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  Ashok Soota, Wipro Infotech Meeting Point (1999)  

Their mother, once told the children that they were born with roller skates. And later, they grew wings and now, jet across the globe. One of her sons does just that. And quite appropriately, his door number in 6th Block, Koramangala, is 747. Ashok Soota, from being Group President of Wipro Infotech - the No.2 IT company today - has recently been inducted to the board of Wipro as Vice Chairman. Having brought up the Infotech Division from scratch to what it is today, it will continue to remain in his care.

Ashok SootaAshok Soota's father was in the Indian Army and this meant, frequent postings to various places. But to young Ashok and his brother and sisters, it was fun. They had to adapt themselves to a new school, new friends and in fact, helped him to adapt to rapid changes fast. Prior to his joining Wipro Infotech, Ashok Soota was with Burmah Shell , where he started his career. A year later, he switched over to DCM as a senior management trainee and from then on, there was no looking back. With 19 years at DCM and the next 14 years at the helm of Wipro Infotech, he is regarded as one of the finest and revered managers to work with. A decision maker, sharp and analytical - all this he is. He is also immaculate, soft-spoken and a thorough gentleman, if you ever met one.

In May 1984, Ashok Soota moved in to Bangalore - Koramangala, in fact - from Hyderabad. The house where he lived in Banjara Hills at Hyderabad overlooked a lake and he wondered whether something like that could be found in Koramangala. And he did, in the 1st block, although that was short lived, because very soon other houses began to appear and the lake could no longer be seen. In any case, he moved out in a year's time, having constructed his own house on the auction plot he had purchased and where he presently resides.

Door number notwithstanding, the house is easily identifiable - there is greenery all around. Creepers, potted plants, trees and the park next door acts as a chorus to the pleasant surroundings. And as one walks into the elegant living room, the man's character and attitude is revealed somewhat. The first thing that strikes you is the blue coloured painting of Ganesha, in S.G.Vasudev's unmistakable style. Reflects on his taste for the arts. Then there are dozens of miniature idols and an assortment of artefacts displayed all around, each placed in an orderly manner. Significant of the man's attitude - knows precisely what he is doing. There isn't any plush wall-to-wall carpeting. Just two small-sized carpets. Indicative of the fact that the man has simple tastes and detests anything loud. Sofas and chairs are comfortable and not the types where one sinks into slumber. Simple. Yet, graceful. Like the man himself.

Ashok SootaHe loves Koramangala and if he were given a choice to move to another locality, he wouldn't accept the option. Because, it's reasonably quiet, less traffic, although it has increased over the years, but still, within control. It's less polluted and he being yet another person who has an on-going relationship with Nature, has fresh air to inhale during his morning walks. However, of late, due to pressure of work, he has to opt for evening walks. He likes to spend whatever little time he can get for himself, within himself, Nature and his dogs. And occasionally, takes off to his farm on the outskirts of Bangalore, far from the madding crowd.

Ashok Soota is single and therefore, has no family of his own. His family is his team of people with whom he works. He derives immense satisfaction by interacting with them. And he sees this happen in Koramangala also , when he gets invited to join in the celebrations and festivities on say, Ganesha or Diwali festival days, in the nearby lanes and streets. "It's a kind of network, when people get together on common platforms. But this should also extend to other issues as well. For example, people should take up issues like how to improve parks and roads. Eventually, these contribute to keep the surroundings clean and healthy. And the Koramangala website should also focus on these common issues and bring people together," he advises us.

And what about his interaction with the other big names from the IT industry who also live in Koramangala? Do they meet each other in their homes or drop in if they happen to be passing by? "No, that doesn't happen. For one thing, one doesn't know whether anyone of them is at home. And secondly, we do meet each other so often at various forums that there is hardly any need to meet up otherwise," he answers. "Nothing to do with being competitors," he is quick to add. Competition or not. It is healthy and Ashok Soota has gone on record by stating that they have respect and admiration for other major IT companies. This is further borne out by the fact that he is willing to join in with some of the other IT company heads, at a get-together being proposed by koramangala.com, and bring these stalwarts, face to face with some of the youngsters in Koramangala longing for a chance to meet their idols of the IT industry.

Meeting Ashok Soota was an experience. It's not often that one gets to rub shoulders with a top personality such as him. Yet, he gives you respect, no matter who you are. At the gate, when we bid adieu, the door number 747 attracted attention, once more. True, Ashok Soota is perpetually winging across all corners of the globe. But when it comes to home, he has no airs about him. His feet are very much on the ground. A firm head on his shoulders. A pleasant smile on his face. We are indeed fortunate that Ashok Soota is one of us - a Koramangalite.

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