Einstein once said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” This dictum is something I firmly believe in. From a very early age I was focused on getting learning and understanding the worth of the activities or the work I was involved in. Whether it was sports or academia, I made sure that my dominant focus was on getting better at it with each coming day and rising to the occasion when the need came.
My parents have always been there to guide me along the way but they have never been overbearing. Their trust in me to do the right thing, manage my own time, make my own decisions and mistakes and consequently learn from them has augmented my growth in a crucial manner. I have always had a passion for sports and for that reason I delved into many different kinds from a young age. From learning rollerskating and swimming while I was in Kindergarten, I went on to have lessons in Taekwondo during school. While I wasn’t mature enough to understand the nuances of Taekwondo at that age, but I did learn the importance of being punctual, be self disciplined, and manage my time to reach the classroom on time. Simultaneously, I started going to the cricket academy at my school, and like many of us do in India, I had already learnt cricket from playing it regularly with my friends at home. Or I thought I had. At the academy, I discovered the very basic things which I wasn’t doing right – my grip of the bat/ball, my stance etc. It was an enlightening experience as I learnt how to unfamiliarise the things I had already acquired and was accustomed to and learn the proper way of doing them. That experience helped me a lot and still does. Later on, I explored many other sports like Basketball, Football, Table Tennis. I especially enjoyed representing my school’s Basketball team. It taught me how to work with a team and still maintain your individuality by shining through.
As a student, I had always excelled at studies, performing well in olympiads and competitions, even though my interests were inclined towards sports most of the time. I was still able to stay towards the top of my class. In retrospect, I believe it was something that kept me going. Though both my parents are doctors, and both my elder sisters eventually chose Medicine, I knew from a very early age, that Medicine is something which doesn’t interest me. Having learnt from my childhood through my ever changing choices in which sport I followed, I knew I wanted to pursue a career which was dynamic and combined my two other interests – Mathematics and Sciences. I spent a lot of time watching Discovery and was instantly fascinated and intrigued by the exciting techniques being used in Engineering across different fields to solve a problem. I eventually decided to take up Non-Medical Sciences. Now, I can firmly say that it was and still is a perfect fit for me.
Eventually, I decided to take up coaching at Vidyamandir, which was a great fit for me and not only because they had classes once a week but because they provided the ideal guidance and expected the students to master the concepts that were taught in the class. I quickly realised the task ahead of me, seeing the equally sharp and focussed peers at the institute. I took the competition in my stride and worked hard towards my goal. Along the journey, I also learnt to introspect and to push myself the extra mile. I had my eyes set on one of the old IIT’s and I was quite confident of getting into them. I was so focussed on them, that my parents often tell me now how scared they were as I did not have a Plan B. Having never experienced failure in my life before that, I never thought of having a Plan B. Thankfully, when the results were out, I didn’t need to have it. Looking back now, with a few minor setbacks in life, it seems naive of me to not have had a Plan B. But I believe that at the time, that my confidence in my own abilities and laser like focus was what drove me to work that much harder towards my goal.
On 21st June, 2013, I finally realized my dream. I was going to be a part of India’s premier Engineering colleges with the finest stream. The reason why I decided to take up Electrical Engineering in IIT Delhi was because it is a discipline which covers a lot of other disciplines. At the same time, IIT Delhi’s curriculum allowed a certain flexibility in choosing your courses which undoubtedly helps in shaping your career eventually.
I entered college, unsure of what I wanted to do next in my life. But I knew the next 4 years were going to play a major part in shaping how I transformed & evolved as a person. Soon enough, I realised the very open setting of a college, starting with the curriculum and extending to how you want to utilise your time and commitments, and the freedom you have to explore different and new fields, academically and otherwise. Shortly, I developed a keen interest in Computer Science (CS) , because it challenged me to think about a problem as it was a combination of solving problems both rigorously and smartly. I realised that I wasn’t always the smartest person in the room and I learnt to embrace the same and inculcate the values I lacked. As I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to, I started exploring my options and along the way, I made some mistakes but I also learnt from them.
Internships played a large part of my college life. After the first year of my college, I decided to take up a course in Strategic Management at the London School Of Economics. The challenge of how one went about analysing a business model qualitatively and quantitatively intrigued me a lot. Aside from learning about the same, the course helped me a lot to grow as a person. It helped me come out of my shell as an introvert, as I learnt to understand the different cultures from the people all around the world. But most importantly, I recognised the importance of Networking as you move forward in your life. And although I loved the course and the problem solving involved, I wanted to do something more with application of my quantitative knowledge. After second year of my college, having taken a lot more courses in CS, I decided to take up a research internship in the field of Machine Learning (ML) at IIT Delhi only. I found the field of ML quite interesting and although I was quite happy when we were able to publish our work in a journal, I knew that I wasn’t particularly cutout for academic research.
Into my third academic year, I still loved taking up the courses in CS, so I decided to pursue an internship at Microsoft India in their ML team, which had been doing a lot of interesting work in those fields. I had a very successful internship. I was given a lot of freedom in my project and I learnt a lot about the kind of work being pursued in the industry. By now, I was clear I wanted to pursue a career in technology. What interested me the most was how technology and software was shaping the world and would continue to do so. At the forefront of it today is ML and Artificial Intelligence. I also find the ever changing and fast-evolving nature of the field quite adept to my nature. So I decided to prepare for my job interviews and I was elated when I was offered a role as a Software Developer at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond. I continued to keep up my good record in academics at college, and also decided to take up a Teaching Assistant role in the final semester of my college. It was an interesting experience as it helped me to learn how to get my ideas and solutions across in different ways so that the majority of people understood and the questions by the students helped me to strengthen my basics.
What I learnt from my college life was that your priorities and what you want from life keeps changing, and you have to adapt to that. The most important lesson is to listen to people and let them guide you, but at the same time, remember to make sure every decision you take is your own. I explored my options and I made mistakes which led to additional hurdles, but I overcame them. In hindsight, like many of us, I would do things differently, but I believe at the time, the choices and decisions I made were the best I could, and the mistakes taught me many things I wouldn’t have learnt otherwise. Along the journey, I have developed some amazing relationships which I know will last a lifetime.
I met Utkarsh Amitabh just before getting my internship at Microsoft, and he has been a great mentor since the time that I have known him and has helped me work my way through some rough paths. Under his aegis, I have to come realise the importance of connecting with fellow individuals throughout the globe and for that reason I believe that Network Capital is an amazing platform, as it brings together some of the great minds of the time from a very diverse set of fields and countries, for discussions and deliberations. And most importantly, it has some very experienced people from all across the industry who are always willing to help and go out of the way to guide others.
Always looking for new challenges and expand upon my skillset, I will be working with two fellow summer associates, Manraj Bevli and Priyamvada Saraf (recent graduates joining McKinsey & Co. shortly), in helping build Network Capital venture fund as a product. I will also assist in defining the strategy and outreach for a Network Capital Venture capital fund. I believe this opportunity will provide me with a valuable and unique experience as I will get to work on a variety of things with a potential for a lot of creative thinking.