Every young person out of college, at some point has aspired to become an entrepreneur. I did too, but till very recently, it remained just that, an abstract thought. I began working right after college, first with the consulting firm KPMG, and later with organizations such as Hewlett-Packard and UiPath. I had the opportunity to work on projects that truly challenged me, had the privilege of working with some outstanding professionals who became part of my team and managers who helped me become the professional (good and bad) that I am. I sincerely believe that during these 20 plus years, I was constantly moving forward, professionally as well as personally and I am grateful for that.
And then life shut a door and opened a window! The organization I was working for, underwent a restructuring and 400 people, including myself, were laid off. Over the course of my professional career, I have sat on the other end of the table and had the unenviable task of telling a former team member that (for whatever reason), their services were no longer required and have always tried to do it with as much empathy as possible. Now, on the other side of the table now, I knew my response had to reflect the person that I am.
Everyone around, advised me to take some time off and think about what I wanted to do next. It’s a bit difficult to rationalize or explain but within the next 72 hours, it was clear to me that I was ready to give wings to that abstract thought I had nurtured all those years – start something on my own.
The idea appealed to me for many reasons – the flexibility it offered, the opportunity to be my own boss (don’t tell my wife!), the sheer excitement, and also perhaps inspiration from those who have walked this path before. But if I am honest, I did it because of an overriding desire to build a company (another team) that I could be proud of.
Proud, not necessarily in terms of how profitable the company is, but how it will allow me to do the things I have always wanted to do and do it in a manner that I have always wanted to do them in – Creating sustainable value for employees, customers and communities, through ethical and responsible business practices; working with integrity, and empathy, forging close relationships with all stakeholders and committing to diversity and inclusion as we pursue excellence through innovation and technology.
I believe a company is made up of great teams, and people are its most significant assets. Our success lies in the relationships we build and our legacy is the people we nurture over the years, who carry it forward.
When one is changing the course of one’s whole life, it needs to be firmly based on the belief in oneself and the skills and abilities acquired over time. While financial security is a critical factor in taking such a decision, I think it’s equally important to have the emotional and moral support of friends and family. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster ride and one has to be prepared for the highs and lows that go with it, days of great joy and successes and days when nothing may go right. I should be prepared to be CEO, CFO, Executive, Assistant and Office Boy all rolled into one and find the thrill in doing each of these roles well. The work is hard, arduous, sometimes boring but also infinitely rewarding.
What would I tell 21-year-old me? To have patience, to develop skills that will need time to strengthen, to realize that the only way to learn, is to roll up your sleeves, to recognize and appreciate talent, to nurture employees and team mates, to build a repository of experiences both good and bad to draw lessons from and finally to know when to seize the day.
As I step into this new chapter, I am grateful for every relationship (personal and professional), that has led me to this point. From here on, I only see mountains and summits ahead that I cannot wait to scale.