Uma Chigurupati talks with You & I - Running High on Success

“Work and education are important for all – whether men or women. Both should share equal responsibilities without falling prey to gender bias,” shares Uma Chigurupati, setting the tone for an articulative chat. She floated a pharmaceutical company – Granules India Limited – along with her husband C. Krishna Prasad 34 years ago. She’s all zest and zeal when she talks about how attributes like hard work and focus are crucial for making headway in life, even for women.

Her spirit of womanhood is so undisguised, that when she reached the North Pole while participating in a marathon, she dedicated her achievement to all youngsters and women of India. In conversation with an extremely dynamic entrepreneur and a marathon addict, who’s also lined up the launch of her wine brand in Hyderabad this month…

What made you take the leap into the winery business?
My husband and I are very passionate about winemaking and have always dreamed of owning a vineyard. While we were looking for places to develop a vineyard in India, we stumbled upon some favourable land near Hampi. And in 2007, we launched Krsma wine, which is presently only in Bengaluru, and New York; and will soon be available in Hyderabad, too. As we started this out of passion, and not for generating profits, we plan to keep it niche.

Tell us about your marathon adventures.
Running marathons has always been something that both my husband and I enjoy doing. We began participating in marathons in 2003. Initially we wanted to set an example for our employees, so we encouraged everyone to participate in the first 10k run that was organised in Hyderabad. Much to our delight, about 150 of us took part.

Although we are not athletes, my husband and I gradually moved from half marathons to full marathons. I recollect that in 2010, we ran in an extreme marathon, which was organised for a period of seven months, and included locations on seven continents. One month was in the middle of a safari, one in the Gobi Desert, one in the North Pole, one in Antarctica, and so on. We never thought we would set a world record after participating in it. We entered the Guinness Book for being the only married couple to complete the run in Antarctica and North Pole!

We continued doing marathons whenever possible. In 2015, we participated in the world marathon challenge, wherein we had to run continuously for seven days in seven different continents. It was quite adventurous! We started in Antarctica and ended in Sydney. We earned another Guinness recognition for being the only couple to complete the marathon in six days and 18 hours.
Going by what you’ve said, fitness is obviously quite important to you…

It is! In fact, I would also advise everyone to drop living the sedentary life and allocate at least an hour to working out every day. This is beneficial not only for physical fitness, but also for mental health as well. Whether for a 10-year-old or a 60-year-old, proper fitness and eating right are absolutely necessary.

Who has influenced you the most?
There is no particular person as such. I look up to all those women who do extremely well in their fields despite the hurdles they’ve faced. And I admire anybody who is hard-working, whether in business, job, scientific expedition or sports.

How do you use your free time?
I am presently occupied with our CSR initiative called the Pharma Patasala. This is a self-development training programme wherein the students of the 12th standard will be trained for four months and offered a job in our company. I go to the school regularly and check how the kids are doing. This project is very close to my heart now, and I enjoy visiting the school in my free time. Apart from that, I listen to music and watch movies at home whenever possible.       – as told to Sumana