Keeping her company

COMPUTERS INTERNATIONAL is a company that stands testimony to a woman's grit and determination of making a world-class software company, able to meet any kind of technical challenge. In as early as 1987, Sarada Ramani's husband wanted his wife to study computers, which, of course, she didn't. Her interest in software technology was kindled when her daughter required a computer teacher. Sarada started her career as a faculty member and went on to found Computers Internationalon March 25, 1996. Today, servicing clients in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and the Middle East, the founding principle of "growing together" is the prime force that binds the institution and everybody connected with it in a symbiotic relationship.

Sarada says the software business is among the best professions a woman can choose as the industry works with educated youth, attuned to working in a team and naturally respect a person for qualities they possess and gender does not matter.

With an annual turnover of around Rs. four crores, and a staff strength of 75 people, Sarada does not deny competition, saying, "There is no business without competition. Apart from the big names, there are many companies manufacturing similar products.We have been able to survive the downturns and still keep growing because the market has enough room for every one. We have identified a niche market for ourselves where we work with focussed commitment."

Any company's strength is its people and well laid out HR procedures have helped to recruit the right people at right time for the right job. Primarily, the recruitment is based on the demands of the projects. While freshers are sometimes recruited as trainees, candidates with requisite experience are preferred. Sarada says, "We emphasise on technical competency and good work attitude, and customer satisfaction is our aim. There are no hierarchical barriers and people are encouraged to talk to us and share ideas. Performance alone matters."

For Sarada, the industry has recognised her efforts and several awards have come her way, including `Consistency in Growth' given by Arun Shourie, Minister, Government of India, on behalf of Export Promotion Council, the `Best Entrepreneur Award' by the Vice-President of India on behalf of the Ministry of Small Scale Industry, and the `Best Company in Management, Productivity, Quality and Innovation' given by the Governor of Andhra Pradesh on behalf of the Economic Society of India.

Sarada says, "Winning awards makes us feel that we have achieved something but it doubles responsibility as there is a certain standard an award-winning company must maintain."

Sarada believes woman entrepreneurs have to deal with problems at two levels — personal and industrial. She's been lucky to have a supportive family, her husband being her "prime motivator". Her daughters are her assets. She says, "Since we work 18 hour days, my children have become self-sufficient. Normally three months in a year are spent travelling abroad. In fact, I am called the visiting mother at home."

Leisure is a rare luxury, though in her free time she loves playing Solitaire, her "mind-sharpening tool". Sarada is a voracious reader and says, "I fight with my daughter over sharing books."

Her message to budding entrepreneurs is simple — people can achieve what they want in life, if they have the determination to succeed and overcome the setbacks. All that is needed to go forward is hard work, sincerity and optimism.


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