Dr. A Velumani, PhD
This is not another rags to riches story, but a story of focus, discipline, honesty, frugality and disruption; which of course doesn’t end here. I have more to learn, disrupt and achieve in the years to come!
I believe the world is split into two kinds, the reason why most of my quotes (tweets rather) convey a clear picture of the two kinds; it is my way of sorting the world and its mysterious ways of working. So, let me begin my story with the two kinds!
There are two kinds - people who are born rich and the ones who are not. I fell into the second category, the day I was born. My parents, though generous at heart, could not afford to buy me luxurious things, let alone a pair of chappals or trousers. That was then, but today I own a 200,000 sq. Ft laboratory space with complete laboratory automation, my hard earned child - Thyrocare.
I cannot however, take all the credit for building this brand because I always had pillars of strength that stood with me during the challenges, deprivations and hardships, weaving tiny stories of disappointments and success; and how together they brought an interesting angle to my story.
Born in a small village called Dasnaickenpalayam of Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu, I was the first born followed by my two brothers and a sister. My appa, a farmer by profession worked in fields growing maize (corn), while my amma, worked hard to feed us by selling milk from the buffaloes she reared.
Appanaickenpatti Pudur, 25 km away from Coimbatore and yet stays untraced on the taluka map is my maternal grandfather’s village and a place where I spent my early life. Food made of corn, and limited amenities, sufficed our simplistic life’s requirements. Those were the days when I first learned the basic and the most crucial lesson of life - Frugality.
I magine sitting on the ground with just a plate and a slate (no school uniform) and the teacher teaching - well, that was my school. The Town Panchayat Union School of my village would only teach up to 5th grade . Though a bright kid in class, I had no choice but to miss school for the 4 months of rain to work in the fields.
For my further studies, I stayed at my aunt’s place during pre-university course (PUC), who were not-so-fond of me; but for me that was my only resort and thus I made studies my only focus, to an extent that I made my cousin’s non-favorites my favorites subjects (Science and Mathematics). Which in the long run paid off well, guiding me to where I stand today in the Healthcare sector. This part of my life taught me another inevitable lesson to success - Focus..
H aving scored well in PUC examination, I aspired to be an Engineer. But my financial conditions coupled with advise from relatives made commerce my fate! But miraculously my professor realised and helped me swap to B.Sc. within 20 days of my college. However, this incident offended my relatives, leaving me no alternative but to move out of the house.
I then learned another lesson of life - to face my challenges heads up! I had to earn, sustain and study in the college, simultaneously. And though it all sounds dramatic, I had days when I sat on the platform to study before going to college and searched for part-time jobs post college hours to earn a living; with a hostel’s dormitory bed as a source of shelter, I faced my obstacles and completed my bachelor’s.
My BARC Days
As a B.Sc. -Chemistry qualified fresher, my roller coaster ride did not end there. I achieved a 100 failed interviews and 2 jobs (first in Gemini capsules for 3 years and later at the Central Water Commission (CWC) - Coimbatore division). Destiny had something in store for me, because I finally landed in the city of dreams - Mumbai.
My love for reading newspaper helped me in disguise, because I came across and applied for the job of Scientific Assistant at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) - Mumbai. With the interview call, I arrived at Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) with a set of clothes and leather shoes (which were very much not meant for rains pouring everywhere!). With no place to go in the unfamiliar city, its people and the language spoken, I had no alternative but to stay on CST railway station for 4 days until my interview was done
Later, when I was selected to work in the Radiation Medicine Centre (RMC) - BARC at the Tata Memorial Hospital Annex at Parel, Mumbai became my new home. As, I was appointed in a laboratory that studied the effects and uses of radiation in thyroid disorders and cancer, my curiosity of exploring various experimental platforms in biochemistry piqued my interest and fueled my aspiration study further and I obtained a Master’s and later a Doctorate’s degree in ‘Thyroid Pathophysiology’.
Throughout my time chasing my aspirations, I also happened to continually work in the laboratory until my capacity to do a routine job exhausted. It might sound rude or rather an abrupt behaviour, did I have a choice but to live with passion and achievement in life?! Well, No for an answer would do, and so one fine day I chose to become the boss by quitting BARC. Today, it sounds like a courageous decision, but back then this most impulsive decision took a decade of focus and dedication from me to make it a courageous venture. And I am at peace for daring to get out of my comfort zone.
This stunt of daring, of dreaming beyond imagination and of building a vision came to me as a blessing. With the lessons learned from life so far, I planned to soar up in the sky. I was pushed hard off the edge, and that is when soaring to new heights and achieving more, ignited the passion in me.