What brings a techpreneur to pitch a tent in a city that is not an IT hub or a start-up hub either? A few minutes into the telecon and you’ll find yourself warming up to this charming young woman who is breaking barriers each day with simple actions and creating quite a big ripple in terms of the impact she is creating in Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, India. With a 30 member team, she focuses on bringing in value and happiness at the workplace in multiple ways as you will see in the interview ahead. Meet Usha Ramani, co-founder of Gurujada, an IT outfit specialising in services around growth hacking and content management. They work on growth hacking strategies for small businesses – helping them reach more customers by searching for new leads and also closely engaging with their existing customers for upselling. Insanely cost effective and the will to experiment as an extention of the clients in-house team serves as an added advantage.
What She Loves About Her Work
Something that she truly loves about her job is that she can give back to society, and being in a small town, allows her to do that in more ways than one. Her belief in her capabilities led her to take the courageous step of setting up a base on her own, without any external funding. It is commendable how in a short span of time she has grown to be an influencer in the area.
Unlike most large organizations where culture building is a long process driven by experts, Usha kept it simple and slowly built a culture that was sustainable and impactful. While ensuring basic culture etiquettes are followed to ensure people feel happy and safe at the workplace, she brought in well thought out ideas and implemented them one at a time.
On women’s day, for instance, they had everyone come together and share stories about themselves and the women in their lives, about their struggles and contributions. It was quite an emotional one for all and went a long way in sensitizing the men about women not only at the workplace but in life at large. Ever since, their respect for the opposite gender has grown leaps and bounds, creating a sense of equality for women.
Being in a small town, Usha had to work twice as hard towards cultural building and maintaining equality among both the genders in the organization, as it wasn’t something that was practiced regularly at homes. She started this with a simple practice of asking employees to take turns to make tea for the whole team. Every individual jumped in to make this initiative a success. Soon the boys also learnt how to make good tea and took up the entire responsibility of making and serving tea, on themselves. They have now all come together and get everything done and don’t need a peon for anything. The employees have taken ownership of the happiness quotient at work and this includes creating a safe and fulfilling environment for all.
Giving Back To The Community
Where there is a good intent behind any new idea, Usha feels things do fall in alignment and resources show up. She was itching to contribute towards Swach Bharat Abhiyaan in any way she could. She was skeptical at first as there were only 10 volunteers. But soon the initiative snowballed with all the employees, their families, her kid’s schoolmates, neighbours and finally with a team of 120 volunteers, they decided to clean up a particular area in town. Even the people who had taken a leave on that day turned up for this just cause and it became a huge success. Support came in from the government as well and within 2 hours they had a perfect ‘Before and After’ picture.
Usha says ‘one can only be an example by doing things and not just talking about them.’ She leads from the front as a CEO and believes that she has the power to bring about a change and give back to the community. The ease of getting things done when you are in a leadership role is a great opportunity to serve the country, as there are no lengthy procedures to get permissions in place to execute. Think it, plan it, execute it – three simple steps to get a whole lot done she says. And when it is a just cause that furthers the case of living in a clean environment then everyone chips. To add some fun to the movement they got t-shirts printed to project team work and felt extremely proud about themselves for doing something for their community.
Movie screening is used as an effective way of instilling patriotism and empowerment in their team. They screened the movie “Saandh ki Aankh” on women’s day and “URI” during last year’s national emergency to elevate the feeling of sacrifice for the country in them. We never think about the people at the borders because of whom we are safe and living a happy life. This one simple step instilled a feeling of pride for the motherland in all their hearts.
Ask her about obstacles in execution and she smiles saying ‘There are challenges, but solutions as well’
Employee Growth And Well-Being
They indulge in a practice of rewards and recognition every 6 months. New team leads are made and leadership roles are given to every employee at some point. This helps in building their self worth and confidence. They are given full authority to try and experiment with their methods in the organization. They also give out surprise bonuses to their employees based on their performance bound by time.
But Usha feels that bonuses are a one-time thing and don’t hold a lot of importance. She feels overall development and learning is more useful and will be of greater importance for them in the future. For this reason, they purchase online courses that can help them better their skills and uplift their employees. They have sessions on photoshop, video editing, etc., which can also be useful for them in their future endeavours. She believes that along with the growth of the company, the growth of the individual is equally important.
IT In 3-tier City
Usha feels that no place is remote and that we are all part of a big global village today. With happy clients all the way from New York to local customers, her team has been effectively serving them, busting any myths about lack of capabilities that are usually attached to a smaller region. Since inception her organization has posted positive bottom lines year after year further strengthening their vision to serve the world from wherever they are. And she feels the biggest advantage is that employees continue staying with their families and are happy being in their hometown.
A Message For Our Readers
“Be who you are. Always be true to yourself as you can’t put on a false mask forever. Find your passion and work towards it. Don’t be afraid to do anything. Just go for it and things will fall in place.” – says an upbeat Usha Ramani.
It is not every day that we bump into entrepreneurs who are as inspiring, passionate and caring towards their teams. So when our team finds such trailblazers we leave no stone unturned to interview them, ask them a million questions and then put together a good read for you, our reader, so you can dip into this contagious energy and spread it all around!
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