In conversation with Advocate Sanjay Kher, Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyer

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In our pursuit to assist the youth make academic/career choices, we have interviewed several successful individuals. In this edition, we have interviewed Advocate Sanjay Kher, who is a Lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property practicing in India and Internationally.

Advocate Kher has a penchant to go into details and dig for the core in any issue, coming as it does from an innate desire for precise communication, and to flesh out the logic that dominates perspective. In addition, his ability to ask sharp incisive questions, and the need to explore, have all been contributory factors to success.  Although Law was not his first choice, nor was it his second choice, it appears fate eventually docked him with his true calling ….. A journey which he firmly believed was triggered by a confluence of factors, chiefly amongst which he credits the contribution of his undergraduate college professors who helped him embark on a journey of self-discovery, which is nothing but an euphemism for belief and confidence.

Please read on to participate in his journey, excerpts of which he freely shares with our readers….

CB5: We have with us Advocate Sanjay Kher, a renowned Intellectual Property lawyer.  Sir, thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview you and to understand more about your profession and how you chose this career.

Given the context that our interview series is about successful people in various professions and to create awareness of the variety of professions to enable students to make informed decisions, please share some details about your current professional activities. What do you do? And what eventually brought you into this profession?

Adv. Kher: I am a Lawyer by profession. Within this profession, I specialize in Intellectual Property (IP) Laws, which is the area of Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Designs, etc. Specifically, I am what is known in the profession as, a Counsel, i.e. I argue matters in Court. However, aside this, I also assist inventors and creative people in drafting patent specifications, undertaking advisory work, helping people solve their IP related queries, participate in joint ventures matters, etc. I have also been involved in international overseas IP litigations, all of which has helped me in my journey to be a better professional.

I also consider it part of my legal responsibility to ‘talk’ about the law, and towards that I visit numerous colleges and universities within and outside India;  where I endeavour  to teach the law not as ‘a subject’, but rather interact with it as a living force’ guiding the fortunes of our Society.

CB5: What is the state of legal education in India and how do you see the life of a legal professional?

Adv. Kher: Sadly, I must be critical on the state of legal education in India. I do not have very kind words;  except possibly for a handful of colleges. I can unhesitatingly say that the quality of legal education needs to drastically improve. While there undoubtedly are a few good institutions in India, but, as you would know, ‘one swallow does not make a summer’.  Our education is still woefully lacking and does not compare with the best in the world. And make no mistake, just as an ill-trained driver can be a hazard on the roads, ill-trained lawyers are also part of the reason for judicial delays. This generally sub-standard professional training has consequently created only islands of excellence.

Such a state of affairs is simply not conducive for personal growth. Anyway, what I am saying about the legal education, is, you would agree, broadly true of the entire education system. I would also like to add that this wonderful profession, which has so much to offer to Society and to the practitioner, is only now awakening to its potential.

But these realities aside, I love what I do. I have immense respect for my colleagues at the Bar who work tirelessly and dedicatedly. I am particularly proud to be a member of the Bombay Bar, which has made an unparalleled contribution to India’s legal firmament.   

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CB5: Your early formal education and your professional career have different tracks…How did you decide on the choice and direction for formal education? What has been your journey of education?

Adv. Kher: As with almost everyone in India, after completing SSC i.e. the 10th … I unthinkingly veered towards Science; because back in those days, there was nothing to think beyond Engineering and Medicine. But I revolted, no sooner than when I realized that I was being ‘herded’ like sheep, the very thought was repugnant. Instead, I opted for a life in the Armed Forces and appeared for the NDA entrance.

But an interesting episode happened soon after I cleared the entrance and was slated to join in a few days. On the afternoon I received my admission  intimation from the NDA, a first cousin, who was on the flying side, Vikrant, happened to drop by and he firmly said ‘you are not going into the NDA!!’

I was taken aback, as you would imagine; but he bluntly continued: ‘You are not meant for the Armed Forces’. He backed up his statement by a very incisive analysis, saying ‘ You are too rebellious for the Armed Forces, and either you will kill somebody or get killed, and a life in the Armed Forces is not for you and you will not be able to sustain it for long.

I completely understood what he had so ruthlessly told me, and I respect him for that. I fully appreciated that each profession comes with its traits, logic, and discipline; and for a soldier,  unquestioned obedience is paramount, since a battlefield can’t be a place to build consensus.

Thanking my cousin, I tore up my selection papers and stepped out. What the episode taught me was that it is an asset to have people who ‘have your back’. I was so fortunate to have had somebody who had the insight and the ability to convey it in an analytical, cogent and pleasant manner. So my behavior traits intuitively played a role in my veering away from Engineering and NDA!

I didn’t go to NDA, I didn’t want to go to Engineering either, and I was so unhappy with Science generally. My disappointment probably stemmed from my incessant questioning, and the inability or unwillingness of my teachers to resolve them. Some basic questions in mathematics, physics, and chemistry were never answered in class and kept away for another day. I needed to know simple things like, where did certain equations come from, who devised them and how, because that’s the way my mind works, and I needed clarity at every step and hated mindless mugging of textbooks.  On the other hand, I enjoyed biology though, probably because  I could actually see things unfolding before me, like finding and studying the ‘nerve ring’ in earthworm dissections.  It was tragic that the ‘system’ failed to understand my needs, and I was unwilling to bend to its methods.

Nobody helped sort these issues which coursed through my mind. I eventually went to my father and I told him this is not working out…Science was a complete disaster for me… He asked ‘what do you have in mind?’… I hesitatingly said, maybe Commerce, because it is more logical, something which I can read and grasp.  

He supported me and said, “do whatever you want, you have our support’ Those words were huge for me!! So that’s’ how I  changed over from 12th Science to Commerce during my undergraduate years.

Securing permission from my father proved to be an easier proposition than getting admission into a reputed college. I couldn’t get admission to the various good colleges because the first term was nearing its end.  Somehow after talking to a lot of people I homed in on the Podar College and went and met Mr. P. J. Joshi, the then principal of Podar College. In my mind, this was the college for me, and I didn’t want to to go anywhere else. When Principal Joshi expressed his difficulty in admitting me, I bluntly told him that I had decided that Podar was the college for me and I will not leave until I am admitted. Thereafter, every day I used to go and sit outside his room, and every time Joshi Sir would walk in and out of his cabin, there I was large enough for him to see me. On many occasions he told me, ‘I cannot admit you’; and I simply said ‘ I am not going to any other college’. Finally, the great man gave in and after about 15 days, took me in. I think it was this interaction that spurred me to make a promise to myself, that I will one day make this college, and Joshi Sir, proud of having admitted me into its portal.

At Podar I encountered an unexpected problem. I soon realized the perils of not having done 11th Commerce and getting into 12th directly; this meant that subjects like accounts were alien to me and I was already in the second term of my 12th year. It was then the fortune fairy stepped in and brought me in touch with Prof. Maqsud Naik, who held my hand and swiftly guided me through the maze to plant me on firm ground. This was a second turning point, after my admission into Podar. Prof. Naik inspired, encouraged and challenged me like I had never experienced before.

