Every immovable object meets an unstoppable force. This is one such intriguing story of an entrepreneur’s fight against the system when all looked lost. From a typical girl born in a village, Mallipattana of Karnataka, Suma Annegowda is today a Career Coach and the Director of Techkshetra Info Solutions, a software startup. Suma’s career and entrepreneurial life raises as many questions as it answers. Questions that HerMoneyTalks attempted to answer in this free-wheeling chitchat.

A B.E. graduate from one of the most reputed colleges SIT Tumkur, Suma began her career by working with startup organizations such as Dream Tekies and Neobytes Software Solutions. She worked at a PSU under the Government of Karnataka and led the skill development project for 2 years. The Government of Karnataka accepted one of her proposals to implement Re-Skilling program for women on career break.

Suma is the Joint Secretary of COWE-Karnataka (Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs). She has also received an Appreciation award from COWE-K in association with Government of Karnataka on International Women’s Day 2019.

A mother of a 7-year-old son, Suma’s enthusiastic way of balancing home and workspace makes her story a special one. She is also an avid traveler, an athlete, and a culinary expert.

A textbook start to an entrepreneurial career

“After passing out from college, I did not have even a single penny in my pocket. But my vision to start a business pushed me to take a bank loan. From then on, life changed!” Suma’s kick off the blocks was as powerful as it was inspiring.

After passing out from college, I did not have even a single penny in my pocket. But my vision to start a business pushed me to take a bank loan. From then on, life changed!

“Through my 14+ years of career experience in multiple sectors including both private and public spheres, I have learnt the power of resilience, action, the art of vulnerability and witnessed the impact of accountability. I learnt how we can cut through the noise to work with empowering beliefs and have seen magic happening by taking actions,” says Suma.

After her graduation, Suma started a petrol bunk as Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) business associative in 2006.

A devastating incident that opened doors

An entrepreneur’s fight against the system is typically rooted in a life-changing experience. An unforgettable experience at work unwittingly paved the path for Suma’s next career move. “I had taken a career break after working for a decade in the IT industry and soon restarted my career in an organization. I was doing an awesome job there and got more work than my more experienced peers. Shockingly, they began to target me out of jealousy and I became the victim of their politics.”

Suma’s expression turns considerably downcast. “I was 5 months’ pregnant at that time, and the company asked me to leave! It was heartbreaking. I requested them for a 3-month extension as it was not the right time for a new job. None of them showed any human courtesy. I had to leave that place.”

I was 5 months’ pregnant at that time, and the company asked me to leave! It was heartbreaking. I requested them for a 3-month extension as it was not the right time for a new job. None of them showed any human courtesy. I had to leave that place.

This was the moment Suma took the decision to become a coach. She decided to help women around her as she didn’t want anyone else to experience a similar situation.

“Also, during this pandemic, I have seen women facing strenuous hardships in their career. I felt it is the right time to help them. Hence, I began investing more time in empowering women. I began to enable them discover their true self, create an identity, and rise in their career,” adds Suma.

Challenges as an entrepreneur

Venturing into an unknown industry, managing finances single handedly, and establishing herself as an entrepreneur were the greatest obstacles Suma faced as a woman. This entrepreneur’s fight against the system was multi-dimensional.

I took financial help from my family and approached bank to make both ends meet in the initial stage.

“I took financial help from my family and approached bank to make both ends meet in the initial stage. As the daughter of parents who are entrepreneurs themselves, adjusting to business life was not that challenging to me. Also my skill in quickly adapting to the world around made me a survivor,” exhorts Suma.

Finding the right guide was also a big challenge. Fortunately, she got a good mentor who became her motivator and guide in business.

Future plans in business

As the owner of a petrol bunk, Suma envisions to provide the best services to local people. She also plans to improve the infrastructure of the business to attract more customers.

As a career coach, she looks forward to help as many people as possible to fast track their career growth. She also aims to tie-up with corporate sector to provide career coaching to women workers.

Suma further plans to reach out Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities women colleges to help students kick start their career goals.

Money hacks from a battle-hardened entrepreneur

(1) Leverage the banks and its loan ecosystem to the fullest.

(2) Go slow, invest less and verify the business model frequently.

(3) Invest in modern applications that make it easier to monitor profit and loss and adjust budgets on the go.

Suma advises beginners to go beyond mere thought and to take action. She urges young women to carry an ‘L’ board on their forehead to keep learning. She’s a great advocate of leveraging local women entrepreneurs’ associations, personal branding, and networking to get opportunities.

Today, Suma is on a mission to help women fast track their career by tapping their inner power, networks, and the right environment. Fittingly, she has joined forces with HerMoneyTalks to ring in financial empowerment for the fairer sex.