D Anila Jyothi Reddy: A journey from farm labourer to IT firm’s CEO
From the fields of Warangal, where she used to earn Rs 5 per day, to becoming the CEO of Key Software Solutions in the US, it has been a long journey for D Anila Jyothi Reddy.
D Anila Jyothi Reddy facebook profile https://www.facebook.com/usajyothi
The story of the charismatic entrepreneur who employs 63 people is as dramatic as that of a Bollywood movie. “I never feel shy about speaking of my background, though some of the experiences were unpleasant and hurtful,” said Reddy, who is in the city to take part in the International Women’s Day celebrations being held at the UGC Academic Staff College, Andhra University.
Reddy was the second of five siblings of a poor family. Having lost her mother early in life, Jyothi was put in an orphanage so that she could get some education. She passed Class X in first division but extreme poverty forced her to discontinue studies and work in the fields.
When she was 16, Reddy was forcibly married off to a distant cousin and in the next two years she had two children. Tired of living in poverty and desirous of giving her children a good life, Reddy kept trying for various jobs. In 1988, she joined as adult education teacher at a remuneration of Rs 120 a month. “In those days, Rs 120 was a lot of money for me. I could at least buy fruit and milk for my children. Next, I worked as a National Service Volunteer for Rs 200 a month,” she said.
“Despite my husband’s disapproval, I moved out of the village, Mailaran, with my children and went to Hanamkonda town. I joined a typing institute, did a craft course and earned Rs 20-25 daily by stitching petticoats at Re 1 per piece. I also got a job as the librarian at Janasikshana Nilayam and joined an open school where I would go every Sunday to continue my studies,” said Reddy.
“In 1992, I got an 18-month job as a special teacher at Ameenpet, 70 km from Warangal. The journey would cost me more than my salary. I used to sell sarees in the train every day to earn the extra money. Finally I got a regular job in 1994 at a monthly salary of Rs 2,750. I worked as mandal girl child development officer and would inspect the schools,” she said.
The ambitious woman was not satisfied with earning just enough to bring up her two children. When she saw her cousin, who had come down from the US to Warangal in 1998, she wondered about the differences in their lifestyle and felt that she could learn software courses like her cousin and try to better her fortunes in the US.
“My next step was to learn software from VCL Computers in Hyderabad. I took a long leave from the office, got my passport and H1 visa ready and in 2000 I went to the US, where my husband’s cousin was. I took a job in a shop earning $60 for a 12-hour job and stayed as a paying guest with a Gujarati family,” said the Key Software Solutions CEO whose autobiography Aina Nenu Odipoledu (I haven’t been defeated) is to be released on March 10.
“Then a contact in the US asked me to join as a software recruiter. Though I wasn’t fluent in English then, I overcame all challenges and gradually started my own company,” she said.
With her children, who are now engineering graduates, married and settled in the US, Reddy wants to focus on her dream project which is providing placement and training to 1,000 youth and to start a school that has classes from LKG to PG. Reddy, who is associated with numerous charitable projects, is also an ardent advocate of orphans’ rights.
“I want to do much more. Women can also become better businessmen than men by sheer hard work and intelligence,” she said.
“I want to tell women to be economically independent and take their own decisions instead of depending on their fathers, husbands and sons at various stages in life. They keep educational degrees as mere certificates and stop working after marriage unlike in the US. Be the master of your fate and remember, taking care of children is part of life, but not a life,” she said.
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