I have been an engineer, business strategist and publisher. But the common things that have driven my journey from IIT to Silicon Valley to strategy consulting to publishing and writing my own books have been the love for learning new things, innovation and experimentation. Currently I am managing the post merger integration of Harlequin.
Tell us about any current projects you are working on
Breach, a cyber thriller, is my latest book. Initially I had started with the idea of a young girl facing cyber bullying. But while researching the details, I soon discovered the extent to which cyber crime happens in India. No one had written about it. Hence, Breach became a layered story, where the young characters engaged in cyber bullying and minor hacking collide with the larger story of corporate data theft for a major new cancer drug. It happens to be informative about cyber crime and hacking. Above all, it is a fun, fast-paced, easy to read story.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
The biggest challenge in life is perhaps my inner critic that has held me back from trying more things or trying them to the fullest extent possible. It took me a while to learn this. As a young girl growing up in India, I was taught to excel by parents who were very forward thinking. But I was also simultaneously told about all the societal values of being perceived as a “good girl” – obedience, following rules, speaking only as required, and so on. Once I started working, I realised these very values held me back and it took many, many long years to unlearn this and start speaking for myself and be confident.
The future certainly holds change. That is the ever constant of life, and with each change, it means a new opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. I enjoy that process immensely.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
I would classify different achievements at different phases of life. Getting seven US patents for my work in Silicon Valley, or presenting with trepidation in front of Chairmen and CEOs of Fortune 100 companies during my consulting years are what I remember fondly.
Writing my two books Breach and Faking It has been a personal achievement that has required inner motivation and perseverance. There were no external goals to be met here, no one pushing me to complete the work, just an internal metric and a wish to be fulfilled.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I am quite enjoying being myself. I get to be in the middle of new ideas. I get to collaborate, blend in business and content, try new things, and meet interesting people to try to develop yet more new ideas. Above all, at the personal level, being a wife and mother, and part of the family envelope, adds to the richness of life. But if not this, then perhaps I would have been in another venture that exemplified the values I cherish – of innovation and technology, of people and creating buzz.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration was my mother. She was the original juggler, as a psychologist, professor and later Principal of her college, writer of textbooks and short stories, poet, advice columnist, wife, mother, expert in cooking, embroidery,
sewing and much more. She did it all very gracefully and without all the buzzwords that we speak about today. She passed away last year, but remains with me forever.
My other biggest inspiration has been the concept of Renaissance Man which I first read about in an article on Leonardo Da Vinci when I was in Grade 8. I don’t think that I am excellent or the expert in any one domain but I have always tried to inculcate broad based knowledge and interest in multiple areas. This has held me in good stead in life.
What does the future hold for you?
The future certainly holds change. That is the ever constant of life, and with each change, it means a new opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. I enjoy that process immensely. It also holds more writing – I am already mulling over my third book, which will be another thriller exploring technology.
About Amrita Chowdhury
Amrita Chowdhury is the author of Breach, a cyber thriller, and Faking It, an art crime thriller. She has been an engineer, business strategist and publisher. She holds seven US patents for semiconductor manufacturing and has done strategy consulting and Board advisory work for Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 clients. She holds engineering degrees from IIT Kanpur and UC Berkeley, and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon. She has lived and worked in USA, Australia and India.