Ambiga Subramanian is a name to reckon with in the Indian women entrepreneurial world. Not only is she the first woman to ever head an Indian unicorn (Mu Sigma), a recent list published by research firm Hurun enlists Subramanian as the youngest of India’s eight richest self-made women.
Starting her career in 1998, the 42-year-old womenpreneur has collected a net worth of over Rs 2,500 crore over the year. Appearing on the Hurun India rich list 2017 at fourth position, the former CEO of Mu Sigma finds company among her peers Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson of biotechnology company Biocon, Vembu Radha, director at software products maker Zoho, and Sheela Gautam, chairperson emeritus of mattress-maker Sheela Foam in the top 4.
The Hurun India rich list ranks Indians having more than Rs 1,000 crore in wealth.
This isn’t Subramanian’s first time appearing on such a popular list. Last year, she found herself a place in India’s most powerful businesswomen list by Forbes, which is considered as a great honour in the business community. Subramanian started her career with telecom firm Motorola, where she held her ground for eight straight years. She joined her former husband’s company Mu Sigma in 2007 as a director for innovation.
In the nine years that she worked at Mu Sigma, Subramanian had quite a journey. Starting off just as director for innovation, she went on to become the firm’s head of talent management in mere three years. In 2012, Subramanian was offered the position of chief operating officer (COO), which she eventually traded up for CEO position in 2016.
Considered as the world’s largest provider of analytics and decision solutions, Mu Sigma was started by Subramanian’s former husband Dhiraj Rajaram in 2004 by selling their home in Illinois and putting in $200,000 of his personal savings. The firm’s name is derived from the statistical terms “Mu (μ)” and “Sigma (σ)” which symbolises the mean and the standard deviation respectively of a probability distribution. Prior to venturing out on his own with Mu Sigma, Rajaram worked with consultancies such as Booz Allen Hamilton and PwC etc.
Over the years, the Bengaluru headquartered company has went on to achieve quite a lot. Five years ago, in 2012, the firm became India’s first profitable unicorn after it successfully crossed the $100 million revenue mark. The firm, which currently employs over 4,000 workers and serves 140 of the Fortune 500 companies, has raised over $211 million so far in seven rounds of funding. It has the backing some of the biggest names in the business such as Sequoia, Mastercard and General Atlantic. It is currently estimated to have a valuation of $1.5 billion.
For FY 2015-16, the company earned a profit of Rs 462.9 crore, which was a significant 22% increase from the year before. However, last year was particularly rocky for the company following Subramanian and Rajaram’s decision to get divorced. Anticipating a potential power struggle, several senior executives started to jump the ship in pursuit of a stable ground. This whole scenario resulted in a huge loss for the company as its revenues fell from $184 million in 2015 to $165 million in the year ending December 2016.
Eventually, the once power couple came up with a plan to save the company from going under when Rajaram decided to buyout Subramanian’s stake in the company. Following the divorce, Subramanian sold her 24% stake in Mu Sigma to her former husband Dhiraj Rajaram, who then went on to buy stock options held by his employees to finally emerge as the controlling shareholder of the firm he started 13 years ago.
Following the highly publicised divorce, Subramanian has mostly remained out of newspaper headlines and hasn’t announced any new ground-breaking ventures. On the other end, Mu Sigma is finally bouncing back after a bad year and is now on track to hit the $180 million revenue mark this year.
This development was first reported in Quartz.