Sujata Keshavan was the ﬁrst Indian woman to obtain a post-graduate degree in Design. She graduated from Yale University with a Master of Fine Arts degree specializing in Graphic Design in 1987. At Yale, she won the Shickle Collingwood Prize for the most outstanding work in the School of Art & Architecture. Her undergraduate degree was from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
In 1989, Sujata founded Ray+Keshavan Design, widely regarded as India’s most influential design firm and consistently ranked by The Economic Times as India’s top company in the area of Brand Design. Her company was acquired by the WPP Group in 2006 and is now part of the global design agency Brand Union. Sujata stepped down as Chairman in January 2015.
Sujata is regarded as a pioneer in developing the design industry in South Asia. She has worked with industry leaders across sectors, from technology to telecom, healthcare to banking, infrastructure to consumer products, hospitality to retail and education to lifestyle. She has played a pivotal role, after liberalization, in enabling Indian industry to create vibrant brands that can compete in the global business environment. A strong advocate of the transformational power of design, Sujata has brought design into the boardroom by demonstrating through her practice that design can be used to tangibly alter the fortunes of businesses.
In her career of 25 years, Sujata has received numerous awards, and her work has been showcased at international design conferences, including Design Indaba. She has served on the jury of all major design competitions (including Cannes in 2010 and D&AD London, in 2014). She has been following art, craft, design, architecture and culture in India all her life.
Sujata has been named one of India’s 30 most powerful women by India Today and recognised as The Outstanding Woman Professional of the Year by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in 2007. She has been ranked No. 18 on Fortune India’s list of the most powerful women in business.
Sujata has served on Yale University’s Global Council on Reputation and on the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Design and Innovation. A quarter of her work each year has been pro-bono for foundations working in the areas of education, health, art, culture and other democratic citizen’s initiatives.
Based in Bangalore, Sujata is married to writer and historian Ramachandra Guha and has two children. She recently founded Varana Design, a start-up which works at the intersection of artisanal textiles, craft and design.