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Doing the above from 2003, Karthi Subbaraman is kicked about business transformation using design strategy and execution. She believes visible HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) is directly proportional to the growth of technology.
Interestingly, “this” interview happened during her travel during the to and fro airports as she was travelling across cities to conduct workshops in the weekends 😊. As an interviewer, I was amazed at the energy and passion for sharing her thoughts about design, the drive to elevate women, intent to promote women in her own way!
Like every kid in South India, Karthi also did her Engineering in Electronics and Communications from prestigious CIT (Coimbatore Institute of Technology). Continuing engineering, like all engineers Karthi also got placed in a software services firm (then Satyam Computer Services now Tech Mahindra) as a C++ programmer. Things changed when she was thrown as a software engineer for a design team in Statefarm Insurance. Unlike working for other disciplines, it was unique for her to develop understanding for human centered thinking during this tenure. This interest deepened which led her to do master’s in Human Factors Engineering from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Post her masters she joined the Singapore Printer Design Studio of Hewlett Packard. Her responsibility was to design the next gen printers and grow her design teams. The sleek and user-friendly touch screen on the HP printers that you see today (removing the clunky looking 40+ buttons control panel) is a result of her brainwork! The new printer was well received by the market and as a result all competition started using touch screens which led to change the whole printing industry.
This product making experience in HP left a deep impact of transforming lives of customers through design thinking and execution. She was inspired to do the same for several products. This time she wanted to do the transformation for many companies. In her own words, “While in a company, your product scope becomes limited, however as an entrepreneur, you get to solve many problem statements without being caught by organizational inefficiencies.” To do just that, she started OGHMA. The vision was to “transform businesses through strategic design & execution”.
Karthi aims to bring more awareness around Design which sometimes can be seen as just a lipstick. “I have a voice (not a brand) and I use it responsibly to craft designers and design leaders globally via education, writing, speaking, doing and mentoring. Design is more than a passion and a profession for me.”
Currently she runs an experience design school called Xperian School and she is also a visiting faculty at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. In addition to the education side, she also is a pioneer in building a community for Women in Products, India. Now WIP, India is one of the largest communities of Women Product Leaders. The idea is to facilitate the personal growth and development of the members and to provide a scalable framework to build communities locally.
When I asked what is that you want to share with other women out there, here is a response:
“There is a software joke which says god created the version 1 of sapiens and he called it men and then he fixed all the bugs and released version 2 and now he called it women. Jokes apart, we women are very different compared to men. The biology has given us the sense of responsibility naturally. Extending the same we use it everywhere- be it filling the stomachs of people at our homes or in striving to become great at work. We are here to upgrade everything around us. We are designed to give birth to lot of things around! Yet we undervalue ourselves – we need to learn to uplift ourselves and everyone around us!”
What is cooking was my next question.
She is starting an e-school (experience school) so that she can impact more lives positively by enabling everyone to design great products and craft compelling experiences. A decade ago, the term user experience was niche today it is hygiene. With the advent of new devices, new technology and changing users, the factor of offering experience becomes all the more significant. On behalf of all of you, I would wish Karthi success in all her next steps 😊! More on her blog !
Tell something about yourself…. "Saranya, from Pollachi, a small town in Coimbatore. I belong to an orthodox family and I was married at 18. Then I moved abroad after doing my MBA and worked as a technical recruiter in a consulting firm. I worked in London for 2 years. Currently I take care of “ Sharanalayam ” as a Secretary." I am also an American board certified associate behavior analyst (BCABA). Movement out of corporate to where you are placed now..tell us about how you landed here? "One fine day we decided to leave our jobs and move back to India to stay with my parents inside Sharanalayam campus. The main reason was to support my mom to run this. However, my husband who was into hospitality business started a restaurant in Pollachi." About Sharanalayam Sharanalayam was started in 2000 by my mother Vanitha Rengaraj in a rental building and presently sits in a 3-acre campus and 200 inmates: Sharanalayam Dhaya : A Home for th