It is interesting to know how ‘travel’ has held travails for this simple yet ambitious lady throughout her life. The positive outcome is that it has triggered a passion in her to create ‘safety’ net for the common man. Sarada Vishnubhatla finds out in a chat with Ashitha Sudhakar the reason behind it.
Ashitha is a strict adherent of the systems and processes that she helped create at Tapco Pneumatics. Even the original cofounders – her husband and his partner – do not dare override them. She thinks ‘compromise’ is mind’s game which should not be succumbed to – not by her, or anyone else. Ashitha Sudhakar, Head – Business Development at Tapco Pneumatics comes from a humble agrarian background and she has big dreams in life. She is confident that 2020 shall see a few of them fructifying. Born in 1980, her village in Tiruvallur, Tamil Nadu, did not have a school in her growing up years.
“The nearest was 40 kilometres away and we would have to catch the bus at sunrise and be back home by sunset,” says Ashitha, the first person in her family to be educated and finish graduation. A quiet and above average student in school, Ashitha shares: “Outside of home, I was a different personality altogether. I was a tomboy in college. My average attendance was perpetually low, so I had to pay fines to clear them all. I was the ring leader of my group of friends taking pleasure in harassing junior students, not letting them board the bus which used to ply once every three hours,” laughing out loud. Even as a child, Ashitha knew that she would grow up to be a businesswoman. She reveals: “Commutation has always been a struggle for us. From school, college to my working days. Even today, when I have to travel extensively for business development, my mother never fails to remind me to be careful. While I understand her concern, I want to change the ‘safety’ concept here.” She wants everyone, especially women, to feel free and travel without a safety risk.
Having finished her graduation in 2000, Ashitha spent the next decade working in different capacities, developing her personality and organizational skills. “After I got married in 2002 to a mechanical engineer, I started urging my husband to start thinking of opening a business of our own. He was already working with pneumatic products and knew the concept inside out. Then in 2008, he and his friend founded Tapco Pneumatics and began supplying components to automotive industry. As the company grew, I began handling finances, operations and HR.” One incident with her young son slipping off the footboard on his school bus in 2016 woke her up to design automated doors. “But the concept was new to the market in India and majority of the buses here needed electric motors to be installed. Eventually, we designed Elektra as a complete electric auto door controller for school buses.” Ashitha and her team decided to target the retail market with Elektra. And currently, under her direction, Elektra is undergoing upgradation and it will be out in the market in early 2020. She is confident that even engineering products can be given a creative touch.