Along with Prof. Naik, at Podar I met another young and inspiring professor, Prof. Ravi Shankar. These two ‘gods’ turned my life inside-out, and I cleared my 12 standard topping the Mumbai region. The reason I am so indebted to Podar College is the inspiring set of teachers under whom it was my privilege to study and interact.

Right from school days, I used to take part in elocution and similar competitions; at Podar I got an amazing platform. Soon I was in the thick of activities: be it elocution, debating, public speaking, various college activities like fundraising during natural calamities, National Cadet Corps, trekking and mountaineering, dramatics, and most importantly Student Union activities. The three years of graduation passed in a blur.

In my final year, on graduation day, the College awarded me with nearly 12 medals for various activities, and the ‘Best Student’ of the year award. What is equally important is that Podar also ensured that I did not slip in academics, and in fact did pretty well in each of the graduation years.

Recently, when I visited my alma mater with my son, who too did his 12th. there,  it was a proud moment to meet my ‘old’ professors and hear them telling my son that ‘seldom has anybody enjoyed their college life as much as your father did’.

In the early 80s, there was this talk within the Maharashtrian community, that Marathi youngsters are not taking ‘business’, and this got me thinking of taking a plunge in the world of business. I thought I should start something, but just at that time, ITC was looking for young graduates with the objective of grooming them for the future. I applied and got selected.I went to Kolkata for few months and returned to Mumbai. While ‘management’ looked fun to me that, I soon realized that I would find myself at a disadvantage without a formal management ‘qualification’. I immediately appeared for and got selected for a management programme at the prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS) and told my boss of my intention to quit ITC. He was appalled at the suggestion and offered that the company would send me abroad in a few years time to an Ivy League management school; however, I couldn’t let go of my seat at the JBIMS, and I quit ITC.

To add to my formal management education, fate also sent along a business opportunity – and I took the plunge start a commercial enterprise, little knowing what it would entail, particularly in the Indian context.

A few years into the business and things were going pretty well, and soon I realized there was nothing in this that I could not do, particularly if I was willing to be ‘flexible’.  And that was becoming my Achilles heel. Having reached a certain size, I realized that to take my business to the next level, at least within the socio-cultural setting of our country, I was being called upon to make ethical compromises, and this I was not willing to do. And  I had begun to get ‘bored’ of doing business. Also, I somehow began hating the idea that I would pass an entire life with nothing meaningful to show for it. I do not in the slightest mean to denigrate all the great business people who contribute so much to Society, in so many different ways, but it’s just that I did not see me doing ‘business’ all my life.

By this time I was around 32-33 and my life experiences were now suffocating me. The growing injustices around me, the growing inequalities in Society, the all-round decline in moral and ethical standards and I started looking at the Law with renewed interest, particularly Constitutional Law. A few cases which I had commenced to fight against social menaces convinced me that I had a hitherto undiscovered fascination for the Law. I started studying the Law, alongside my business activity. As I approached completion, I began to entertain serious visions of being a lawyer; but I could not be unmindful of my reality – which was that I was responsible for the jobs I had created, and also to my family which now consisted of a wife and 2 kids.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, the ‘lawyer visions’ refused to let me be in peace. I began discussing with my wife and other family members about this vision and found support and encouragement for my desires. At the same time, I also found a buyer for my business.  Having secured the basic needs of my family and also secured the jobs of my employees, I decided to the take the plunge for a life at the Bar.

I started my new journey right from where every lawyer does; i.e. working as a junior at a training stipend of Rs. 1000/- p.m. This princely amount barely covered my pass and travel expense, but that was the last thing on my mind. It might sound immodest, but I took to the legal profession like a duck to water.

I found that it gave me every freedom and latitude that I always hoped for, and without having to sacrifice my morality and ethics. I am aware that the Society at large views all professionals suspiciously these days, but I can say without a shred of hesitation that I have never had to compromise in the practice of my craft, and I have not suffered for that.

What is also of importance is that I was able to settle down much faster in the profession, because all my past experiences had actually prepared me for the profession.

 CB5: Wow! This is an amazing narrative… and are you suggesting that a more mature person learning law has its benefits?

Adv. Kher: Any profession! Be it engineering, law, science anything, there are three things that don’t get revealed to us at an early age: one is the mechanics underlying the subject; second,  the philosophical underpinnings of that subject, and lastly (and hugely important to me) the ‘romance’, the ‘music’, the ‘harmony’ that wafts through the subject.  To get a full measure of all these, a traveler must be immersed in the lake, with all pores open. But this realization, this knowledge of existence of these crucial facets, the ability to see them all as one syncretic whole, comes with ‘age’.

Recently an Australian friend commented on her unceasing amazement that; ‘in India, and in the sub-continent generally, parents and children approach education as if it is a train that once boarded, the kids are not allowed to alight until destination. She felt that was disastrous to the career choices kids eventually make. She was of the opinion that kids must do different activities before closing in on the future course of their lives. This will make professional growth fun and filled with practical insights.  

That is what happened to me, I came to law having ‘lived’ my life and from the first day started looking at things differently.

CB5: Experience is transformative in a way. And education with practical application builds a different level of maturity and focus …And probably that is why many Management schools recommend if not insist that incumbent students have gone through an organizational tenure and then pursue an MBA course. How did you eventually settle down in the legal profession? Was it difficult to  ‘find your feet’ in the profession?

Adv. Kher: ‘Settling down’ is a function of many factors; like,  one’s  grasp over the subject, the opportunities one gets, the opportunities one is able to spot and grab, passion for work,  discipline,  people skills, hours of hard work, and lastly a very small but vital component, called luck.  

Immediately on entering the profession, I decided not to spread myself thin, and do a specialization. I spotted IP law as the coming wave and hitched my bandwagon to it. I was lucky to be accepted as a junior by one of the leading IP lawyers in India and was truly blessed to have trained under him.

Once, my senior, for personal reasons, was unable to deliver a lecture for which he had committed. He requested me to deliver the lecture. Without a hesitation, I grabbed the opportunity, and I must say that one evening was a turning point in my legal career.

That lecture was attended by many bigwigs from the corporate and legal world; and where before the lecture I was unknown in the profession, by the end of my talk, I kind of felt that I had been accepted by the legal and business community. What is more telling about that lecture was the industry feedback that it was pleasant to hear a lawyer speak a businessman’s language. [I smiled, but did not tell them that I was, until recently a member of their fraternity].

Soon thereafter, people from the American Consulate selected me and sent me to the US for on a programme designed for what they call as ‘future leaders.’

CB5: Would you have any cautions/critique about the legal profession?

