Prof. Chugh has a broad-based experience in coal industry, and teaching, research, and administration. Recently, he was invited to serve on a highly prestigious international task force "Sustainable Use of Coal in China" under the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) umbrella.
Yogesh K. Upadhyaya from Chronicle took the opportunity to interview him for his teaching and research work:
(Prof. Y. Paul Chugh)
To view his bio-data, please click hereCHUGH_Full_CV.pdf
Q-1: Welcome, Sir. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I was born in a large, humble, middle-class family in Multan (now in Pakistan) on October 6, 1940. My father served in railways as a civil servant. My childhood education was in local schools. We moved to India during the partition period (1946-47). My father’s first assignment in India was in 1948 at Solan Brewery (Himachal Pradesh) as Station Master. Thereafter, he was moved to serve different locations every two to three years. So, my early education was in different locations such as Solan Brewery, Kalka, Subzimandi, etc. I graduated High School in 1955 from Lahore Montessori School in Delhi. I completed my intermediate college education from Camp College, Delhi in 1957 and was then selected to join College of Mining and Metallurgy at BHU to pursue mining engineering curriculum. After leaving BHU in 1961, I worked for coal industry in India for Andrew Yule Coal Company as a post-graduate trainee and as an assistant manager at Girmint Colliery. Then I joined a small company as an assistant manager to start preparing for first class mine manager’s certificate of competency. I taught for one year as an instructor at BHU before leaving for USA in summer 1965. I graduated with my MS and PhD degrees from the Pennsylvania State University in 1968, and 1971, respectively. After working in research and in coal industry for about seven years, I joined Southern Illinois University Carbondale as an Associate Professor January 1977 where I have been since then.
Q-2: Please tell us about your teaching experience at Southern Illinois University?
Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) is the second largest state-supported, comprehensive university in Illinois with over 20,000 students and 11 colleges, including School of Medicine and School of Law. The College of Engineering is a medium-size college with over 1,000 students and five departments including Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering. I joined the department as an associate professor, became full professor in 1981 and department chair in 1984. I served as Department Chair for 16 years until 2000. Since then, I have been a full professor assigned to teaching and directing research programs. During my tenure at SIUC, I have served as Technical Director- National Mine Land Reclamation Center- Midwestern Region; Director, Illinois Mining and Mineral Resources Research Institute; Director, Illinois Coal Combustion Residues Management Program; and Director, Combustion Byproducts Recycling Consortium-Midwestern Region
I would describe myself as a very broad-based experienced professional dedicated to 1) students’ learning (rather than teaching) and their future, 2) creating new knowledge to solve problems facing the discipline, mining industry, region and the country, and 3) ensuring that the created new knowledge is utilized in our industries in a timely fashion. Teaching, research, and scholarly activities have at least one thing in common—they change the way we think and do things. During my life, several principles have dawned and held: 1) Learning or “receiving teaching” implies a change in our thinking process, 2) Motivation for long-term change must fit into the mental mold of the person seeking change, and 3) Leading by example is the only way to influence others.
As an educator, my goals have been to prepare functional engineers with independent thinking, equip them with strong communication and teamwork skills and the capability of deducing solutions to problems from fundamentals. In the area of research and scholarly work, it is important to instill independent thinking skills in participants for problem solving and creativity and work closely with industry to identify both basic and applied research problems. In mineral industries (more so than other industries), good research must be relevant and timely, focused to impact industry within 5-10 years, involve feedback from industry, and incorporate health and safety issues.
My outstanding professional contributions in the education and research areas at SIU include: 1) Establishing the Department of Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering at SIU and developing it into a Center of Excellence for coal research and development and mining education; 2) Providing broad-based research leadership in the areas of applied rock mechanics and ground control, coal combustion byproducts management, alternate room–and–pillar mining geometry concepts for enhanced stability and productivity, coal mine dust control, and integration concepts for mining, processing and power plant operations; 3) Keeping research industry-focused, providing a prompt return on investment; and 4) Working collaboratively with multiple strategic partners to develop the Illinois Mining Institute into a highly professional organization for coal industry professionals in Illinois and surrounding states.
