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Promoting positivism is her mission

Suguna. Photo: --C.V. Subrahmanyam.

In these days of fierce competition, acquiring a mere degree or PG qualification is not enough, a well-groomed personality and a positive attitude towards life are a must for success. No wonder personality development has become the in-thing for students, job seekers and also those who wish to attain growth.

A number of trainers, many of whom are not professionally qualified, have sprung up in different parts of the country to cash in on the demand. They even make false claims of having served as faculty at the world-famous Dale Carnegie Institute. In Andhra Pradesh, a woman has modified the course to suit Indian needs.

Meet Suguna, director, Sugun Courses, who has been successfully conducting training courses for over 20 years. She is a living example of how one can make it big in life overcoming all obstacles. Today, at 56, she does not like to depend on her highly successful sons and prefers to lead an independent life, while helping others to lighten up their lives.

Hailing from a family of dancers she is also a Kuchipudi exponent. Her sister Uma Rama Rao and Sumathi are both dancers. She was giving a stage performance in Hyderabad, when Aporesh Acharya from Kolkata saw her and later proposed to her. They married in 1966.

Acharya was basically a marketing professional, whose talent was spotted by a representative of the Dale Carnegie Institute in India. He was appointed as a trainer at the institute in 1976. At that time, the couple had three sons, all below 10 years of age. After a couple of years, he returned to India and started his own institute - McGrath Institute of Learning and Training - in Hyderabad.

Suguna, who had done her M.A. (economics), assisted him with the work at the institute. She acquired the basic skills of training from her husband. Acharya opened branches in Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai and moved from place to place. "In course of time, the response at the Hyderabad centre diminished while it picked up at other centers. The centre was closed in 1979 and we shifted to Kolkata," recalls Suguna.

"A rift surfaced in our personal life in 1979. Our differences grew and in 1982, I decided to lead my own life. I was not economically independent. Acharya gave me only Rs.500 thinking that I would return to him once the money was exhausted. By the time I reached Hyderabad, I almost ran out of money. My attempts to get a job proved futile and after a fortnight, a former student of MILT approached me and asked, `Why can't you revive the training courses?'."

Suguna started the courses with just a couple of candidates and thankfully, she got all- round encouragement in the conduct of the courses. She completed her first month-long training course on July 4, 1982, in which 22 pupils had graduated. Soon the numbers swelled and there was no looking back for her.

During the past two decades, she has trained over 2,000 persons in Hyderabad and after shifting base to the Port City last year, she has trained about 50 through three training programmes.

The Sugun courses are classified into `Soukhyam' and `Swabhava'. While Soukhyam is a basic course which deals with evaluating life performance, acquiring self-knowledge, goal setting, learning to implement change and providing an impetus to be the best, Swabhava is an advanced course designed to boost memory power, develop self-confidence and promote effective speaking and impromptu speaking.

The in-house training programmes conducted by her include the one for workers of Bhadrachalam Paper Boards Limited in Telugu on `Effective speaking', for executives and managers of BHEL-Hyderabad on `Self-management', a six-session senior course for senior managers and executives on `Memory and mind control' and a one-day seminar for senior managers of NMDC on `Effective living', for managers on `public speaking' and for executives on `self development' at Bailadila in Madhya Pradesh.

Suguna is currently writing books on philosophy and teachings of Sri Ramachandra of Shajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. "My aim is to help people lead richer and fuller lives", she says.


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