Adv. Kher:  The state of the legal profession is no different from the state of its education I have mentioned earlier. There are many challenges that every organ of our Society is having to combat. This, unfortunately, saps the energy of our youngsters and is particularly detrimental to the profession’s ability to deliver on its mandate.

The creeping frustrations amongst all stakeholders have eventually a cataclysmic domino effect, bringing the system to a complete halt. What is even more dangerous is that the system has not stopped its movements, it is still moving;  but tragically, in my view, it has stopped delivering.  This can be utterly demoralizing and gives rise to many oddities, chiefly amongst that is what I call ‘a creeping cannibalism’, where members of the community are themselves devouring at the systems entrails.

But this pessimistic reality, by the very law of nature, cannot sustain and must and has already begun a reversal. Thus, these are exciting times to be in the legal profession. I am encouraged by the numerous youngsters who are vociferously engaged with change, and these are our change-makers, and change will come, and I have no doubt that the legal profession will be at the forefront of that struggle; because as the famous trial lawyer Louis Nizer once said : It (Law) is man’s highest achievement, because it is the only weapon he has fashioned whose force rests solely on the sanctity of reason.

CB5: In your opinion what are your success factors? What elements about your personality help in this success?

Adv. Kher: As I have said earlier, there is really not any ‘one’ factor that is responsible for success; and I am also not sure whether ‘success’ should have one common meaning for everybody. In fact, it ought not to be. Success to me is when one can answer a truthful ‘Yes’ to the two eternal questions: (1) Did you give it your best? and (2) Are you content when you look back?

If there is one factor that I would like to underline, it would be the role of  ‘a Guru’,   ‘a Teacher’,  ‘a Guide’ or let us call that person an ‘‘ a Master’  Somebody who epitomises all the professional and personal values you want to be inculcated in yourself.  Let their deeds be your guide, and you will find many secrets of life softly unfolding within you.   

CB5: Knowing you, we must add – Your need to explore, and challenge the logic of everything and dig into that is one big piece of your success. As I know you, you will not accept anything without really satisfying your logic… AND then your skills of understanding the law, and intelligence in interpreting the same and effectively communicating your arguments with fact and appropriate language are an added BONUS!

Adv. Kher:  I could be wrong, but I divide ‘intelligence’ into two types: first is the  innate ‘god’ given intelligence, and the second type of intelligence is what one develops observing one’s surroundings, by absorbing therefrom what is needed to be processed, by processing what is required to aid decision  making and finally making sense of the entire exercise. I believe I must be having more of the second type. But more importantly, I think I have a god given tenacity, an immense storehouse of energy and the confidence to take risks – the matrix of which I am able to process very quickly.

But like the mythical Achilles heel, I spoke about earlier, I also think one must do a SWOT analysis, lest one is swept away in one’s own grandiose sense of self. I have no doubt that there are many ‘manufacturing defects’ that, even as we speak, are in the process of repair. New ones are being regularly identified, if not by self, surely by the mirror the world holds up to us. I believe that intelligence lies in listening to these hushed tones and to quietly carry out the repair and refurbishing job.

But beyond intelligence lies ‘Wisdom’. And true Wisdom lies in knowing that ‘wealthy is the man who is happy, and happy is the man who knows what wealth is’.  

CB5: What were some of the sacrifices you had to make to reach the level of success that you have achieved?

Adv. Kher: Tons of it! While success is never guaranteed, the thought certainly stays on top of one’s mind, particularly when has come late to the party. Plus every profession has its own gestation period, and the legal profession is said to have a particularly circuitous route to the top.

I could be wrong, but I believe I have a very rustic Indian no-regret attitude towards what we call ‘Sacrifices’. Sacrifices to me are really nothing but the paths one leaves untravelled when one chooses other roads. Therefore there is nothing to regret. I am reminded here of Robert Frost and his ‘The Road Less Travelled’.

Consequently, I have no regrets about any ‘sacrifices’; that would cut into the joy of the ‘choices’ I have made.   

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CB5: Losing family time is one lament that we commonly hear from successful persons!

Adv. Kher: People lose family time even by spending their evenings in the pub, or with the ‘boys’ in the club. To me, if you have not been able to manage time amongst your various responsibilities, you probably are not ‘successful’; and your unidimensional achievement ought not to be labeled ‘success’, lest we will be guilty of perpetuating an incorrect version of ‘success’.   Fortunately, me and my wife have spent tons of quality time with our kids, doing hundreds of varied things, from trekking to craft making to outdoor sports, and have absolutely no regrets at that we can’t afford a Rolls Royce.

CB5: Can you share with us some of your hobbies?

Adv. Kher: Trekking, Travel, Reading, and Music are some abiding passions. I have asked myself in many a pensive mood whether ‘work’ itself a hobby;  but I am glad to leave that discussion for some other day.

CB5: Would you have any advice for the younger generation, especially someone who is at crossroads trying to select an education path, say someone between ages 14-21 years?

Adv. Kher: I have no doubts that the route I have taken is completely crazy, particularly in the Indian milieu. Just too many things have to fall in place, and hence would be very circumspect to repeat this adventure.  

But yet even in our social and economic realities, one can redefine ‘success’, and if it includes seeing new dreams, then the chase is on…

I would like to say this one thing, all my friends, particularly those who are struggling to be Indians in this ‘Flat World’: teach your children only one ‘mantra’:  that there is nothing right or wrong in life, there are only consequence.

John Denver wrote a beautiful poem ‘Let This Be The Voice’, one stanza therein runs like this:

“There is a tree that stands in the forest

That one tree is all forests

All trees are that one”

To me:

There is a mantra that stands like a beacon

That one mantra is all Religion

All mantras are that one

As regards advice, I am incapable of advising anyone, and I have learned that is risky to launch on that path. But if there is one thing I can say, which is: pause and observe the world around you, and every little thing that exists on it… we are getting messages from them all the time. What our world has to say is infinitely wiser, listen to it.

CB5: Mr. Kher, we cannot thank you enough for sharing with us your personal journey about your career. We are sure that our readers will benefit from your experiences and personal insights.

Your personal stories are not only insightful but are also eye-openers and inspirational.  Sincerely Thank-You once again for sharing and giving us your valuable time.

Please comment, send any questions and like, share and follow us on FB, Google+, LinkedIn.

Until our next Blog on another interesting profession…

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VISIT : www.CB5.in

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Interview with Vikas Shinde, Professional Photographer!

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In our pursuit to assist the youth to make the Right Academic/Career Choices, we have interviewed several successful individuals.

In this edition we have the opportunity to interview a very creative person, Mr Vikas Shinde, who is in a glamorous but competitive area – Professional Photography.

Mr. Shinde, holds a Diploma in Electrical Engineering from Cusrow Wadia Institute of Technology. Having worked as an Engineer in various companies, Mr Shinde decided to make his innate passion into a professional pursuit…

Read on to find what he has to share about his passion and profession….

CB5: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview you and understand more about your profession and career choice.