I have been very fortunate to be recognized for my contributions. My major awards include 1) SME Publication Board Award (1982-1983), 2) Distinguished Alumnus Award, Banaras Hindu University, 1984, 3) Centennial Fellow Award, Penn State University 1996, 4) Professor of the Year Award, National Stone Association, 1999, 5) Invited Speaker S.K. Bose Memorial Lecture (Highly Prestigious) at the Indian School of Mines, 2003, 6) Outstanding Department Teacher, 1984-1985, 2003, 2005; 7) Outstanding College Teacher, 1984-1985; 8) SIU College of Engineering Outstanding Scholar Award 2005, 9) Fulbright Award, 2006, 10) Outstanding College Faculty Award, 2007, 11) Illinois Mining Institute Award of Excellence for Technical Support, 2008, 12) SIU College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher Award, 13) The Rock Mechanics Award, 2009, and 12) The Howard Eavenson Award, 2009. In February 2009 I was also invited to serve on an international panel “Sustainable Use of Coal in China”.
Q-3: You are also actively involved in research work on coal
Research and scholarly work have been an integral part of my professional life, and it is something I truly enjoy. I have always enjoyed breadth in my scholarly work. My scholarly contributions span four areas: 1) Applied Rock Mechanics and Ground Control, 2) Coal Combustion Byproducts Management, 3) Dust Control in Coal Mining Face Areas, and 4) Mining Systems. Scholarly work in engineering disciplines must be supported by external agencies since they are applications oriented and areas of emphasis continually change. One must establish research credibility with funding agencies to be a broad-based scholar which is extremely difficult.
Since joining SIU in 1977, I have attracted over $ 20 million in externally funded research from federal, state and industry for projects that range from laboratory studies for basic research to commercialization of developed products. External funding has come from agencies such as U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Bureau of Mines, World Bank, State of Illinois, National Mine Land Reclamation Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Coal Review Board, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Combustion Byproducts Recycling Consortium, and coal industry.
Rock mechanics and ground control were my primary areas of specialization by training. I have always enjoyed developing one or more secondary areas of expertise consistent with the needs of industry, region and country. Some of my noteworthy achievements in each area are given below.
Applied Rock Mechanics and Ground Control : 1) Development of analysis and design techniques for partial extraction coal mining associated with weak floor conditions, 2) Conception, development, and multiple field demonstrations of alternate partial extraction mining geometries that allow 2-4% higher resource extraction, and 6-12% higher productivity, while simultaneously improving stability in mine workings, 3) Conception and commercialization of highly efficient wooden cribs “ATLAS Cribs” that are lightweight, offer less resistance to airflow, and can be designed to vary their structural stiffness. I was awarded two (2) patents for alternate roof truss systems for mine support. Two additional patents on wooden cribs and automotive brake pads are pending.
Coal Combustion Byproducts Management: 1) Developed paste-backfill technology for mine backfilling using coal combustion byproducts and coal processing wastes and pumped 47,000 tons of backfill in two Illinois mines, and 2) Developed innovative products for medium to large volume utilization of Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCBs) and received two (2) patents in the area. These included CCBs-based crib and post elements to replace similar wooden elements, and synergistic management of CCBs and coal processing waste to minimize environmental problems.
Dust Control in Coal Mining Face Areas: 1) Developed a quantitative “wettability index” for respirable coal dust to assess need for and effectiveness of surfactants, 2) Conceived a “modified continuous miner” for improved dust control and commercialized it with three miners operating currently, 3) Developed and tested an “innovative spray systems design” for continuous miners for more effective dust control, and 4) Developed a scrubber to control dust from rock dusting operation.
Mining Systems: 1) Conceived and cooperatively developed commercially viable strategies for enhanced utilization of high sulfur coal, including the concept of “Near-zero solid waste discharge” through integration of mining, processing and power plant operations, and 2) Developed technologies for recovering coal from -100 mesh materials currently being deposited in slurry ponds.
Sustainable Use of Coal in China: Over the past four months, I am heavily engaged in developing strategies for coal development and coal utilization in China that would allow economic development and not negatively impact the environment. On the supply side, we are discussing highly productive mines, coal processing for quality control and reduced transportation costs, improved coal waste management and better planning for subsided areas. On the demand side higher efficiency coal burning power plants, IGCC plants for carbon capture and storage, coal to liquids, and conservation are being debated. The renewable portfolio options and their role in overall energy strategy are also part of the discussions.
