We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonu Ratra and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sonu, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
There are a few crucial lessons I have learnt through my career and during the course of founding and growing our business. The one that has stayed with me is that with success come even greater responsibilities. When you put special emphasis on giving back to your community, society and the environment, it directly impacts your bottom line. This couldn’t be more true given where we are today in history and in time.
As we built our company into a multi-million, award winning organization, we have always believed that doing good is instrumental to the growth of our business. Employees want to work for companies that have a purpose and mission built around social responsibilities. Customers want to partner with businesses who mirror their own values.
Over the last many years, amongst other giving back campaigns and efforts, we have grown our ‘Women Back to Work’ that has a profound impact on the lives and careers of those we support. We are proud of work with orphanages, women entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Afghanistan and more recently our work with Racial, Justice and Equity efforts.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
This is my company’s 20th year in business. We have received many accolades and are on a path to unprecedented growth in our industry. We have built a company that will last and leave a legacy. The company was built on our core values and our purpose of Delivering 3X Karma.
We have an award winning culture that we are proud of. Our perks are ones that truly matter for our employees – for instance, one of our perks on a cleaning service that is sent to our employees homes is ranked amongst Forbes top 10 employer perks in the country. There has been challenges along the way but with the right team and people in place -we have overcome hurdles and continued to grow. We owe our success to the people that are a part of our Akraya family.
What I am most proud of is our Women Back to Work Program. The program has impacted lives and careers of thousands of women, and their families. The program creates systematic pathways to facilitate the re-entry of women into the workforce and enables leaders and companies to hire exceptional and diverse talent.
Women Back to Work has over the years become the nations leading Return to Work Program and I am proud of what we have accomplished.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Every year I host 2 or 3 women entrepreneurs from Rwanda and Afghanistan ( except for 2020 due to the Pandemic) as a part of my work with the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women and the Peace through Business. They spend an exact week with me. Besides work, my goal is that they truly experience our Golden State in all its glory, make lasting memories and have a great time.
Here are a few fun things that are always on the itinerary
– A full day being a tourist in San Francisco – Driving to the Golden Gate bridge and stopping for the most magnificent views of the city and the bridge. Visiting the charming town of Sausalito, driving through Lombard street- the crookedest street in SF, and eating the world’s best Chocolate fudge Sundae at Ghirardelli chocolate shop. The trip always ends with eating at Pakwan that serves the best kabobs.
– Hiking is always on the list given that there are hundreds of trails right in our backyard. A short hike at Rancho San Antonio, or a longer hike to the historic and highest peak in Santacruz Mountains. I mean, there is a a favorite local winery Pichetti that has a trail that runs next to it so a picnic lunch and a glass of wine is always an option.
– Silicon Valley is hotbed of innovation. This is where exciting start ups made it big. We always find time to tour the Google Campus, or Facebook’s very own ice cream/sweet shop (courtesy friends who welcome us), or exploring the latest gadgets at the Apple Store on Infinite loop. No visit is complete without visiting the HP Garage, considered the birthplace of Technology or the modest 1950’s ranch style home and garage of Steve job that is now a protected historical site and a landmark.
– A week long trip always includes some personally cooked meals for my guests – some lip smacking chicken curry, vegetables and the best home made Rasgullas.
– We always find time to hang out my amazing girl-friends who either welcome us into their homes or we all hop over to our favorite Mountain View restaurant Cascal.
– if we have an extra couple days, a quick trip to Lake Tahoe is always a possibility.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I find inspiration in the small things – the stories that i see unravel in life and the conversations I have with amazing people.
My family and friends have always been supportive of the work I do. People around me are very kind to me and i am inspired by their goodness.
I find inspiration when I am walking my dog, hiking with my friends. My shout out is truly to those people who do something for others without claiming for recognition or praise or to those who show kindness in the smallest of acts.