Given the context that our interview series is about successful people in various professions and to create awareness of the variety of professions to enable students to make informed decisions, would you have any initial comments?

Mr. Shinde: It is a good idea because I have been facing a lots of students everyday who want to enter in this profession of Photography even without understanding its strengths and weaknesses or the efforts required to be put in.  These days the cameras have got so smart that people feel just buying a camera would make them “Professional Photographers”. That’s not the truth, there is a lot of hard work, patience and passion and hell lot of imagination that is really required to build up this business rather than just a photograph or camera.

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CB5: Right, in fact that’s the common trait,  we are seeing with people deeply rooted and committed to professions for decades…. Clearly there is the passion but there is also the hardwork and dedication. It doesn’t necessarily get seen by public at large.

You have always been in photography, what’s your world been like? Right from your formal education to your profession –  what’s your journey like?

Mr. Shinde: I was in the 3rd Std when my father brought a camera of his friend and I took some pictures. All the pictures that I took, they came out very well, whatever pictures my father took they were not that great. So, this developed an interest in me and I started following the photographers who came in weddings and kept on observing them. In std 8th my father gave me a camera which was worth Rs. 320, way back in 1982. It was Agfa Isolette II  and I started working with it. The moment I understood all the functions I started making money out of it. I used to go in functions or wherever possible because I had to compensate the cost of the film and my hobby. I used that camera from 8th Std to 10th Std, then I realised the limitations of my camera. It used to take only 16 frames and my requirement was way beyond it and it was pretty costly in those days. I told my father I want a better camera, my mother then promised to give me a camera if I get good marks in 10th. Unfortunately, my parents were unable to buy me the camera of my choice because of the cost. And so, I went on Satyagraha for 1 and a half month. Can you imagine that I ate nothing.  Finally I got a camera worth Rs.2850, on 3rd Jan 1986 12.30pm or so, I still remember the day!!

That camera it gave me a lot, it gave me awards, it gave me money, taught me lot of things. After completing my Engineering, while doing my studies I continued to take pictures and make money!

CB5: Amazing! So you got into this profession almost by fate / by accident! It was a coincidence that your father happened to get you a camera but you continued to pursue your education; and at the same time you have an ignited Passion!  Right?

Mr. Shinde: Simultaneously, I was completing my education and doing projects. So after 10th I went to do a diploma in Electrical Engineering. I made money there as well and I was doing well in studies. Financially we were not very strong at home, so I started working early. The moment I got few awards, in Sakal newspaper etc. it further fuelled my interest and after that I kept on investing and changing my camera because I was getting good money and I had a fascination of technology right from the beginning. Almost all the brands, of 35mm camera, film camera’s in those days, I used them, some canon, some pentax, some other cameras I liked very much because of its lenses.

Further after completion of my engineering, my father insisted  on me taking up a job as an engineer rather than doing photography. I applied and got a Central Government job,  obviously a more stable job. I worked for 6 years as a government employee., I worked at various locations like Lonavla, Kamshet, Chinchwad, Rajgurunagar, Chakan, Alandi, Mumbai.

And then one fine day I resigned from my job, I didn’t know what to do. I was ready to do anything and everything to survive, failure was not my option, photography was parallely going, my initial job paid me some Rs. 3600, so Rs. 2000 I used to give to my mom and Rs1000 was for myself, and all the other expenses were borne by the camera. And I used to get 3000 if at all I used to go shoot a wedding or maybe a function, that was my profit in those days. I used to think I can make this money in a day, why should I work for an entire month, travel and take so much pain. That gave me strength. Everybody was against me, my wife, my parents, everyone said don’t leave the job, its a govt job, nobody else is getting that job and why do you want to leave. And yet I quit!! I was not happy there, I was not doing what I wanted to do. The moment I left the job I was on the road, I had only Rs.1.50 left in my pocket, for more than a span of 6 months, I stopped riding my scooter and started using a cycle, telling everyone that I was a fitness freak. So almost 6 months, August- December I had nothing. During that time, I have also trained myself to make vada pav, start off ironing people’s clothes, I was willing to do anything to be a professional photographer.

Photography, that is all what I wanted to do. The end result was photography!

The government job had nothing to do with photography, it was purely engineering. But even while travelling to and fro, I clicked a lot of images, I used to ride a bicycle to Alandi, I used to ride motorcycle to Rajgurunagar or Chakan or Manchal.  While travelling I used to take out my camera, click some beautiful landscapes, sun sets, maybe click the bridges, water everything on film cameras, though it was delayed outcomes, almost 2-3 months, after that I used to see the results and then think what else can be improved.

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CB5: Wow everything you share, your passion just comes out. But here’s the interesting question, you did not take any formal education in photography, how did/does that work?

Mr. Shinde: No not all! I had access to a lot of books. In those days whenever I used to have money I used to gather all the old books from the scrap collector, and observe those images, try to analyse, try to find out where the lights are, the composition, intention, colours. Those books are still with me, they gave me a lot of energy. When I had money in my pocket, I went to the British Council Library.  There I saw good films, good books, and some of those books I loved so much that I xeroxed them and kept it for myself. You get a lot of knowledge, you get a lot of energy, vision how to think. The moment the books direct you then you have your own vision rather than copying things. That gave the real experience, you try something, you prove something and then you realise okay these are the mistakes I am not going to make next time!

CB5: For you the learning was books, there was little guidance, there was this whole thing that I have to do this and keep learning from every single experience. This is almost like Eklavya… Passion driven learning!

Mr. Shinde: Yes, I did not get guidance from one person. Even if I used to see a good photograph lying in the dustbin I used to take it out, wash it and redevelop it. I never thought it was dirty. I still have a Kishor Kumar photograph with Madhubala, I have laminated it and kept because I found that photograph in the dustbin. So you might call it as passion, but I was hungry. I had no other option, this is what I wanted to do and after leaving a stable job, I had cut out all the ropes. I had to go ahead somehow.

CB5: So the question that  immediately comes to mind is what makes you want to do this as a 24×7 thing all the time. What about you is oriented  towards this profession?

Mr. Shinde: It was pretty simple, whenever I used to click, people used to appreciate that saying they have never seen such kind of images in their life. They previously had some photographers, but the images that I used to click for them using my techniques, my ideas, my compositions, they used to appreciate it very well. The moment I started that as a business the clients got benefited out of it and it gave me a lot of confidence. This is I what I do and the clients get richer and I can try that for myself. From that time onwards, I started with Emcure Pharmaceutical, working for them as a photographer, I used to supply everything to them, those days were the grooming days for the industry and my client was coming up with new products, this was around 1997 onwards. I was doing round the clock job for them, those were the days when I used to make 35mm slides for them. So I used to make 1000-2000 slides a day, pretty busy and good money. The first cheque I got from them was Rs.70,000 out of which almost 50,000 was profit and that boost up my confidence even more. The next month I had a cell phone and a landline. The cell phone bill in those days was Rs.20,000 because the calling was so expensive.

