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PATENTLY POWERFUL

Ask her if a woman needs some extraordinary gumption to tread a path less travelled, pat comes the reply, “Not necessary, but she certainly needs a motivating force. Surprisingly, it was three men in this male-dominated world who gave me that stimulus- my father, brother and of course, my husband Murali who literally and figuratively did the hand-holding,” says Hima Bindu Atti, Managing Director at Novel Patent Services Pvt. Ltd & Novel Intellectual Property Rights Academy. This university topper, who co-founded the only established firm in the state that offers unique business solutions in the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), has nurtured it from a two-man start up to 70 person-strong organisation (65 of in Vizag & 5 in the US) in less than a decade. She has earned impressive posts and positions in many prestigious fora. More importantly, she is bringing up two adorable daughters - very prodigious Madhumati and 2 year-old Sri Shloka. Without even mentioning the trials and travails she faces in this arduous trek, she makes it sound like a cake walk. Here is ever smiling Hima and her sunny disposition...

Genesis
My father Mr.Trinadha Rao, an ex-service man, is my hero. He had given me total freedom to pursue any course I wanted, whether it is in academic field or in extracurricular activities. My mother Mrs.Umadevi is a perfectionist and my role model. My campus crush blossomed into a perfect marriage with Mr.Murali Krishna Pattabhi, who is the architect of my success. He is the co-founder of our company. His unflinching support and sacrifice reflect in every step I have been taking for 12 years now. My father gave me two valuable gifts - education and my husband. While all others treated me like a little girl who needed protection, it was Murali who spotted the real potential in me and harnessed it. He groomed my entrepreneurial skills and gave me the needed impetus to reach new heights in all my endeavours.

Why IPR?
I can cite two valid reasons- a) I nursed a great interest in entrepreneurship right from the childhood. My academic background in varied disciplines and my avid interest in research further ignited my desire. A career in IP field that has technology mixed with a legal perspective satiates my intellectual thirst.
b) It has a huge potential as it is in a nascent stage in India and an apt relevance to my qualification. So Novel Patent is here. To my immense delight, the firms I dreamed of working with when I was a student are now my clients.

Support system
Murali, who obtained M.Tech (Biomedical) degree along with me, echoes my aspirations. As the 1st generation entrepreneur, I nursed a few apprehensions, but my father-in-law, the late Mr.Janardhana Rao, helped and encouraged me to take the bold step. Mrs.Punyavathi, my mother-in-law, is proud of my success and renders rock-solid support. Even my sister- in-law Jyoti and her husband Siva Prasad Mangaraju are always ready with help. The name – Novel was suggested by my sister-in-law Suvidha. Hence, I describe Novel Patent as the endeavour of whole family.

Hiccups
The challenge had become rather a bit daunting as I entered motherhood and entrepreneurship at the same time. In the stipulated 20 days, we needed to complete multiple tasks like statutory requirements including raising loan for the company, building interior workspace, pulling funds and recruiting trainees. As it is totally a new field in India, getting the message across to people was a herculean task. For e.g. EPF enrolling. It took us more than half a day to make the official understand what our services are all about & which category they fall in. Finally, they slotted it in expert services category. We needed to spend 45 minutes on each prospective employee, making them understand what our company does & its tasks. But these are the experiences that helped me grow as an entrepreneur. We have very good laws in place when it comes to IP, but we are lagging behind in their implementation.

She at the helm
Once in awhile, only when I am reminded that I am a She Boss that a spark of pride crosses my mind. Otherwise, I am no different from any man at the helm. When I am interacting with outsiders, I find that they, at least out of courtesy, lend their ears, because I am a woman. This makes my job easy. Of course, on certain issues like finances, I did encounter questions like- “Don’t you have a man dealing with it?”
When it comes to running my company, I am not much affected as I am focused on my goal and carry out my duties with commitment. I never look at my employees through gender lens. My only demand is that they should do justice to their roles. I am proud that more than 50% of my staff is women. They are given responsibilities based purely on their calibre and performance. The gender factor comes into picture only when we take that extra care to reach them home safely.

Sad reality
Here I must admit that not all those women are strong enough to pursue their chosen path. Many of them throw away their career for matrimony. I wish to see them leaving the organisation seeking greener pastures, but not fritter away the opportunities given to them for marriage. We employ only engineers and give them prestigious projects. It is sad to see that their wonderful talent going untapped after they enter the wedlock.

Status of women
It varies from the field to field. There is no discrimination or special privileges for women in the corporate world that involves dealing with the developed nations. But in Indian context, it is a different. I recall one incident when a learned professional made an unsavoury remark on my taking my 4-month baby to a work place. In the US, they applauded a woman carrying her child to the parliament. In our work culture, we do see men being apprehensive about reporting to woman or taking her advice. This must be eradicated.

Indian women Vs US women
I must admit that we are more privileged than many others in the world. We have a great support system- be it helpers for household chores or family members who take charge of our homes. Our social obligations may come in the way of fine-tuning our focusing on work. American women don’t panic in the face of odds as easily as we do. There is an equal distribution duties at workplace and home too. Their society doesn’t look askance at the men who carry out ‘feminine’ tasks.

Women Entrepreneurs
Yes they are in woeful minority because a) There is not much change in them. After orientation courses, I find girls asking- “How do I set up an online sari business?”
b) They are not ready to take risks of
c) We are victims of mood swings and judge ourselves from various angles. For e.g, we feel guilty for not taking care of the family as our grandmothers or mothers once did.

Inside-Outside
It is hard to achieve balance here as doing justice to one side means neglecting the other. I may not be there for my family when they want me but am always there when they need me.

Advice to the aspirants
Think big; work on viable opportunities; try to add value to society; love what you do and give your best efforts to it.

Future plans
I recently started IPR Academy that promotes IPR education and trade by linking industry, research and investors. We are revamping our services to raise the bar and meet the global standards. We have started working on unique research concepts and will implement them in the process to give the best possible solutions to our clients. We plan to expand our base to different parts of the world and to make our firm employee-friendly.

Unforgettable incident
Very obviously, the Hudhud experience. I was here with my child and aged mother-in-law at that time while my parents and husband were in the US. The cyclone tore apart my office. Yet, I managed to shift it to a new place and started the operations within three days. Friends like Shyam Manickam and Uday, and my staff stood by me through the ordeal. Yet, that was an experience which can never be erased from my memory. Of course, that also helped me emerge stronger.

AWARDS & REWARDS

  • Obtained Bachelors degree in Pharmacy and Masters in Technology in Biomedical Engineering from GITAM
  • An Alumni of GITAM university, Nalsar University, Indian School of Business & Goldman Sachs 10K women and holds certifications in IPR from WIPO Geneva.
  • Only women in business serving the IPR domain in the state.
  • Co-founder & MD of Novel IPR Academy, the only IPR Academy in the South India.
  • Recipient of Exceptional Women of Excellence. It was given by the Women Economic Forum at Hague.
  • Member of Steering Committee of National Research & Development Council, Visakhapatnam
  • Guest faculty on Panel of DC-MSME
  • On Governing Council of Information Association, AP
  • Consultant for many firms and guest faculty at many engineering colleges.
  • Her clients range from inventors, start-ups & technology companies, US Universities and MNCs.
HER THOUGHTS
  • Women should socialise and network to grow
  • Sharing information is crucial for growth. Men join groups and use them as effective platforms to disseminate information, while women don’t do it.
  • Women must step out to gain knowledge. Only then they can understand the problems of other working women.

 
 
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