If you love to travel and explore but hate to pack, you need to meet Hitha Palepu. Hitha is a former consultant who has traveled more than 500,000 cumulative miles around the world, and she's ready to show you how to pack with purpose with her insight and advice at Hitha On The Go. Today, she is sharing a bit about her journey as well as some of her favorite things. Read all about it here!
Location: New York City
Secretly Obsessed With: Crown braids (when I'm too lazy to properly style my hair) and Supergirl
On My Nightstand: A giant tumbler of water, a pile of books (currently: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, You Are A Badass, and White Mughals), my vitamin case, and a silk eye mask.
Last Thing You Read: I'm always reading a nonfiction book and a novel at the same time. I just finished (and loved!) The Big Life by Ann Shoket and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.
How did you get started on your career path?
I like to think it began in college - I majored in both biochemistry and history, and have always been juggling multiple (and seemingly unrelated) jobs since. I began my career in sales at Cisco, and was responsible for some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. After 3 years, I joined my father’s rapidly growing pharmaceutical company, SciDose, and started Hitha On The Go. During that time, I licensed a portfolio valued at $500M, grew my website 100% year over year, and wrote my first book, How To Pack. Today, I'm running my website and promoting my book, investing and advising some incredible companies, and serving on the board of select nonprofits supporting women and girls around the world.
What key elements played into your success?
Discipline is certainly one, and perhaps the most important. I've rarely worked in a formal setting and have had keep myself accountable to get my work done each day. Prioritization goes hand in hand with discipline - it's easy to write out a giant to-do list, but harder to analyze and decide what are the most important items to complete first. The third is organization (which I still struggle with). If my desk, computer screen, or bag is a mess, I can't focus at all. Keeping my physical and digital office clean is a near-daily task, but one that allows me to create my best work.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
I was laid off from Cisco, and it was a demoralizing experience. I overanalyzed everything over the following weeks - my pipeline, all of my deals, and how I interacted with my boss and team. 10% of the entire sales force had been let go. Ultimately, I realized that business is just that - business, not personal - and how important it was to have a side hustle in addition to your day job.
I began freelance writing during my break between Cisco and SciDose, which led me to create Hitha On The Go. Having multiple revenue streams in the 21st century workplace is so important. I may have stumbled across this key lesson, but it’s one that I will never take for granted again.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?
My father, without a doubt. He's one of the most talented pharmaceutical scientists, with over 100 patents and 25 drug approvals to his name. Most importantly, he's incredibly hard working and humble. When he came to the US, his first job was cleaning toilets in a McDonald’s (even though he had a masters degree in chemistry from one of the top universities in the world). He taught me that there is no substitute for hard work, and that a glass of red wine can be the best answer to a difficult problem.
When do you feel most successful?
At the end of a day when I've managed to get all my tactical work done and make progress on a strategic project, spent quality time with my son and husband, and got in a strong workout and read for an hour. Those days, while rare, make me feel like I'm on top of the world. Seeing my book on display in stores and airports is a close second, though!
What’s the best piece of advice you received?
There is no substitute for hard work. Someone will always be smarter than you, more articulate than you, and better at certain things than you. But how hard you work is what YOU can control.
What advice would you give to women looking to enter your industry/space?
In pharma or tech, my advice would be to stay strong. Both are ruthless male-dominated fields, and incredibly intimidating. Set your personal boundaries early and stick with them, and don't be afraid to politely say “I will not do that” or “that is an inappropriate request”. If all else fails, reply “if I were a man, would you ask me that question?”
When it comes to blogging, it's best to be your most authentic self. I started my blog when there was just a handful of digital media outlets, and well before the influencer bubble began. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that authentic, thoughtful content will always win. I also recommend writing a one-page business plan to outline your goals, your differentiators, and to capture your growth over time.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
2015 was a full year - I gave birth to my son, wrote my book, and launched a company. All three are major accomplishments, but I'm most proud of just surviving that year.