I am a very technology loving person – you give me any positive and beautiful thing related to technology and I try to implement those in my art. So I was the only guy after the directors to have cell phones, I used to get calls from them and I used to work for them round the clock. I supplied everything right from plastic boxes, candles, threads, scissors because whatever supplies they wanted I used to provide.

CB5: What do you enjoy most about your profession?

Mr. Shinde: I think of lots of weird things about how you live life, contradictions and imaginations about things we fail to understand. I used to show that through my art. For example one of my friend got a frog, the green colored tree gliding frog, the moment it jumps it’s almost 10 feet in a single jump, so I shot that frog. There is a saying in Marathi which translates to “the frog’s world lies in the pond” so I made that image, the frog is in a beautiful bowl and there is a beautiful world around it. I created that image and very few people find it very easy to understand. The moment I started showing it to the international market, they appreciated it very well.

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CB5: So what you enjoy is looking at anything around you and then imagining it in a different perspective and then capturing it in a frame and creating a story around. After all, a good picture is worth a thousand words!

Mr. Shinde: It’s very difficult to portray whatever the objects are around, I don’t look at them as objects, I look at them as images. So any object that is lying around, is also a part of my world, which inspires me, so even you are talking to me now, even though you have lots of expression, angles, and lots of lighting that is happening on your face, that attracts me. I keep on observing them. So at the back of my mind, even though I am saying something to you, it’s all going on. The kind of ambience, it’s all going on – I can’t stop it. It’s sort of a curse for me, I can’t see ordinary like other people and that is the problem. I try to see each and everything so perfect, that you are never happy, the family is always upset.

CB5: What is it about your profession that you don’t like?

Mr. Shinde: Impatience, mediocrity and Insensitivity! An artist is supposed to understand something beyond expression, if he understands it well only then he can go ahead with expressing it well so that the entire world understands the real story about it.

I heard a story of a war photographer. While he was shooting, he was shot dead. He was was bleeding so he took a cab and told the driver to take the films he had shot to the American Embassy and ask them to give it to his mother. While giving them he told the cab driver, “my mother gave me a beautiful vision to become a photographer”. Then the photographer died and the cab driver took the films and delivered them to his mom. He finds out that the mom is blind! So a blind person can give you vision, for that you need a sense and mind which is most important. When the images when processed it was a completely different world!

CB5: We talked about your success factors, the ability to visualize differently. Is there anything about your personality which is significantly valuable in what you are doing and contributing to your success?

Mr. Shinde: I don’t call myself successful at all! I am just a part of the entire stream where I am working, I am trying to fix the things or do the things in right way or in a way that I feel is right. Financially I am surviving, I am getting enough money. When I see the best people in the world, I compare myself, I always feel that I am nowhere near. When I see Ansel Adams, I have done nothing like him.

CB5: So you are craving for more and better everyday!

Mr. Shinde: Yes every single day! Everyday I curse myself, and tell myself that this is not what I have done. And you know one of the best photographers has stated that “A Successful photographer is not one who is making money or shooting best, but the one who has got a huge Recycle Bin”. He should be able to recycle or scrap his work everyday and move to next. And that is what I am trying to do everyday.

CB5: This is also one of the Management Mantras, lot of the CEOs will say this, that I attribute my success to all the failures that I faced. You are saying it in a completely different way, that my recycle bin needs to be bigger than my real creative work. So I need to dump and keep making mistakes and learn from them.

Mr. Shinde: Everyday you learn! Till today I fail to understand lots of things, which I understand everyday oh this is like this, I didn’t know this, I am supposed to learn this and I keep on trying. Every moment it’s a challenge, because you can take a picture, but everytime when you are given a single product to shoot in a different way, probably on the 5th or 6th day you will be out of ideas. But that doesn’t happen with me, I keep on thinking in so many different directions and facets that it comes to me.

So your need to ideate, look at things continuously in different light, is a very powerful internal thing that you have.

I couldn’t see a girl, a beautiful place or any beautiful thing around me ordinarily, because I just see images. And that keeps on refreshing my mind, that keeps me happy, that makes me enjoy life more and more.

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CB5: What kind of photography do you like?

Mr. Shinde: I prefer portraits and weird still life.

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CB5: Do you do exhibitions?

Mr. Shinde: I don’t do exhibitions. I don’t believe in exhibitions. Because the person who understands image he will never come to an exhibition, that guy is sitting at home doing some other work. The ordinary people just comment “wow, wonderful, nice” they don’t understand the composition. I have lots of weird work, I have taken a very poisonous snake, sandpit viper snake and I shot it live as a dish (cuisine), people kill and eat that snake, decorate it and stuff. It was alive, every moment I go near it, I had a risk, any moment it can just react.

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CB5: There must also be images which you clicked just for yourself. They are not for commercials or anything right?

Mr. Shinde: Yes lots of them almost 3 terabyte of images. I don’t show all my work to everyone , because very few people understand them. When I start getting stupid reactions I stop showing them the images, because they make fun of it rather than understanding it, you lose interest. Once there was an image in which I kept lots of coloured pencils together and there was one broken pencil and showed blood coming out. So the message was simple “Unity is strength” if you fall alone you are going to break no matter how many colors and beautiful you are. And whenever I show it to people they ask very funny questions, I get so upset. Seeing those images is a different thing and understanding is different. I can tell you the thought behind it but your imagination will be different, your interpretation will be different.

I had a film camera Sinar which was outdated those days when the digital technology came in & everyone started selling it off. I was so much in love with that camera because I kept my home for mortgage to buy that camera. It was some 4.5 lakh in 1995. So that was huge in those days. And again that was the reason that I want to win and prove it to everyone, I want to repay the loan, work hard. I am still using that camera. So when the digital technology came everybody said this is outdated & nobody is gonna use it. My engineering mind used to tell me, this technology cannot be outdated no matter what. This is the best, so I thought that I’ll keep it in a corner showing it to probably my sons & next few generations.

After a couple of years there was a digital bang, and a 6 Megapixel camera came to me. During those days people were shooting with 3 & 4 MP cameras. I was shooting at 6 MP. And that I engineered a plate to combine the two cameras by mounting it on one another. So even though nobody had the digital sinar in those days I had a digital sinar & i was shooting at 18 MP because of the earlier camera & the plate that I engineered. Going to the milling machine, defined it & took the readings to measure the depths & corners. It went very well.

Technology helped me a lot. People used to say it is not gonna happen but I knew it is possible. How, I didn’t know at that moment, but the technology, the education made it possible. An engineer is always told or taught to find out a solution. I found lots and lots of solutions for photography; I have plenty of technological solutions which I applied in my office itself. Then later I came up with a 50 megapixel digital camera, now I can make upto 300 Mega Pixel images. Which no body else is doing, not even in the country.

