For no particular reason, let’s do my story backwards.
2020 : Start-up #2
In April 2020, while speaking to some CEOs of SME firms, I heard a common refrain: “I wish my core team would keep pace with me. That would enable faster growth“.
This couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. In the middle of the COVID lockdown, I had all the time I needed. I designed a way to address this issue. It involved helping the core team to operate boldly, decisively and more independently. An opportunity for a pilot project appeared quickly and the test run was successful. A few months later, this project scaled up in the form of the HumSarathi Network, which is what I manage these days. More about it on the HumSarathi website.
2018-19 : Experimentation
I had a year-long contract with a large NBFC, to handhold them in a culture cascade project. With a truly open-to-experimentation L&D team there, we tried stuff that had been on my mind for a long time. With good results.
I also used these years to write my blog. They represent all I learnt about what works and what doesn’t, when it comes to developing people capability. Here’s the link to the two-dozen posts on my blog.
2017 : Startup #1
I co-founded an immersive travel start-up. After an enthusiastic start with far-out topics like ‘mountain-bike maintenance’ and ‘Himalayan Geology’, the market taught us some hard lessons. We’ve now found our niche in history/heritage education with a North-India bias. And we’re making waves. Take a quick look at Deep Dive India’s FB page here.
2005-2019 : Self-employment
During these years, I was self-employed as a trainer and coach. The good thing about working for several years in one field is the width of experience one gets. To illustrate, my portfolio includes…
Programs for MSMEs/Start-ups and Large firms.
Using both Face-to-Face and Online mode.
In both Outbound and Classroom settings.
With Senior, Mid-level and Junior personnel.
To solve problems of mindset, skills and knowledge.
Employing Facilitation, Training and Coaching methods.
Engaging Large groups, Intimate groups and Individuals.
Structured as weekend programs as well as long-term journeys.
Of course, all this work was peppered with a liberal dose of play too. During these years, I developed an interest in wood-carving; bought some land and tried (unsuccessfully) to grow an orchard and forest; learnt (successfully!) to play the harmonica; and travelled off the beaten track all over the country.
This was at 3 starkly different companies… an Indian FMCG firm, an American conglomerate and an Experiential Education start-up. I am talking of Asian Paints, General Electric and iDiscoveri Education. Met some very capable people at all three… and made lifelong friends too.
Pre-1999 : Education
For the record, and a sense of completeness, I do have a formal education! An engineering degree (IIT Kanpur, 1997) and a management diploma (IIM Ahmedabad, 1999).
Before which, I had quite an uneventful (read: normal, healthy, relaxed) childhood in Lucknow.