Q-4: Your advice to Mining graduates looking to involve in Mining teaching/research work?
I am glad that you ask this question. Mining Engineering as a profession has changed dramatically over the last 25 years. The need for mining engineers per unit of production will continue to decline in future. For example, USA steady-state demand for undergraduate level mining engineers is only about 150 each year. However, we need mining engineers who have broad-based education and training and are grounded in fundamentals. They should be independent thinkers with solid background in mathematics and sciences, economics, international business and management. They should have excellent communication skills and should be able to develop and market ideas.
The graduate education in mining engineering in India needs to be significantly advanced and there is a lot to learn in that area from the USA and European Union among other countries. The graduate education must be more fundamentals based rather than practice oriented. Stronger emphasis must be placed on experimental methods, statistics, numerical modeling, and inter-disciplinary research. Students should be given more freedom to develop their own study program and choose coursework across disciplines. At the graduate levels, students should be encouraged to support teaching activities.
Based on interactions with students over 30 years, I suggest two tracks for professional growth. One track is operations management where I suggest a student to get MBA degree after BS degree in mining engineering. The other track is pursuing teaching, research, policy, consulting, business, and government activities. Here I suggest getting MS and PhD degrees from the best advisors you can find to work with you. The need for graduates with inter-disciplinary training will grow in future. Just stay on the top of hot issues and pursue them as they emerge. It is a highly dynamic world and you must be as dynamic as the world is.
Q-5: Please describe your college days
The College days are the best part of our lives and the memories linger on throughout your life. You build friendships that last a lifetime. At BHU I was known more as a good student than a social animal or a fun person. As I matured, I developed deeper relationships with other students that are part of my life even today. I always enjoyed sports and used to play ping pong, badminton, and volleyball in BHU. Honestly speaking, I could not afford tennis and I was envious of those who could. I was part of NCC but hated every minute of it. I guess I was not cut out to be a soldier, cleaning rifles, and being on guard for the enemy. I can still feel the pain in my right shoulder after shooting training behind the girls’ hostel. I do not know how many of you recall the workshop class- learning how to cut wood, use wrenches, lathes and learning about nuts and bolts. I hated every minute of it then as I do now. Again I guess Mother Nature did not want me to be a handy man. I never forget some of the senior year students taking the 3rd year students to a PAN shop about 200 feet away from Dhanrajgiri Hostel. I guess they wanted us to have our first experience with ZARDA but kept it a secret. The return journey from the PAN shop to Dhanrajgiri was the longest journey in space I had at that young age.
The college life at Penn State was totally different. The pressures of being a student were very high. It is a highly competitive school and success does not come easy. I learnt to play tennis and within the first two months I broke two wooden rackets. It is a sport that I enjoy even today and I am trying to encourage our grandchildren to play. Needless to mention, I also learnt how to drink beer some time in 1967. It is a drink I really enjoy even now. I have been always fascinated by dancing but I was very shy learning it in India because of the taboo associated with it. So, I tried dancing a few times at Penn State but failed miserably. My wife is Spanish and those people have dance in their blood. Even though we have been married 39 years, it is only in the last five years that I have been trying to learn dancing. I would say I am at the 4th grade level today.
Q-6: Please tell us about your personal life
Who am I, why am I here, and what must I accomplish is a debate that I struggle with often and it has become even more intense during the last five years. As I get older I am starting to develop some answers through a perceived model about the world, humans, survival, competitiveness, etc. On the light side, I some times think I may be close to enlightenment- it is about time since I am not young anymore! Overall, I would describe myself as a very caring person for others even if it means sacrificing what I need or want. My birth sign “Libra or Balance” describes me very well surprisingly. I enjoy strong and long-term relationships.
My strongest traits are “creativity” and “visionary planning” and in my younger days I used to think that an organization should always continue on a growth path if the workers keep an open mind and the leaders are good at the above traits. Unfortunately, organizational change and organizational behavior are most difficult to implement and modify and that is the reason that giant companies such as TWA, GM, etc. do not exist today as we knew them in our younger days. It has been a bitter-sweet lesson that has taught me to be more realistic about the changes that can be brought about in an organization.
