Updated on 6 March 2013
My Dad, who passed away in the midst of my busiest period setting up Acumen. He had a relapse of stroke. He was an entrepreneur himself and built a successful company; he started a construction company soon after my youngest brother was born as his salary was just barely enough for the family with 4 children. I saw as a child how hard he worked, many times I did not get to see him the whole week until the weekend. When he succeeded, he still worked hard and had always been a very generous boss to his staff and a very well-respected person in the industry. His courage, resilience, leadership by example and generosity are values his children constantly see since young. To be successful sustainably, we need to have the coupled values of humility and audacity, listening and leadership, respect and integrity, accountability and generosity.
I cook for the family, read broadly online & meet friends over meals. I also do some community work eg. I set up a Science Camp for children from families with income below socio-economic norm, in partneship with charitable organizations. We enable these children opportunity to learn Science through experiments & educational trips during a 2-day day camp during school vacations. A career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) is not easy to begin with, whether for men or women, because first it requires very intense training for a prolonged period of time (most people complete formal training between 30-35 years old). Secondly, whether academic or industry, it tends to be highly competitive, academics need to publish & secure grants, industrialists need to develop technologies & sell products. But one really needs to maintain a balance, sometimes hard but it is important, because at the end of the day, our life is not sustainable only on scientific pursuits or business.
Our life also includes family, friends, community & personal space that we must cultivate with quality time & efforts too. One thing I learn is to set priorities set & plan accordingly, and be flexible about the plans when we need to be; seek the necessary understanding and support from people around us; and accept that we cannot have everything all at the same time. Our professional-personal life balance has daily as well as long-term components.
If you feel the calling, do step forward; because this is a highly complex & dynamic industry traditionally led by men, but I think in almost all aspects of the business there are some natural talents innate to women that complement those of men for greater success. Acumen is still a young company and I still need to spend a lot of time on it; in these 1-2 years, I will be expanding the team to help grow the company so that it will sustainably create value through innovative products that improve lives, excellent R&D services that advance innovation, commercial success, and meaningful careers for employees. I will also continue with the lecturing role, I truly think we learn from teaching others as much as from being taught.
(As told to Amrita Tejasvi)