Her move to Portugal was the first time she’d been out of India and on top of working in a new sector, she had to get used to a new country, a new language and new working environment. Describing her decision to make the move, she says “I wanted to do something of my own and make myself uncomfortable. I just went. I didn’t know anybody there – just the professor I’d be working under – so I had to figure things out for myself.” While in Europe she also took the opportunity to make some short trips, including one to Paris – a city she’d always dreamed of visiting and one that she’d remember with fondness in future years. After all the progress she’d made in her studies and her career, here she was, halfway around the world, standing in front of the Eiffel Tower and dreaming of just how much higher she could rise.
When she returned home to India, Poonkodi was snapped up by Boeing to work on turbulence models as an Aerospace Engineer in their Bangalore office – making history in the process as the first woman ever to join the team. Once again – she could have been forgiven for thinking she’d made it. But Poonkodi wanted to keep testing herself. So when she got a message from Sanjana Tadepalli from the EF team, telling her about the cohort that was starting in Bangalore, she had to find out more. After meetings with the team and another tough conversation with her parents, she decided she was going to try her hand at entrepreneurship, making it through the application process and joining the first Bangalore cohort.
Poonkodi is part of a trailblazing new generation of female entrepreneurs in India that’s tearing down walls and changing perceptions of what’s possible. A study by BNP Paribas showed that India topped the list of countries with the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs, outperforming Hong Kong and France which were next on the list. While there’s still a lot of work to do, we’re proud to be part of this trend – supporting a new generation of ambitious female founders in India, with around 30% women in our very first cohort in Bangalore.
Poonkodi’s story represents possibility, or as she puts it herself – seeing just how far someone can really go. She’s not just an inspiration for her two younger sisters, who have gone on to follow in her footsteps and achieve academic excellence in their studies at university, she’s an inspiration to everyone of us at EF and to every young girl aspiring to be an entrepreneur in India. We’re delighted to have an individual as talented as Poonkodi on our first cohort in Bangalore and are excited to see just how far she can really go. We know she is too.