Coming from the tamil community myself, I feel very humbled and empowered to be writing about the power house Sumu Sathi. Sumu Sathi is the Founder/ Producer/ Host for Mandraa TV. Sumu’s passion for the arts started during her teenage years, when she became a dancer and then continued to act in several stage plays in the community. She is a name to reckon with in Toronto, bringing together the South Asian community.
AN ASPIRING QUOTE FROM YOURSELF
“Make choices that compliment your life, not complicate it”
YOUR PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND
I have a B.Sc from University of Toronto and I am a full time Social Assistance Worker for The Regional Municipality of York.
YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION AND CAREER
I am the founder of Mandraa TV, an online South Asian Lifestyle TV. On the side, I am a start-up coach that helps individuals transform their dream turn into a business by connecting them to the right resources and help convert their identity into a visible brand.
WHAT DROVE YOU TO CHOOSE THIS CAREER
Mandraa TV is the baby from a marriage between Social Work & Media. Few years back, I realized my passion is media; my strong love for the community wanted to create a platform for progressive thinking South Asians to tell their story. I wanted to highlight the success stories of South Asians beyond the image that mainstream media has created. We are more than refugees, Bollywood films, immigrants, and spicy food.
I also saw that the TV networks in the South Asian communities were only speaking in the native South Asian languages and were only watched by an audience of about 45. The 2nd generation English speaking South Asians do not have a fair representation. I also didn’t see any locally produced creative shows with local talents. The local TVs still depend on content from India, but it was our local businesses that were funding these platforms. Why not hold the pen to write our own stories? Mandraa is my pen to write the stories of dynamic South Asians that are breaking barriers and creating waves around the world.
BIGGEST OBSTACLE IN LIFE AND YOUR ADVICE ON TACKLING ROADBLOCK TO SUCCESS
My biggest obstacle is being a South Asian woman in a patriarchal thinking society and running a business in a male dominated industry. I am the first Tamil woman to own a production company. There have been many an instance where businesses don’t respond to me when I reach out. The community is very closely knit and most decisions are made by men in suits over whiskey. My advice to anyone that is seeing road blocks is to keep moving forward. Speak up about your experiences and don’t stop. When I started speaking up, the forward thinking community showed their support and started seeing Mandraa and what it represents as the future.
TRIUMPHS YOU EXPERIENCED WITHIN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE
I became the first Canadian Tamil woman to launch an online TV that welcomes women and men equally. The love that I get from my boss ladies is unbelievable and they inspire me to break the glass ceiling on a daily. I am also very proud to say that I had the opportunity to interview our Toronto mayor John Tory, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn and our honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during my media career. I was chosen as a panelist for ‘What’s Her Story’ – the first Tamil female entrepreneur’s event in Canada by Ideal Incubator in 2015. Recently I was selected as a woman in media to be part of TEN Women Network (Tamil Entrepreneurs Network) which is launching in 2016.
WHAT MAKES YOU A MENTOR?
Mentorship is something that is very close to my heart. It is the reason I became a start-up coach to help individuals that have a business vision but not the ‘how’. I don’t have any media or business background, but I have been involved in the community from a young age. Growing up in a high-risk neighborhood in Scarborough allowed me to learn the struggles of street life. Being one of the very few that got into university from my circle of friends allowed me to understand how academics mold reality into life. I am blessed to experience both these worlds. I was thrown into entrepreneurship without a plan because Mandraa was a school project that took off, but taking risks without fear made me fail multiple times and enjoy the ride. I can mentor individuals to rock the boat occasionally to enjoy the journey of entrepreneurship and life. I can teach that not everything in life goes by your plan and there is no cookie cutter model for you to reach to the zenith of your potential.
ADVICE YOU WOULD PROVIDE TO INDIVIDUALS LOOKING TO FOLLOW SIMILAR CAREER PATHS
Take a Risk. So many people ask me what my strategy is. To tell you the truth, my biggest success is building relationships. I am able to connect with many entrepreneurs, even the ones that have had trouble with the law and now are running a successful business, because they used their experience to create something inspiring. Don’t judge people based on their educational background or their past, don’t plan a lot in fear of failure, donot network without a purpose and …. follow your dreams!
YOUR HEROES (fictional or non-fictional)
Oprah Winfrey is my hero. My friends make fun of me and call me Soprah because I love the brand she has created in this world. She was told in the media industry that she didn’t have a TV face, but her persistence has made her one of the most inspiring inspirational ladies in the world. I relate to her journey in many ways in terms of her struggles with body image, coming from an oppressed community, facing gender discrimination, experiencing sexual abuse and she made it!
YOUR ULTIMATE CAREER GOALS
I want Mandraa to represent the new South Asians in the world and tell their stories the way they want it told and not how a media outlet wants to run the story. My personal goal is to have a talk show that expresses the rich cultures of South Asians while highlighting entrepreneurs, artists and visionaries. My mantra is that my Mandraa will stop at NOTHING!