equally exciting and the way we are disrupting an outdated industry. The difficult part is that when running a business there will always be things you come across you have not faced before so you need to be good at making quality decisions fast and troubleshooting most of the time. It's vital to have a solution-focused mindset.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow in your professional ladder?
Be open and follow your interests and curiosity. You may not know where that particular skill may lead you, but you need to trust that if you enjoy learning about something, you will become good at it. Life is only worth living if you are ultimately spending your most precious resource (your time) in a way that inspires and fulfills you. I wish I’d dared to start my entrepreneurial journey sooner but fell into banking as I thought it was the ‘sensible’ thing to do.
What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else does?
Having a consistent self-care routine which consists of meditation, exercise and good quality sleep to ensure I am in the the best shape physically, mentally and emotionally as that is the only way you can give your best on the job. Running a business can take a lot of your energy and effort so it's important that you are in the best shape so you can give your best to the business and make good quality decisions.
What situation marked your life in a way that prompted you to be who you are today?
2014 was a tough year. My uncle, my dad, and my grandma passed away within three months of each other so it felt like our family was ripped apart. Losing my dad was especially heartbreaking as he was my biggest champion. He was always saying that he couldn’t wait to retire at 60 but he died from a heart attack at 59. That made me rethink my own life. I trained to be a life coach and I started an “escape fund”: I sold my car and expensive clothes, I stopped going out for expensive meals and I downsized my house so I eventually had enough money to leave the corporate world and focus on MarketOrders.
“I personally believe that if you want to achieve something then you should be willing to put in the work to achieve it even if that, unfortunately, means having to work 10x harder than someone else”
Everybody has had dark moments in their lives, what have you done to get out of that phase?
I read Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers and I can’t think of a better way to live your life. It inspires me to keep moving forward. I always find a lot of comfort and inspiration from books so a bit of inspirational reading helps me during difficult times.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I I love to read and go for long walks. Spending time with people who inspire and energies I am also great to do.
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, a blossoming family life and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves if they believe they can have it all, I don´t know if you are married and have kids, so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
I think all too often we put too many unrealistic expectations upon ourselves self and this is a form of external validation. If we do what the status quo demands, then we ‘fit in’ and get the approval of others. It takes real courage to step away from the status quo and walk your path no matter what it looks like.
We all must live a life that fulfils us and that means we will all have lives that look different and that is OK! What's most important for women is to strive to create a life that makes you happy. That could either be having kids and raising them or focusing on a career that makes you happy...or both! Having it all is a very subjective phrase and means different things to different people so create the life YOU want, not the one society dictates you SHOULD have!
What are your plans for the future?
I still feel very much as though I am early in my career. I have much to learn and my focus remains on cultivating a brilliant team, building MarketOrders into a billion-dollar enterprise, and bringing more transparency into the industry. And of course, doing what I love every day as life is too short to spend your time on things you don’t love.
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented with the glass ceiling? If yes, what are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
I personally believe that if you want to achieve something then you should be willing to put in the work to achieve it even if that, unfortunately, means having to work 10x harder than someone else. You can either complain about the situation or you can become the change you want to see. It took me 2 years to raise my seed round to fund my business. The normal convention stated you should be able to raise in 3 months so it took me far longer and much more effort but I'm not complaining because I know I can outwork anyone in the room. The world is filled with inequalities unfortunately but I chose not to focus on that and instead focus on what I can change as that attitude puts the power back into my hands. One of my favorite quotes by Jim Rohn, I often refer to when things are tough is ‘“Don't wish it was easier to wish you were better. Don't wish for fewer problems wish for more skills. Don't wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom”
“I do believe the tech industry is a unique field where what you create and build is more important than who you are. In this sense, tech has the ability to transcend many barriers and provides opportunities to generate enormous wealth for those who can build products the world needs”
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to become an entrepreneur like you?
I do believe the tech industry is a unique field where what you create and build is more important than who you are. In this sense, tech can transcend many barriers and provides opportunities to generate enormous wealth for those who can build products the world needs.
What I feel is needed is for the tech industry to showcase the variety of different roles the industry has to offer as most people seem to think that if they are not programmers, there is no space for them. Building technology requires a variety of different skills, from arts to data analysis, and these are all fields women excel in. Nobody should be afraid of building their own tech company or working for one.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are, and what you do (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Sukhi, and what´s not?
I would simply say that ‘being Sukhi’ is living in alignment with the values that are important to me - wellbeing, doing work that is meaningful and living with a sense of purpose. ‘Not being Sukhi’ is being stuck in a cubicle working 9-5 doing work I don't like!
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
My grandmother. She made the most out of very little and was always so creative and resourceful and never complained. She just found solutions. I always remember a story my dad told me about my grandmother. When she was short on cash she would sell the only item she owned- an old radio and use the proceeds to buy flour to make chapattis for her 6 kids. Then when she able to make some money from small odd jobs she would save it up to buy back the radio so that my dad and his siblings could listen to songs on it. And she did this repeatedly just to ensure there was food on the table. That is what I call resilience and persistence.
Something else do you want to add or Share with us?
Owning a startup comes with a lot of responsibility. You are accountable for others’ careers, their livelihoods, and wellbeing. As a founder, you are required to be several different roles at the start; you are the legal team, marketing team, and finance team, and it can get overwhelming. In the early days, this often caused me to burn out. If I could go back, I would advise myself to enjoy the journey and the process. It’s important to acknowledge that it can be very difficult to accomplish great success, but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. Remember to give yourself a break, savor every achievement whether it is big or small, and enjoy the journey.
Name: Sukhi Jutla
Sector: Ecommerce Jewelry & Blockchain Tech
Designation: Co-Founder & COO
Country: United Kingdom