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Dipti Varghese: A woman leading in visual communication shares her secret to success

Written by Staff Writer

October 4, 2022


By Lize Hayward

As a small business owner celebrating her 21st year in business, Dipti Varghese faced various challenges since establishing her business as a young woman of colour in the early days of our democracy. Having survived two recessions and a pandemic, while earning an array of local and global clients and awards, what is her secret to success?

Her unique blend of skills shaped by the world’s best teachers and experience of more than 30 years on two continents – from India to Japan and South Africa – created her philosophy in action. As MD and Creative Director of Design@Bay in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).  Dipti believes in the creation of an improved world through thoughtful, conscious and strategic visual communication. 

Think global, act local

Her postgraduate studies and research in India helped her to acquire both global and local perspectives. “The complexity of multi-cultural, multilingual countries with deep historical fissures taught me that design has a broad, unifying and effective role to play in solving certain societal challenges. The power of design is not about selling products, but about building bridges between businesses and their audiences to ensure mutual beneficial relationships,” Dipti said.

A combination of skills

Dipti regards a combination of excellent strategic and design skills as a must to consistently deliver excellent customer service.  “This allowed me to break into the global market, consistently acquiring new projects.”                                    

On-time delivery

“My exposure to the Japanese culture has taught me time consciousness, precision and attention to detail. It is this culture of hard work, humility and openness that I have established at Design@Bay. Our innate ability to deliver on time is an absolute strength.”

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Resilience, relevance & lean financial management

She believes that resilience was key to her and her small team’s survival during difficult economic times.  “It is all about recognising the stifling conditions, identifying opportunities, and adapting to the challenges by acquiring new skills and clients. We’ve maintained an agile approach – constantly adapting to technology, remaining relevant in an evolving business environment.  Lean financial management is a given.” 

Nurturing young minds

Dipti regards it as important to consciously build a conducive environment in which lasting relationships thrive, both with clients and employees. “I have appointed university graduates as my staff with sound qualifications. As leader and mentor, I’ve been nurturing these young minds into multi-skilled and well-grounded individuals.”  

Valuable advice to women

“Women have a unique approach of compassion and empathy to problem-solving. They have an inherent ability to derive clarity in a complex and challenging environment. Nurture these strengths, be agile and adapt to new thinking and approaches. Stay out of your comfort zone – it encourages growth.”

The woman behind the leader in visual communication

Dipti’s motto is “Live your life with a level head. Success and failure are the two sides of the same coin. A healthy balance is living on both sides with a level head. Make peace with the challenges thrown at you and focus on living in the moment. She shares her passion for design with her husband, who is an architect and industrial designer. They have two daughters.   

 A journey of 21 years

Dipti founded Design@Bay in 2000, after working as a graphic designer in India, Japan and South Africa. She developed a parallel career as a leader in the entrepreneurial and education spheres, also working as a senior lecturer at Nelson Mandela University. Some of her past and present local clients include three Special Economic Zones in the economic development sector (Coega, East London and Tshwane Automotive) and various universities in the higher education sector. Globally she and her team have completed various projects for *WHO, UNCDF, UNICEF and UNHCR over the last few years. Dipti holds a Master of Design Degree and various business management, project management and small business development qualifications.


*For more, check out our bumper 17th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here. 

*Stay up to date with all the latest on Top Women in SA, by signing up to the Standard Bank Top Women newsletter – here

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