I have done an Indian navy job in which i took a picture of Indian Navy completely from the Taj hotel terrace. Those were 55 shots and I stitched them with the help of computer, so that print was made almost 22 feets and that is laminated and framed and kept in Mumbai Dockyard. So a guy has to walk to see that entire image. And it starts from gateway of india on the right hand side and entirely pans towards Brabourne stadium, church gate, queen’s necklace and each and everything in between.

CB5: Can you share what you believe are your significant achievements?

Mr. Shinde: I got three times recognition on Hasselblad.com site.  A camera which is made for shooting the moon. I have three Hasselblads and two Sinars. The first time I felt it was an accident, the next time also I felt okay one more accident and the third time I was really shocked, I was a bit happy, that okay there is someone in the world who understands how I think, how I interpret. And after the third recognition, I got a call from London Hasselblad, they took my interview and published on their website. That was the icing and that was my achievement you can say. That gave me a lot of confidence and that also kept me in an upset kind of mind state because I still have to perform better – so not stopping here was the only milestone.

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I always get upset, I cannot sleep well after 3 o’clock, I used to get lots of ideas every morning after 3 o’clock, I keep writing them, keep thinking about them and then the next day I bring it on the set and shoot it the way I like.

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CB5: How much of the work that you do is individualistic or working in a team?

Mr. Shinde: It’s more individual because all are my ideas. You must have seen so many ‘Gulab jamun’ packets, but every time you see my ‘Gulab jamun’ packet it’s going to be different. So how to present the same ‘Gulab jamun’ differently. So it keeps me challenged how I am going to do next time.

The parent company of my client KSB Pumps is German. So whenever I am making an image, they always say that you are always challenging yourself and we don’t know what you are going to create next. I get a lot of emails and appreciation from the German company saying they like my image.

I do have international clients, a lot of international friends. I present there. And these companies call you if anything new is coming up.

CB5: What were some of the sacrifices you had to make to reach to this level?

Mr. Shinde: Lost good family life, health, lost contact and relations around including parents, personal time. One has to sacrifice because you cannot achieve both the things, you never know when I have to pack my bags and go for shoot. Once my father was in the hospital going through a lot of pain while I had to do work during the day and go to the hospital at night. I can’t just lock my door and go there. Even though you understand there are commitments you have to follow. That really hurts me sometimes.

CB5: So for the young readers and the viewers who are probably thinking about photography as a career choice would you have some advice, both, from the perspective of what’s the enriching part of it and what would be the potential pitfalls?

Mr. Shinde: Difficulties are going to be there, the world has become so smart. The world has become one nation. You can deliver your work at any part of the world with the help of internet and you can learn technology. If you have sensitivity, logic and imagination, then only you should/ can go ahead.

There is no option to Dedication, passion and hard work. And the best and worst thing, you could get more  money and you will never say a photographer died getting paid less. But it is fluctuating. If you have a comfort zone, then you will never struggle, so it has to be fluctuating. Unless you have the hunger you won’t do anything. Because if you give me 5 crore rupees in my bank I will stop working. But when I know next month if I don’t do anything I won’t have money. Then you will start craving for it, not just to create money but there is some motivation for you to work.

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CB5: But if financial liberation happens, would you stop looking at things the way you are?

Mr. Shinde: No. I don’t want that. I might have the best cameras in the world. Technically I may be the best, but then do I have a rich brain to work on it. You can’t have all the things. If I have money, I will stop thinking. I will stop walking down the lane 10 kilometers taking pictures because then I will have a car then I won’t stop it, then I will have people to do the job. So the fun is gone. The pleasure of taking the camera out, standing in the dirt and taking beautiful pictures is gone, the satisfaction is gone and I don’t want that. I don’t want to be rich. I don’t want to be such a money making guy, that next day I feel I don’t want to work and let me have a nice sleep. But the next day when I get up at 3 O’clock in the morning with lots of ideas and I am so hungry to execute, I don’t want to lose that urge and I feel money will do that.

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CB5: Any advice for the students?

Mr. Shinde: It is very simple. Never give up your passion, no matter what. And second thing is that never stop coming out of your comfort zone.

If you keep relaxing, if you keep enjoying your comfort zone you will never be the best. So every time you have to tell yourself this is where I am not gonna stop. Otherwise the young generation is intelligent enough to understand its pros and cons, technology is with them, unlike us, we had very limited resources. But unfortunately people are looking at it with a different perspective as a money making machine. A photographer is highly paid for his ideas. He never dies penny less. He is rich enough to enjoy life.

CB5: Anything else you want to share with us?

Mr. Shinde: Anyone if at all, wants to learn anything about photography they can come to me, I can guide them, but I cannot teach photography. You cannot teach photography, you cannot teach imagination, you can learn how to use a camera, you can learn to drive but you cannot teach anyone how to drive in a race or a highway, or use that space to take over the vehicle.

Every day you enrich yourself by reading, by experimenting, by going out, by talking to people, by understanding the world that’s happening around you. Youngsters today immediately google an idea/concept and try to produce the same thing. I really stop them from doing this because this is not what you are, instead this is a copy of someone else. So use your own imagination, let it be at any stage. Your imagination is gonna take you ahead.

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CB5: We are sure that our readers will benefit from your open sharing and enjoy reading your experiences. We are also sure that some of them will be motivated to choose Photography as a career!

We sincerely Thank you for the sharing and giving us your time.

Until our next Blog on another interesting profession…

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VISIT : www.CB5.in

Interview with Meena Chandavarkar!

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In our pursuit to assist the youth to make the Right Academic/Career Choices, we have interviewed several successful individuals.

This is our interview with Meena Chandavarkar- Ex-Principal, Abhinav Vidyalaya English Medium Pre-Primary School and later Superintendent of Abhinav Vidyalaya Pre- Primary, Primary and High School until 2003.

Having finished her primary education in a One Teacher Village school in Konkan and later on graduation in Kolhapur and Pune (Meena Teacher as she is fondly addressed) she is happy to call herself “GHATI Konkani!!” a mix of adventure and affection.

After having a long seven year stint at Hindustan Lever Ltd, Times of India and IBM World Trade Corporation, she found her true vocation with Young Children at the behest of Mrs Rajini Date who invited her to Abhinava Vidyalaya English Medium Pre Primary School.

Meenatai joined the preschool in 1973 and held on to it steadfastly and with all her mind and soul mainly because of her innate love for children.

Tatyasaheb (K B Virkar) the president of Adarsh Shikshan Mandali inspired her with his love for language and work culture. He is the first Maharashtrian to open an English Medium School in Western Pune. He was the first person to write both English into Marathi and Marathi into English Dictionary.

Meenatai, a pioneer of many new ideas and concepts in child education says “Learning through love has now become her philosophy in Education and her life as well!”

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CB5: Meenatai … Thank you for giving us this time for an interview…

We are sure that our readers will enjoy reading about your experiences as a Teacher and Pioneer in the field of Education..

