The C-Suite: Ankur Gopal
Ankur Gopal, PhD
Interapt focuses on implementing new technologies in the workplace, enriching customer and employee engagement, solving operational challenges, and securing new opportunities for companies.
How did your childhood prepare you for your work today?
I was born and grew up in Owensboro, KY to parents who immigrated from India. My parents believed that education and hard work paved the way to success. They are strong role models of this belief; my father is an engineer and my mother is a physician. Though my parents were strict when it came to education, they were lenient about letting me try new things and teaching me not to be afraid of failure.
I’ll give you a good example of the level of discipline my parents expected of me. When I was in Junior High School, I was not doing so well in my math class. My father would wake me up at 5:30 in the morning to review my homework and tutor me in math. Like any teenager, I hated being woken up so early so I studied and did well in the class so I could sleep in as late as possible.
My parents also encouraged my entrepreneurial spirit. For Christmas one year, I asked for a tennis racket stringer. My siblings and I played competitive tennis and I wanted to save money by stringing our own rackets and make money by stringing other player’s rackets. My father bought me the stringer and my first business was born. I also learned business concepts from joining Junior Achievement as a youth. It changed my life and I now serve on the Louisville JA Board of Directors to give other young people a chance to learn all aspects of business.
How do you define success?
“Some people define success by how much money they make, others are driven purely by the altruistic aspect of it, but I believe true success is somewhere in-between.” “If I had to describe myself, I would say I am an ‘altruistic capitalist’ and I define success as ‘impact’”, and like my parents, I try to role model my ideologies. One major example of putting “my money where my mouth is” is how my staff and I have made a multi-year commitment to training and creating technology jobs in Eastern Kentucky.
“We have made an enormous impact in Eastern Kentucky by offering over 1000 applicants the opportunity to be tested for the chance to get paid internships and eventually technology jobs at Interapt.” Out of all the applications 53 people were chosen to be assessed through a series of tests and 35 passed and are in the process of getting high-paying jobs. All these people continue to live in Eastern Kentucky, an area that is severely economically and emotionally depressed because of the demise of the coal industry. “This is a “‘win-win’ situation because it helps Interapt grow and scale with a well-trained workforce, and creates hi-tech jobs in the community. This is, in my opinion, a perfect example of altruistic capitalism.”
What are four criteria that you believe are essential in leadership?
Passion, Empathy, Vision, Execution
What is one piece of advice you would give a young person who wants to become a future business leader?
“I believe that young people interested in business should study entrepreneurship. I also believe that everyone needs to find good mentorship, so you need to find people who can help you in business. Hold your mentors’ ‘feet to the fire’ so they are actually helping you and dedicating the time needed to make a difference.” In other words, make sure you pick someone who can give you “productive mentorship”.
Someday when they write your eulogy, you hope they say . . ..
“Here lies Ankur Gopal, he was a doer, not a talker.”
Diane Tobin, Ph. D. is currently the Special Assistant to the President at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. She is the former Executive Director of two non-profits, a co-owner of a for-profit business and a former Dean of the College of Business and Communication at Spalding University.