This was the interview that almost didn’t happen. Both Ravi Venkatesan and Sonali Kulkarni were extremely hesitant to be featured in this issue but were gracious enough to invite me to their home in Bengaluru when I requested them for a meeting. As people, both Ravi and Sonali are very understated despite their accomplished careers and are very gracious hosts as well. After successful stints with Microsoft and Cummins, the extremely articulate Ravi Venkatesan is now committing his time to philanthropy using his drive for innovation to find solutions. He identifies himself as a thinker, teacher and writer who loves new ideas. His warm and soft-spoken wife, who is also the great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, is one of the most successful women CEOs in India. She heads the Indian arm of Japanese firm Fanuc Corp and since Sonali took over in 2006, revenue has doubled, with the company capturing an 80% market share in the industrial robots in India.
Since both have hectic schedules that involve a fair bit of travel, they ensure that the time that they spend together is used to do what they love. Since both are nature and animal lovers, most holidays are spent visiting national parks. It is not uncommon to see them rescuing animals that are hurt. They love taking their dog for long walks in the park and often find all the neighbourhood dogs eagerly waiting for them to feed them and play with them.
Where and when did you meet?
Sonali: I met Ravi in October 1999 when we were introduced to each other by a common friend in Bengaluru.
Ravi: That’s exactly how I met her! (chuckles)
What was it th