I thrive on family and it is the backbone of my life. I have enjoyed raising our three girls and they are doing very well. They are independent human beings the way I wanted them to be. Two of them are medical doctors and the third one has PhD degree in bio-medical sciences. She wanted to be a researcher just like her father. I should add that she was born the same month and the same date as her father. I am trying to do my best to ensure that I leave behind a united family that can carry the family legacy. I am also trying to instill the same thoughts among the grand children. In terms of who influenced me most in my life, I would have to say my father and my oldest brother. They have been the pillars of our family and I am trying to carry on their legacy. In terms of which teacher influenced me the most, I would have to say Professor H. R. Hardy, Jr. of Penn State University. He passed away in 2008. It is fair to say I am what he wanted me to be and I owe him a lot in my life.
Let us talk about my hobbies and my social life. I enjoy socializing and parties that are not too wild. I enjoy people from all cultures and love to learn from them. I am very good at starting and carrying on conversations with strangers. I enjoy playing tennis, walking through the parks, traveling in distant lands. I am not comfortable indoors.
Over the last five years, I have been dabbling into writing poetry. I have written about 20 poems –mostly for my family members on their birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, deaths, etc. I would like to switch writing in the area of nature but I have not had time to do that yet. I submitted several poems for the 50th reunion of the 1957 class that are available for review for those who are interested.
In closing, I would say “Be yourself, establish realistic goals, trust your biological parents- they are your best friends, do the best whatever you decide to do, and think out-of-the box to guide your life. This is your life and you must live it the way you want to. You may not succeed in achieving all you want but at least you know that you tried and why you did not succeed. Life is wonderful but tough”. Thanks for this opportunity to talk to you all.
Sir, it was nice talking to you.
About Prof. Yoginder Paul Chugh
We are pleased to publish interview with Mr. Ganesh Rengaswamy, who has been appointed as India Country Director and the newest member of global senior management team for Unitus, an international organization that provides innovative solutions to global poverty by enabling scalable and sustainable models in microfinance and related social sectors.
With MBA from Harvard Business School, Mr. Ganesh has more than a decade of experience in executing firm-level strategies and undertaking independent revenue and growth initiatives for investing firms, Fortune 1000 clients, start-ups, and high-growth companies. He has global experience in venture capital, growth investing, and entrepreneurial and operating roles across consumer technology, financial services, internet/mobile, and retail IT services.
Prior to joining Unitus in 2009, Ganesh was a co-founder of Travelguru.com—the online travel leader in hotels and vacations in India and South Asia— and launched India Investments for Greylock Partners, one of the oldest top-tier venture capital firms in the US.
Mr. Rengaswamy maintains the tie with the alma-mater and he recently visited our campus (in February 2009) for Business plan contest judging and to talk to the students about entrepreneurship.
Yogesh K. Upadhyaya from Chronicle interviews him for his leadership role in providing microfinance to need people in India and other parts of the world:
To view his profile, please visit: http://www.unitus.com/about-us/management-team/ganesh-rengaswamy
Q-1: Welcome, Sir. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
As you probably guessed from my name, I am from South India but grew up in Kolkata and lived in Delhi, Ambala, Varanasi, Mumbai and Bangalore before moving to California, which is where I was till I moved back to Bangalore in 2008. I am often challenged when people ask me where in India I am from – the most practical answer for me has been I am Indian.
My mother was a Math Teacher and my father was with Aditya Birla Group. I studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya in Kolkata before going to BHU. My class (Chemical 1996) utilized the Basketball court (BBC) to the fullest by burning the “midnight oil” to play cricket.
My biggest learning about entrepreneurship is that it’s not about who takes the biggest risk but who manages risk the best. Entrepreneurship is a mix of conviction, perseverance, vision, luck and compromises – lots of them. So, when you embark on an entrepreneurial venture make sure that it fires you up enough to withstand the failures along the way and compromises.
Q-2: Please tell us about your profession career.
My career hasn’t been as planned as it seems. I graduated from IT-BHU top of my class with the BHU medal. Out of BHU, I went to Indian Oil Corporation and realized within a few months that it wasn’t for me – I loved the field experience though and would never forget the day our marketing installation caught fire. I also started investing in public markets as a hobby and it turned into something more serious down the line. After IIM-Calcutta, I started with Infosys in 1999 and soon moved to Silicon Valley in Northern California across various roles including managing clients, business development and program management.
