Although Neha Hiranandani’s parents would have preferred their daughter to pursue a professional course, the real estate heiress opted for the liberal arts—religious studies with a focus on Catholicism and foreign affairs— from the University of Virginia. She dropped out of the course in the second year, and ended up graduating in commerce from the same university in 2007. In 2010, she got a law degree from Mumbai’s Government Law College and began working with Ameet Naik, the founding partner of Naik Naik and Co.

That went on until 2008, when father Surendra Hiranandani convinced her to join the family business.

It wasn’t a great time for the industry—Indian property developers were feeling the pinch of the global financial crisis, with BSE Ltd’s Realty Index plunging 82% as investors rushed to sell real estate stocks.

But navigating through hard times was possibly the best learning ground for a newcomer to the industry. As director at the House of Hiranandani, the 27-year-old now handles most of the management functions of the company. She takes after her father when it comes to her style of functioning and has learnt to be objective and methodical, but maintains an open policy as Hiranandani believes that the best ideas come from the lower rung.

She’s keen on holding on to the group’s “lifestyle offering" principle by being more than just a builder and marketer of homes and offices. She also focuses on the quality of educational institutions that are set up in Hiranandani’s residential townships, including offering places in the schools to children who reside outside such projects.

Given the speed at which groundwater is being sucked out by rapid development in the cities, Hiranandani is exploring the prospect of desalination plants for the group’s project in water-scarce Chennai.

Away from work, Hiranandani is keen on the outdoors and likes to ski, hike and travel.