I still remember the day 15 years ago when I first arrived to the United States from my native India with two big suitcases and full of big plans to build a successful life for my family. Throughout the years, I gained experience working at large corporations, then became a woman entrepreneur in charge of my own business, Akraya, Inc., a booming Silicon Valley staffing and managed solutions firm. However, during my long journey, I never once forgot my roots and the people that helped me get where I am today.

My childhood was not an easy one. My mother has always been my primary role model. In spite of being paralyzed from a spinal cord tumor, she raised two daughters, my sister and me, to face the world and its hardships with a smile. She provided precious education and guidance for her family although she was completely bedridden herself. This determination and positive energy helped me through my life and motivated me to never give up.

In fact, one of the most important things my mother taught me was to become fearless. Her strength that could not be shaken even in the shadow of illness inspired me to never fear trying new things. This philosophy set me free to explore each and every opportunity life offered, including new ventures like founding and building a business from the ground up. My husband Amar and I founded Akraya in 2001, and we have grown rapidly since inception. Today, our annual revenue has reached $32.5 million, and we employ 300 people nationwide.

I truly believe in preserving one’s integrity in business even under the toughest circumstances. Respect for other people, our employees, clients and consultants, has also been a value guiding me. I am proud that Akraya gained a great reputation for being a very transparent and straightforward supplier and employer in all areas of business.

One piece of advice I would give to young women professionals starting their journey towards success is to never underestimate the strength of female friendships. A close-knit group of girlfriends can become an anchor guiding you through difficult situations, both professionally and personally. I think of the lessons learned from women mentors and friends as larger lessons in life. These women helped me understand the importance of building my career on my beliefs and never compromising on the values dear to me.