In 2003, I got more drawn towards entrepreneurship (failed attempt) and venture investing and decided to go to HBS (Harvard Business School), which is considered the bastion for both. Starting Travelguru at HBS along with my partner was totally coincidental and culmination of one midnight conversation. After Travelguru, I was a venture capitalist between India and Silicon Valley and finally transitioned to Unitus to focus more on social enterprises and entrepreneurship.
Q-3: What is microfinance?
Put simply, microfinance is just what it sounds like – financial services for the poor, which at the outset originates in the form of very small loans to individuals running very small enterprises. Often times, banks and other large financial services institutions overlook servicing the very poor for many reasons including lack of collateral, perception of being high-risk borrowers or the belief that loaning to this clientele isn’t profitable. Microfinance institutions (small banking organizations that serve the poor, often called MFIs) cater to the needs of the “bottom of the pyramid” and over the past several decades have proven to be an effective tool in poverty alleviation as well as a sound financial practice since worldwide repayment rates are upwards of 95%. In addition, access to microfinance helps create economic stability, improve healthcare and housing, provide educational opportunities for their children and, ultimately, realize economic self-sufficiency.
Unitus focuses on partnering with microfinance institutions to achieve what we call “high-impact” microfinance, where the financial resources are accompanied by a range of client-supporting products and services such as, savings programs, and basic insurance plans. For example, we currently work with 14 partners in India (reaching over 6.5 million clients) and depending on their specific needs, we provide them with business consulting or capital in the form of grants with the express purpose of removing their barriers to growth so they can reach more of their region’s poor.
Q-4: How does Unitus operates around the world? How do people get benefited from microfinance through Unitus?
Well, expanding on the previous example, Unitus partners with high-potential MFI partners in high-need regions – currently North, central and North-east India ( we have built mature partnerships in South India over years), East Africa and parts of Latin America – where microfinance has promise but is struggling to grow. We help our partners to develop a broad range of financial products tailored to varied client needs that, along with other business support services, should ultimately increase income, mitigate risk and enhance the livelihoods of their clients. Furthermore, we are strong believers that for these types of programs to be as effective as possible, our partners need to be positioned for long term sustainability. Thus, we work with them to combine commercial capital with solid business practices such as growth planning, capacity building and to optimize operational efficiency so that they can continue to serve their communities and promote positive social change over time.
As for impact, looking strictly at the numbers, when we first started working in India in 2003 approximately 13.6 million people had access to microfinance. Today, that number has grown to over 70 million with one out of every 6-7 borrowers served by a Unitus partner. Also, we’ve helped attract capital to this market from less than $5 million in 2003 to more than $100 million in private investments today. Microfinance in India has indeed come a long way.
However, the social impact of microfinance has not consistently been measured. While we have seen countless lives improved, as a sector, we have not been consistent about measuring specific improvements as a direct result of a microfinance loan. For instance, did the borrowers housing improve or was their food source better after their loan? In the industry, tracking effectiveness and making strategic changes based on analysis is called Social Performance Management or SPM. Trying to overcome that the lack of knowledge around effectiveness, Unitus is doing some groundbreaking work in increasing Social Performance Management and we expect this to be our focus in the next few years
Q-5: Please describe your college days
This is a really tough one for me and it’s hard to be truthful and unbiased across IT-BHU, IIM and HBS. IT-BHU was easily the most carefree of all and our midnight cricket matches at BBC must have generously contributes to the energy bills of the Institute. I realized on my recent trip to Banaras that not much has changed in Lanka and Gadolia except for the malls that have come up – apparently that’s where students watch movies nowadays compared to the local theatres we used to fight it out at. The engineering days certainly go a long way and we had tighter sub-groups within my class that carried over to my days in the US as well.
IIM was in some ways an extension of IT-BHU given 85% + folks were engineers. But it was different in ways that it was a 20 month program and the class size was much bigger.
