FOCUS #5 Kavitha Varathan

Eindhoven ademt techniek, innovatie, creativiteit, en kent een no nonsens mentaliteit van samenwerken en aanpakken. 
Maar wie zijn de innovatoren op gebied van kunst, fotografie, design en cultuur die vol toewijding en, als het nodig is, met een ongelooflijk lange adem deze stad zo uniek maken? In de maandelijkse rubriek Focus zijn de innovators van de stad het woord. Zij vertellen je wat hen raakt wanneer ze uit zijn in Eindhoven. 

Founder of Expat Spouses Initiative (ESI) Kavitha Varathan aspires to make an impact for partners of international knowledge workers living in Eindhoven region. When she arrived in the Netherlands with her husband Thiru back in 2008, she continued her career path as an architect and later on she added a Master degree in Architecture at TU/E. Eindhoven feels like home for Kavitha: ‘I love Eindhoven because I have met fantastic people here, and I love it that most of the residents find a place in the story of this self-made city. I even love the architectural backdrop because the industrial legacy that stood testimony to the rise and glory of Philips seamlessly connects with the soul and vibe of the city today.” Kavitha is truly motivated to make a difference.

Kavitha Varathan, born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, founder of Expat Spouses Initiative. She married Thiru around the same time as they both made The Netherlands there new home. Together they have two daughters; Diya and Taanya. Kavitha loves to take long drives and museums because it helps her relax as well as find inspiration. I like to listen to a lot of music 

Theater Film
I am a big movie buff and I like several genres including drama, science fiction, fantasy but especially fantasy, noir & dark comedy. Couple of my all-time favorites are Fisher King and Pulp Fiction. I remember I was thrilled about Plaza Futura when I first moved here, but nowadays I take the girls to Frozen or The Secret Life of Pets.

Alone/ Accompanied
Certainly together, I have never been alone to the movies.

Proposed/ Selfmade 
I like to plan, when travelling for example, I like to do research.

I like to read, especially when I travel. I remember reading Anne Franks Diary when I first arrived in the Netherlands. Anne Frank writes about keeping time in her attic hide-out with the church bells that chimed every hour. I remember I heard church bells chime and I was reading in my attic. It is an experience to read a native author in a new place and discover little details through her eyes. While growing up, as a family me and my sister often joined my father on his business trips. I meant I often missed school, but it also meant we had invaluable freedom, time and opportunity, to learn what we liked and do things differently. Looking back, I always wanted to make an impact, to leave a legacy for posterity. As an architect, my focus was to design buildings that stand the test of time. Life had different plans for me though.

With three friends, who were also designers, we started Expat Spouses Initiative, because we personally found it hard to navigate the professional landscape in the Netherlands as an international and a spouse. It started as a social experiment - although our goal was to connect highly skilled accompanying partners to local jobs & opportunities. We did not start as a HR-solution. We believed in the power of a community.  ”When you meet socially, you never talk work, right? But when you make friends, you do your best to help each other out.” I won the TU/e Marina Van Damme Beurs, which gave us a head start to start with community building . When the first jobs were enabled, it was a chain reaction - we heard from so many who had lost their career and identity as a spouse. We decided to roll-up our sleeves and do something about it. We set-up as an entity three years back, which enables companies to hire from us, as well build HR partnerships that address gaps that two-career international couples face. We focus on making every talent build a future in this region.

We are connectors - we connect people, companies and culture. Culture Connects, for example, is a co-creation with Uit In Eindhoven, where we connect new locals with locals within the cultural community. Eindhoven is a beautiful place to socially integrate, if one is enabled. Along with stakeholders, we are invested in enabling a new and connected local.

Personally, Expat Spouses Initiative has become less of a job and more of a calling, probably because it converges personal and professional values. Always a committed feminist, I appreciate the opportunity to advance the cause of accompanying spouses, who are very often women. I enjoy the journey as an entrepreneur and the steep learning curve that comes with it. I still call on my design instincts as I create, maybe not buildings, but the future with other inspired stakeholders. Most of all, I find helping people find their way ahead, very rewarding – and that’s what I want to focus more on.