Updated on 5 March 2013
I have been with IKP from the first day of its operations. For the first few months, I was overseeing the project from ICICI. Then, I joined it as the CEO from August 1, 2001. A research park was a new concept in India, and I knew that I had to set the benchmarks and develop a strategy to build a sustainable and profitable organization, while maintaining the not-for-profit innovation ecosystem development agenda. That too in the life sciences sector. I think we have been fairly successful and worked with over 72 companies directly and many more indirectly, and have built an innovation ecosystem with companies as large as DuPont and US Pharmacoepia and as tiny as one-or-two person start-ups. This, I feel, has been my contribution to IKP and the science park and incubation movement in India.
Mr Vaghul is one of my role models. He played a significant role in the way he built ICICI as a value-based organization and envisioned the creation of institutions such as Crisil, the first Indian VC (TDICI/ICICI Venture), Institute for Financial Management and Research, IKP, Pratham and others in India, his philosophy and attitude towards life, and, last but not the least, the way he has guided me in my role as the MD & CEO through examples and anecdotes. I have heard people ask him at forums how ICICI has so many women leaders. To this, Mr Vaghul always said, "I simply looked at merit and not gender or any other criterion to judge performance."
The person behind the public face
I enjoy reading, but I am don't get enough time. I cherish those evenings when I am able to spend time with my husband, talking about books he is reading. At times, he reads aloud excerpts from those books and we discuss them. I love music and watch a lot of world cinema. I can watch a Satyajit Ray or Ingmar Bergman or Francoise Truffaut film any time. College environment played a major role in shaping my interests in art, world cinema and classical music.
I have an extremely understanding and a supporting husband. So, it does not seem so difficult to me. But all said and done, it is fine as long as you don't worry too much about what people say and go by what you think needs to be done. Whether we have been able to create something of lasting value at IKP Knowledge Park is for posterity to decide, but I am proud and happy to be part of the creative process and am thoroughly enjoying the journey. Every day comes with new ideas and excitement and the myriad possibilities of being able to contribute to the development of the society makes me push for more.
Message to women
To the young women in the field, I would say that open up your mind, think big and embrace the world with its infinite beauty. Enjoy whatever you do and keep yourself engaged. It's important to perform consistently.
(As told to Vipul Murarka)