Harvard Business School was a fantastic experience and the extent of personality transformation is amazing. The class is largest of any B-school in the world (850-900) but split into 10 sections in the first year and fairly personalized. The faculty includes ex-CXOs and industry leaders from some of the biggest corporation in the world. I was straddling three worlds–as a student, entrepreneur and President of South Asia Business Association–at HBS, and enjoyed every bit of it.
Q-6: Please tell us about your personal life
My parents recently moved to Mumbai few years back post retirement. My brother lives in California and I am in Bangalore (along with my wife, Kavitha). Cricket, Reading, Table Tennis and Traveling would all find a place in my ideal life.
I have been influenced by many incidents and people all through my life. My parents, of course taught me the value of hard work, honesty, excellence and integrity. My inspirations include Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Warren Buffett.
Sir, it was nice talking to you.
Thanks so much for interviewing me – the pleasure is mine. I would like to leave the readers with a parting thought.
I am an active proponent of entrepreneurship and social impact across multiple forums around the country. Unitus is actively involved in social entrepreneurship themes with “finances of poor” as the core and several adjacent sectors. We would welcome initiatives or volunteers from alumni and students to bolster our efforts in bridging this global economic and social divide.
G. Rengaswamy can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Chronicle appreciates help from Elyse Rowe and Eliza Kelly for this interview and for forwarding photos.)
Education of Ganesh Rengaswamy
*B. Tech, Chemical Engineering, Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU), Varanasi in 1996
* Post Graduate Diploma in Finance & System Strategy from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta in 1999
* MBA in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital, Harvard Business School in 2006
1) About Unitus
2) Unitus Mission (from the website)
Unitus, an international nonprofit organization, fights global poverty by accelerating the growth of microfinance—small loans and other financial tools for self-empowerment—where it is needed most.
Close to half the world’s population survives on less than $2 a day. In places such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the total living below this line approaches 75 percent. For millions of families in need, microfinance offers the hope for a successful small business and more: increased economic stability, better healthcare and housing, the opportunity for education, and ultimately, the real possibility of self-sufficiency.
3) About microfinance in Wikipedia
4) G. Rengaswamy joins Unitus as India Country Director
5) Profile of G. Rengaswamy in Linked In
6) Harvard Business School, Massachusetts, USA
(Harvard Business School, Boston, USA)
(Below please find photos of Unitus microfinance entrepreneurs in India. Photo courtesy: Adam Huggins and Unitus)
(A microfinance entrepreneur running chilly business)
(Happy group of microfinance entrepreneurs)
(Microfinance entrepreneurs delighting in their loans)
We are pleased to publish interview with Mrs. Sudhi Agarwal who has co-founded Ariose Software that provides software development services in the field of mobile, telecom and security. She has co-founded the company along with her husband, Mr. Amit Goenka. The start-up company is based in NOIDA and provides customized solutions and products for operators, telecoms and MVAS providers. .Prior to that, she worked at iPolicy Networks. She was recently featured in a Dataquest magazine article about women entrepreneurs.
Yogesh K. Upadhyaya from Chronicle talks to Sudhi Agarwal about her start-up business venture, which will inspire other fellow alumnae.
Q-1: Welcome, Sudhi. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I come from a business family with both my parents themselves being entrepreneurs. I was born and brought up in Moradabad which is a city near Delhi and very famous for Brass Export. My father is a Civil Engineer from AMU and my mother is a MA in Psychology and Hindi. We are three sisters. My elder sister did her Integrated MSC in Applied Chemistry from IIT Roorkee and my younger sister did her MBA from Fore Institute of Management.
I am now settled in Noida with my husband Amit Goenka and two daughters Mehar and Manya aged 6 years and 9 months respectively.
My father was always an entrepreneur at heart and has started quite a few new businesses in our joint family. My mother was earlier a home-maker but now she runs and manages a mid-way (high-way) resort near Moradabad. My parents started this resort in their retirement age and they are thoroughly enjoying managing it.
I did my schooling from St. Mary’s, Moradabad. I then joined IT BHU – Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) after qualifying JEE and passed out in 1995.
I joined Software & Technologies (S&T) from campus and continued to work with it for 11 years before I co-founded Ariose in 2006. S&T was later called Duet Technologies which became IPolicy Networks in 2001.
Q-2: How did you get the idea about starting the business venture?