Can you tell us how you came into this profession of teaching and education after working for corporates in Mumbai?                                                                                    

Meenatai: Well…All those lovely jobs were really in search of decent earnings due to financial constraints and responsibilities. In fact I have been at it in small ways (tuitions, small jobs etc.) since my age of 18.

And like most, lower middle class people in those years (1955 onwards), I took pride in helping the family. I got my first proper job at Hindustan Lever (HUL), in Market Research that I did for about 2.5 years. After that I joined Times of India (TOI) and IBM followed. These years I enjoyed working and grew in maturity with responsibility while being happy at the same time.

CB5: But in TOI were you involved with Journalism?

Meenatai: I did some bit of journalism. People were trained on the job. In those days there were no journalism colleges (1960-61). But I was not the reporter, I worked in the information bureau, interestingly Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Arun Gandhi was our boss! He told us a lot about Gandhiji. I also wrote the ladies and children’s page with Navbharat times. And occasionally contributed to Dharmayog- a Hindi weekly.  I had the good fortune to interview Smt Vijayalakshmi Pandit and Maharani Gayatri Devi. 

It was a lot of fun and hard work which later made it easy for me to work in Abhinav Vidyalaya for over 13hrs a day.

CB5: You are known as a Pioneer in the field of Child Education….Can you tell us about some of the initiatives introduced by you in Abhinav Vidyalaya and New India School (2003-12)?

Meenatai: I guess things happened to me. The basic reasons are because some things came to my mind to start with, due to the unconditional love I had for my students. Another and extremely important reason is ALL teachers I worked with, Tai’s, Dada’s and my seniors accepted me absolutely wholeheartedly. Their contribution to all these programs, initiatives happened due to the loving (and often due to the logic and reason) and understanding, bonding and trust we had amongst us. One other reason I dare say is that I am instinctive and highly perceptive person. The other BIG reason is “MY” school where I studied 5th -11th in Kolhapur, which gave me many lessons for life. Abhinav and New India School where I worked are “OUR” schools. I never indulge in mentioning My school, My teachers and My children. They are always OUR school, Our teachers and Our children… because the onus of ownership in any school lies upon the TEAM – “All for One and One for All” is also something that we believed in. Further, my corporate experience contributed in acceptance from all.

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I must also mention that almost each initiative and program that we engaged in had a solid basic driving principle behind it. Maybe I chanced upon it after it’s rolling in well and proper! Therefore I mentioned that I play a little more by instinct than intellect.

Let me enumerate the programs and the principles behind which were also at times for sheer joy and fun. And all of us at Abhinav Vidyalaya and New India School think that creating joy, fun, laughter and wholesome entertainment is one of the most important facets to engage in education.

Also let me clarify one thing, people often say that I undertake a lot of experiments….

No please! Please NO!

Because of the kind of love I have for kids, I kept on getting different ideas, but I have never experimented on kids. I never treated them as guinea pigs.

We have always discussed and brainstormed in our TEAM at length, any new concept /idea that we decided to implement.

We enter into any new initiative, with thorough planning and forethought and of course with butterflies in our bellies!

The following are the various initiatives that we pioneered!

  • No donations
  • No Interviews for students until STD 2
  • Earlier the parents were interviewed but now the Parents interview the Teachers and the Principal in an effort to find out whether the teachers in the school know about the 3-5 year olds, their psychology and their problems. PTA members are present to watch the process of admission.
  • No competition, exams, ranks or numbers in Preschool and Kindergarten.
  • First Day of child in school is a great experience with a lot of fun, flowers, cultural programs and mother/grandmother sitting inside the classroom until the child is used to surroundings and people. No trauma of an unknown place and/or person.
  • To enhance the experiences and creativity the children are patiently and lovingly introduced without force to a broad spectrum of activities including – Art, Drawing, Colouring, Sports, Puzzles, Blocks, Dramatics etc.  In fact we believe that children are born with all these talents, Teachers have to be the facilitators to make children feel free to experiment with these.
  • Freely conducted unbiased PTA meetings, workshops and games with the parent community- encouraging cross learning.
  • Grandparent visits to pre-school. All 4 Sambandhis meet on this occasion at the school to watch their grandchild’s gimmicks and engagement in the school activities. This also impacts family integration apart from learning, respecting and helping the seniors at home, on the streets etc…
  • Tai-Dada Day.
  • Every child to participate in Annual Day on Stage. Also no speeches/guest lecturers or prize distribution on Annual Day.
  • Lectures from eminent persons for students class wise.
  • Mind and Body development training including Sex education from 5th STD onward.
  • Senior KG sendoff for STD 10th students to bond between senior and young students
  • Dolls wedding
  • Celebrating various diverse Festivals and National occasions. Greeting Cards for Mothers & Teachers on Guru Pournima day
  • Performance from famous and well known artists, musicians and dancers to inspire and encourage such pursuits.
  • Similarly informative talks from Medical and other professions to expose our children to variety of possibilities in their later life.
  • Tabla (percussion) training by masters
  • Mensa workshops for Gifted Students from Std 5th, 6th & 7th.
  • We used to teach shapes to children in their K.G. It is because very young children have a great capability to remember shapes. We also know how 8-10 year olds are able to solve the Rubik’s cube faster than adults
  • I am a person who worries about OUR Nation, Patriotism and such related ideas and I have always wanted our children to be aware of this. We always have a MAP of India in all our classes.
  • We also made children from Sr. K.G recite 1-10 numbers in various languages. In that class they have a good concept of number up to 10. Apart from such programs, our school made conscious effort, that we had mother’s name in our registers. We would also write girl’s name first on the catalog followed by boys names. Most schools despite having many women teachers , write boy’s name first.
  • You will find that all our teachers and students say “PLEASE”, “THANK YOU”, “MAY I”, “SORRY” whenever occasion rose. Language is the vehicle of your thoughts. If you use the words often, the meaning follows and you think the thoughts genuinely.

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CB5: Wow! Meenatai, your experiences coupled with your energy and lots of new, well thought out initiatives! Must have been a task to roll them out? Where did you find the support?

Meenatai: I had colleagues who were very supportive throughout and enthusiastic about everything we were planning to do. No one ever resisted me. I give them full credit of whatever success I have achieved; one person can run a factory but not a school. I am very grateful to them. Even Tatya Saheb never questioned anything I suggested.

Here is one anecdote of our Team work…

Once, a Principal of another school came to meet me. All our teachers were covering books, some 400 books were to be covered. She was surprised to see and commented about it. So I told her that I am here because you have come to meet me. Otherwise I was also with the teachers covering books!

CB5: You were completely dedicated to the school. What were the sacrifices you had to make?

Meenatai: I did miss out looking after my family, specially my son, and I do feel bad about it now. I now feel that I could have given him more time!

CB5: What would you say are your Success factors?

Meenatai: People around me have to be happy, anyone – my colleagues boss or anyone who meets me shouldn’t feel – “Oh why did I see this women today!” They should always feel – “Oh I am so happy I met Meena today”.

