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Ramkripa

Head Of Design,
Ola

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“When I look back, I can safely say that growing up in the lap of nature set the path for the rest of my life. My Dad had a transferable job, so we moved from village to town and town to village every four years. I was raised on the foothills of mountains, along riverbanks and in beautiful fields, which contributed to the education I received.

Because, for me, learning was about taking bullock carts through rice fields, looking up at the clouds as rain poured around us, visiting tiger sanctuaries and going trekking on the Western Ghats. For me, learning was all about doing. During my excursions, I would come across intricate tapestries and gorgeous temples which spurned my love for design.

I ended up pursuing my dreams at BITS Pilani and then IIT Bombay, where I had some of the best times of my life. My friends and I would spend days and nights at the campus, equal parts at work and at play. And three of us would travel from our hostel to the college on my bike—even when I went back years later, the staff there recognised me and said, 

"Oh, you were one of those three girls on the bike!"

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After I graduated from IIT, a placement interview led me to joining the Automotive Design team at Mahindra & Mahindra, where I spent the next 2 decades. It was surreal!

"Many times, I’d just stop and think, ‘I actually design cars for a living.’"

 

 

Once, after one of my early launches, my cousin asked me, ‘What’s the colour of the car?’ And I told her, ‘Lakeside Brown.’ She just said, 'You get to design the colours of cars and give them exotic names. That’s actually your job—how cool!’

"Every day felt like a new adventure. When we were designing the Mahindra XUV 500, we’d based the concept and design on a Cheetah."

 So, a colleague and I decided to do a five-day. Safari in Kenya as a part of our research. I still remember, on our first night in Nairobi, we went out to a nightclub, completely carefree, dancing to the beats of African drums. The next day, we were told, ‘You, two girls, went to a nightclub on your own in Kenya? Are you crazy?!’ I guess we were young, naïve and fearless. 

But the beauty of Kenya, the wilderness, the habitat of the cheetah, the experiences we had there… All of it had a huge influence on the final car design. It made me nostalgic about my childhood—I was back to learning by going out in the wild. The thing about being a designer though, is that it’s not about your art or your inspiration—you’re never designing for yourself. It’s about being able to influence somebody’s life choices. It’s crazy to think that our car went on to launch a whole wave of crossover SUVs in India.

"It was a powerful feeling."

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Over time, my love for nature led to caring more for our environment and sustainability. So, contributing to the acceleration of sustainable mobility seemed to be the obvious choice. That’s what led me all the way to heading the Design division at Ola Electric today.

"It feels like I’m starting all over again—and I can’t be more thrilled!"

It’s been exciting, being a part of a team that wants to change the world. Everyday, as we strive to bring to life the next vehicle that will transform sustainable mobility in India… My only aim is to give back to my roots, give back to nature, because without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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