There aren’t many women as focused and driven as Shilpa Mehta. In celebration of women’s month we found out a little more about this stylish Umhlanga entrepreneur, who is as much at home in a company that produces military equipment and car tracking devices as she is in an elegant restaurant.
There have been many promises to transform Durban into a smart city, but it is entrepreneurs like Shilpa Mehta who can truly make it a reality. As the co-owner of tech and electronics company Production Logix and the first female president of the Durban chapter of the Global Entrepreneurs Organisation, Shilpa, it seems, was always destined for greatness.
Born and raised in Durban, Shilpa studied at UCT where she majored in finance and accounting. She finished her studies at auditing firm KPMG before joining investec Bank.
Realising she wasn’t fulfilled in the somewhat dry world of accounting, Shilpa decided to leave the world of finances and join her family business, Uniprint (which was started by her great grandfather 95 years ago) in 2014.
“Being a CA gave me an excellent grounding but I knew from the beginning that accounting wasn’t my passion. After completing my articles, I went into investment banking. Whilst I was exposed to many talented individuals and learnt a lot about deal structuring, debt funding and property, I still felt that I needed to create something of my own,” she remembers.
Shilpa put her experience to good use in the family business, which started building itself into a JSE-listed powerhouse. But still, something was missing. In 2016 she and her industrial engineer brother Ushir started looking for their own business.
Together they bought Production Logix. With its head office and state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Westmead, the company assembles printed circuit (PC) boards – which drive almost every electronic device today. Each can have up to 350 different components which are attached to cards using either sophisticated automation or by highly trained and skilled staff.
Not only do they provide full turnkey solutions that extend from actually sourcing and buying the individual components to assembling the PC boards to loading the software, the company also prototypes new designs.
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I guess I was destined to be one. When we get together as a family, we either talk about travel or business. Even when we are at the dinner table we have detailed discussions about new developments and strategy, what the big challenges are and what needs to be done to get through them. So, this has been ingrained in me since childhood and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” she smiles.
Besides her business, travel and good food are Shilpa’s other two passions. “I’m a foodie and a vegetarian and one of my favourites spots on a Friday night is Al Firenze. The Melanzane Rosti is my favourite. It’s the best place to catch up with friends and unwind after a busy week. I also love a lazy Sunday lunch at Bel Punto or the Oyster Box Hotel, where the sea views are gorgeous and the atmosphere is peaceful and relaxing.”
When she gets the odd bit of time off Shilpa enjoys early morning runs on the Umhlanga promenade or a cycle over the weekends finished off with a coffee at African Roots, Bike and Bean or Tiki Tonga.
Text: Leah Shone