A Lady's Tie With TiE
Priya Pradeep
Monday, November 17, 2008
Not every entrepreneur gets to meet one of the foremost proponent’s of the entrepreneurial spirit - Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India. “The responsible citizens, particularly women are all the more important for the nation as their thoughts, the way of working and value system will lead to fast development of a good family, good society and ultimately a good nation,” says Kalam sounding out his appeal to women entrepreneurs. And yes the lady entrepreneur in question who got to meet Kalam and is living his thoughts is Geetha Ramamurthy, Executive Director, TiE Boston. “Meeting President Kalam in 2004 was the greatest moment of my career,” squeals Ramamurthy in visible delight.

Ramamurthy’s tie with TiE began in 1996 when she met a charter member of TiE, Sandip Patel, a senior partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who introduced her to TiE Boston. After attending the first TiE event in January 1997, the mission and the event so inspired her that she immediately became a member and started volunteering. The first TiE conference was held in 1998 and Ramamurthy was a volunteer at that conference. Beginning with small projects she became a full-time member in early 2000 and was later hired as a business manager. Growing up the ranks, she became the executive director of TiE Boston in January 2005. However her chequered career does not start and finish with TiE. It’s been a memorable journey beginning from her days as a Biology student at the Bangalore University, India. A later addition was a Medical Technology degree from the Northeastern University in Boston.

Beginning her career as a Medical Technologist at the Children’s Hospital, Boston in the early 1980s, she worked there as Senior Medical Technologist in the clinical laboratory. In 1993 G. Ram, a financial, accounting and tax services company was founded by resigning the well paying job at the hospital. It provided accounting services to small businesses. Later she got submerged in the activities at TiE where her goal was to centralize the operations. “I really believed that I could take TiE to the next level,” says Ramamurthy.

The leap to TiE was taken because of its essential spirit in celebrating entrepreneurship, Ramamurthy herself being an ardent entrepreneur. The belief was that TiE Boston could be taken to higher echelons in association with the president, charter members and other entrepreneurs at TiE. “The passion which I had in the beginning for TiE still remains and is multiplying at various levels in the fabric of my life,” avers Ramamurthy. The confidence to make it arose from the fact that she facilitated the growth of the customer base at G.Ram around the time that she joined TiE. “If I could make it in one area of my life living the role of an entrepreneur, why not in another area (TiE) that celebrates entrepreneurship?” emphatically reasons out Ramamurthy.

Ramamurthy has along with others brought in certain signature initiatives at TiE, Boston. One initiative was the Alliance Partner to foster partnership with other professional organizations, which now numbers 30 in strength. It helped put TiE Boston on the Boston map. The second initiative is the TiE Young Entrepreneur (TYE) to promote entrepreneurial skills to high school students in the age group of 14-18. “I want to take this educational initiative to the global scale soon,” states Ramamurthy. The Indus Women’s Forum now called the TiE Women’s Initiative (TiEWIN) was co-initiated along with Radha Jalan, Director of the Board and Charter Member at TiE. It gave women a platform to be entrepreneurs and runs concurrent with the TiE mission.

Female entrepreneurs can make it if they believe totally in the ventures that they are promoting. “I am lucky to have a system of family and friends supporting me. However most important would be my mentors who have guided me,” says Ramamurthy. Female entrepreneurs, she believes, would need to go for the goal if they believe in the concept they are propounding to shine.

Looking back Ramamurthy has always believed in riding and believing in her gut feeling. While at the Children’s Hospital it was the search to start a business out of her house. Research in businesses that could be successful in niche territories was done and account and tax servicing for small businesses was a space that was zeroed on. “This area is still underserved,” Ramamurthy says. She went ahead being a finance and tax advisor to small businesses. The customer base was grown to 25 customers within a year of inception of G.Ram and that propelled her to go on.

Commenting on her multiple switches from medicine to finance to managing entrepreneurial activities and whether the approach was right she comments, “Sometimes one career may not be the right kind for you. On the medical career that I had, the field through the years had changed and diversified a lot since I began my career in it. One has to respond and adapt to changes else it could lead to stagnation. In India unfortunately people start and retire in the same career even in case they unwittingly made a wrong choice early on. Rather one should seek opportunities to explore one’s potential.” She should know better having made the switch from being a medical technologist after 15 years of service to other vistas. The essence of success in any career is that self-belief is the first step to succeed. Nothing else matters.
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