Outstanding Women

The Genie

Never one to shy from exploring, Anu Acharya's uninhibited curiosity led her to pioneer status in the Indian genomics industry  

Photograph by Harsha Vadlamani

The city of pearls, Hyderabad, has woken up to the cool breeze across the hills on a slow Monday morning. While some are struggling to recover from the weekend hangover, some are preparing themselves for the new week with renewed energy. For Anu Acharya, founder, Mapmygenome, who is always bubbling with zeal and enthusiasm, acting lazy is never the preferred alternative. She often juggles her business meetings and media interactions with cycling, swimming or spending time with her family, especially with her two little daughters. Among her long list of hobbies, swimming is her latest obsession. “I don’t see work and life as two separate entities. I enjoy what I do,” says Acharya. 

Changing streams
Acharya doesn’t find it difficult to manage multiple roles at the same time and that set her apart from her peers. Even at school, if she wasn’t seen in the library, one could probably spot her doing experiments in the physics lab or playing basketball. Though today Acharya identifies herself as an entrepreneur, she was drawn to physics during her childhood. She was born in Bikaner, but grew up in Kharagpur, West Bengal. As her father was a physics professor at IIT-Kharagpur, she lived on campus and dreamt of joining IIT. For Acharya, her father was her source of inspiration. She says, “I aspired to become a physicist like him and win the Nobel Prize.” 

After her graduation in physics at IIT, she went to Chicago to study further. Her father always encouraged her to dig deeper and learn everything with a wider perspective, and Acharya diligently followed his advice. “The idea was to be a path-breaker in whatever I did,” says Acharya. Thus when she realised that she would only be a mediocre physicist as she grew up, she started looking for more options.“It was a process of discovery for me, in terms of realising my strengths and weaknesses and capitalising on what I was best at” says Acharya. Eventually, she started working for a telecom start-up in the United States. As she was associated with the start-up since its inception, most of her entrepreneurial learning came from there. 

After gain

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