I had always nurtured the dream of having my own business. I had always wanted to be an independent person, in control of my life and activities. I had given myself 8-10 years to master the technology, understand the market and also build my network before foraying into entrepreneurship. I was lucky that my husband shared my thoughts and passion for having our own venture. Both of us have been working in telecom and security domain and can boast of a good technical competence amongst two of us. We were waiting for a right time to start the company and in 2006 we decided to take the plunge. Other reasons which lead to this decision were our want for treading a fresh path, greater exposure, bigger roles, playing with risks and opportunities and make our growth non-linear.
We named our company “Ariose” which is a musical word and means symphony, i.e. getting different musical notes together and making a symphony out of it. We at Ariose believe in "Collaborate to Succeed". We look forward to strategic collaboration with other players to achieve competitive advantage.
Q-3: Please tell us more about your company
Ariose (http://www.ariosesoftware.com/) is a privately held software development company. Our mission is to deliver high performance software solutions customized to client’s vision. Our suite of service offerings are built across a deep and broad matrix of technologies and applications. The technology spectrum includes:
* Mobile and VAS (Value Added Service)
We are now developing products for MVAS (Mobile Value Added Service) market. In the products we are focusing on
* Enterprise Mobility
* Innovative ways to deliver content
* Products for 3G market
We started our operations in October 2006 and are self funded. We have customers in Asia-Pacific, US and Europe.
Q-4: What advice would you like to provide to women engineers to start an IT business venture?
Starting a new business venture is “a Challenge and a Commitment”. There are a whole lot of opportunities for IT business entrepreneurs, whether they are women or men.
The important things are conviction in your dreams, passion for your work, a vision and a plan. You need high level of optimism and self-confidence in starting a business. You need good managerial and technical skills. You should have a good business network. Empower yourself. Read a lot and have a good mentor.
Starting a new business is very challenging. You need to know all facets of business, be it finance, be it administration, and be it HR. While managing all this, you need to cater to business development, projects delivery and customer satisfaction.
To succeed one should stay focused and committed. One should continuously learn from experiences and failures.
Q-5: Please describe your college days.
College days were one of the most exciting and eventful days. I have beautiful memories of our hostel life. Our hostel was made by converting two houses back-to-back into a hostel. The rooms very big, airy and there were lichi, mulberry trees in the courtyard.
We used to love cycling down from hostel to the institute in the beautiful tree-lined roads of campus. In the evening we would hang around Vishwanath temple and used to love the lassi, cold coffee, gulab jamuns and samosas there. Good friends, lots of fun, unplanned outings, cycling to Gadolia, trips to Sarnath are all fond memories which I cherish.
Q-6: Please tell us about your family life.
I am settled in Noida with my husband Amit Goenka and my two daughters Mehar and Manya. Amit is a graduate from BITS Pilani. Amit and I have been working together from last 14 years now. First we were together in the job, and now we have started this venture.
We are a nuclear family and managing home and office together has always been a challenge. I am happy that I have been able to strike a balance between my personal and work life. The best time of the day is when I spend time with my family. It helps me unwind and relax.
The biggest influence in my life has been my parents who imbibed the power of good character and values in me, who believed in me so much that I felt I could achieve whatever I want to. They have given me all the support I ever needed. My mom used to tell me these lines often “Khud ko ker buland itna kee her teqder se pehle khuda bande se pooche bata teeri raza kya hai”. These two lines have been philosophy of my life.
I have always fought against the gender biases embedded in our society which limit women’s education, carrier prospects, mobility, interactions and active economic participation. I strongly believe in equality of men and women and hence do not believe in reservations and special status for women.
Sudhi, it was nice talking to you.
Sudhi Agarwal can be contacted at: email@example.com
(We thank Sweta Kesarwani (Metallurgy 1995) for forwarding us the info about Sudhi Agarwal)
1) Ariose Software
2) Sudhi Agarwal in Dataquest magazine article
Women Empowerment: Entrepreneurs IT’s White Tigresses
With new options of attaining capital, higher aspirations and change in outlook, women in the IT industry are increasingly turning to entrepreneurship
Thursday, May 21, 2009
3) Sudhi Agarwal’s public profile in LinkedIn
Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University
Varanasi 221005, UP