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International Women’s Day: On turning a childhood passion for food into an international purveyor of all things gourmet

Indoguna Production FZCO’s founder and chairman Helene Raudaschl talks to us about being a flexitarian, a foodie, and most of all, forerunner in the fine food biz.

Ever-optimistic and affable, Helene Raudaschl was born and raised in Hong Kong with her family, who have been in the business of food for over three decades. She wields that early exposure to food, and the business of food, with aplomb. In 1997, she moved to Singapore and joined the local Indoguna charter, becoming its managing director and co-owner five years later. Her pursuits in growing the business eventually led to Indoguna Productions FZCO in 2012 – a UAE-based manufacturer of premium halal food products. 

With more than a fair share of leadership under her belt, Raudaschl also happens to be a member of the Young Presidents’ Organisation, a global leadership community that unites chief executives from across the globe. All said though, what she really hopes is for a brighter, greener future – one where gourmet food and responsible food production are one and the same.

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Tell us a little about your childhood.

My mother grew up in a food family and our family was no different. From a young age, my sister & I followed my mother around the world while she pursued her passion trying different cuisines and being exposed to different food cultures including French, Italian, Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese. 

In addition to travel, my mother was responsible for a company back in the 70’s and 80’s that imported some of the best ingredients into Hong Kong. The company brought in products like truffles, caviar, French and Italian cheeses and foie gras to name a few. We were well exposed to diverse international produce and fine dining etiquette when eating at the restaurant partners. 

And how did fine produce and table manners lead to Indoguna?

My passion for entrepreneurship and global business gave me the inspiration to take on what my mother has done all her life. I love cooking as a personal hobby – but not as a career. Where I am today gives me the chance to discuss food culture with global food producers, farmers, manufacturers, and so on, as well as creating products that make our customers smile. And that’s what I love.

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While doing what you love, how has being a woman helped or harmed you?

It is never easy being a woman in a men’s industry. That said, I’ve never stopped to think about it. Leadership is all about the attitude, and not the gender. Having the right knowledge and skills will win customers over and keep them coming back. Women are more than capable of that – and have already been doing so across industries worldwide, and will be doing so in the future for years to come.

 How, then, have you used your knowledge in what you do?

We’re all about sustainability at Indoguna. I myself am a passionate flexitarian (a plant-forward diet that eschews meat whenever possible) and determined to spend the rest of my career promoting the benefits of a flexitarian lifestyle.

To that end, I’ve recently created a brand-new line of meat substitute vegan meals called Arlene. In the Arlene community, we’re committed to educating people on the vast benefits of being a flexitarian, both to your personal health and the planet.

We are also constantly working with our global partners to source sustainable products. For example, our company has been granted certification from the Marine Stewardship Council for the sustainable catching and dealing of seafood.

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Does that extend to incorporating tech as well?

Without a doubt, continual innovations in technology at Indoguna have improved efficiency and production volumes. However, making what we make takes skill. Some processes demand respect for tradition. That’s why we make food the way they’ve always been made – hence the originality and honesty of our products. 

To end off, maybe you could tell us more about your plans for the future.

For now, I’ll be focusing on building Arlene and its promise to my customers. And since I’m already a flexitarian, I’ll make it my life’s mission to promote Arlene’s lifestyle continuously. I want to see people’s lives improving through their diets and eating habits, as well as convince people that it’s worth doing a little more for our planet. If everyone can take baby steps to live more sustainably, Mother Earth will benefit greatly. Those wishing to join the Arlene community may do so by the second quarter of 2021, when our range of products hits the shelves. I’m also planning a chain of consumer-facing stores to cater to those looking for access to a delicious, and affordable, vegan meal.