Happiness is success.

Respect for others… first for children.

Equality – believe and practice in equality.

All of us make mistakes…learn from them.

Must not hurt others and try to understand others perspective.

CB5: And Meenatai can you share with us some of the achievements that you cherish?

Meenatai: Happy students of Abhinav and New India schools.

The biggest encouragement and support came from the unconditional love children and parents offer me even today.

The “Meena Teacher! Meena Teacher!” chants of all the little children as I arrived in school moves me to tears even now as it did with onlookers and parents.

This is my greatest reward, award, achievement, success, happiness and fulfillment!

CB5: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Meenatai: “All for one and one for all” is my favorite line.

Try and have Affection for everyone around you

“Learning through love” is our motto in New India School and my life philosophy.

But more than students I would give advice to teachers don’t yell, don’t hit the students and don’t talk rudely to them. If you want to touch a child, do it with love.

Remember how much your own children and your students have FORGIVEN you. Learn it from them.

CB5: Meenatai…As always listening and talking with you is not only enriching it is inspiring!

We are sure that our readers will enjoy reading about your experiences and choices and some of them will be motivated to choose a career as a Teacher and Educator!

We Thank you deeply for the interview and sharing so openly with us and our readers!

Until our next Blog on another interesting profession…

Thank You

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VISIT : www.CB5.in

 

Interview with Sonali Damle!

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In our pursuit to assist the youth to make the Right Academic/Career Choices, we have interviewed several successful individuals.

This interview is with Sonali Damle – Management Consultant, Director Bain Capability Center.

Sonali has an MBA in Finance from the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School; Master of Science from Washington University, Bachelor of Architecture from Pune.

She is highly qualified with a rich and varied experience in the industry in the US and India.

Straddling between Strategic thinking and Detail orientation, Thinking out of the box, Strong Goal Orientation and Vision have been key to her success.

Sonali studied Architecture up to the Master’s degree and practiced the profession before choosing to move to Business and then to Business Administration.

We believe that this interview will be insightful, motivating and will give direction to people who are trying to make Career Choices or switch to a different career!

Read on to find what she has to share about her earlier and current profession….

CB5: Please share some detail about your current professional activities. What do you do?

Sonali: I have over 15 years’ experience in the offshoring industry as a consultant focused on banking process offshoring; an entrepreneur through a start-up in New York in the data and information mapping space and most recently as a business leader with Bain.

Currently, as Director, Bain Capability Center, I am responsible for spearheading “Centers of Expertise” that could augment the standard consulting lifecycle. As part of this role, I have the overall responsibility for the Bain Capability Center (BCC) which is based in India.

CB5: Your formal education and your professional career have different tracks…How did you decide on the line for the formal education? What made you select this line of study?

Sonali: When I was in my XI standard we were visiting our family friend who was a “Brick and Mortar” Architect. I was impressed and inspired by the potential to build “castles” as a young girl and so decided to become a student of Architecture in Pune where I graduated summa cum laude and went on to pursue a Masters Degree in the US.

Thereafter, I got an opportunity to work at the National University of Singapore and soon realized that it was really the virtual world that interested me more. I moved back to the US and set up my own business in Computer Graphics in the US. In the late 90s developing intelligence systems for construction was unique. It was new and fascinating. It was also intellectually rewarding due to the unique combination of Design and Math in ways that engaged both the right and left brain.

My husband and I ran the business for 3 years and realized that a Formal Business Education and Network was necessary to scale a business. I decided to go back to school for an MBA at the Wharton Business School.

CB5: When and How did you get into your current area of work? What were/are your motivators? What made you change your career path as defined by your formal education?

Sonali: The move from Architecture was part circumstance and part a realization of a keen interest in understanding business. In 1999, I co-founded Intercorp Inc. in New York. This was a great opportunity to combine my education and interest. The company was primarily focused on geospatial mapping of the survey and aerial photography data to inform construction at major infrastructure hubs such as ports.

I exited the company with a sale to an engineering firm to get an MBA and broaden my business skills.

Consulting came as a natural next step, as it is a field that exposes you to work in the most nebulous questions for a business and has fast track learning and exposure across many different industries. This exposure also comes with great responsibility and impact. A consultant’s advice can influence the direction that companies take and can have a long-lasting impact on the overall business and industry. That is both, highly energizing as well as challenging. The variety of experience across industries, geographies, and capabilities develops acute business acumen. It attracts the smartest minds who have the ability to synthesize multi-dimensional issues through intellectual curiosity, analytical rigor, creativity, and practicality. Working with such people is rewarding on many levels.

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CB5: What do you enjoy most about your current profession?

Sonali: People: Motivated, hardworking and smart colleagues with a  passion for solving problems and an amazing ‘can do attitude’ .. what more could one ask for. You are challenged everyday to be a better version of yourself!

Opportunity to innovate, be entrepreneurial and create broad and lasting influence in the consulting industry based on understanding a deep customer need and solving for it

Intellectual fulfillment: cracking diverse set of questions, exposure to different industries, analytical outlook backed by facts and data

From thinking about which country a cement manufacturer should expand in,  to what the customer preference for a particular brand of say a gaming console – Xbox, Nintendo could be or is it “back to the desktop” – a trend we have going on now —  there’s never a dull moment!

CB5: In your opinion what are your success factors? What elements about your personality help in this success?

Sonali: Straddling between Strategic thinking and detail orientation;  Ability to envision out of the box solutions to problems while ensuring implementation; Strong goal orientation; Vision; Hard work.

CB5: What are the significant achievements in your present career that you would like our readers to know?

Sonali: I was the Gold Medalist for BArch, Pune University;

I completed a 2 year Masters program in 1 year;

Starting a Business at a young age;

Successfully balancing work and home;

Currently, I have the big role and responsibility of nurturing the next generation and at the same time upholding world standards.

CB5: What were some of the sacrifices you had to make to reach the level of success that you have achieved?

Sonali: Undivided attention and stress-free time with family.

Sonali Family-CB5

CB5: Would you have any advice for the younger generation, especially someone who is at crossroads trying to select an education path, say someone between ages 14-21 years?

Sonali: Be honest about why you want in a particular career. Find what you will enjoy doing even when things are not going well. Research your options by talking to people from those professions, asking them what a day in their life looks like; what is the hardest part of their job. What companies you will work with etc. if you chose a particular profession. Try your best to put yourself in their shoes and know what you are getting into to see if it fits with your idea of an ideal career choice.

Be willing to roll up your sleeves to get into new things; go deep and work hard

Beyond baseline capability, if you are a self-starter; can work with ambiguity; like “figuring things out” and are a motivated person, that is what will make you successful in this changing world.

CB5: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Sonali: Work hard, Stay motivated, Ask questions, along with IQ and EQ, CQ- Curiosity Quotient is very important. Don’t forget to Have fun!

CB5: Thank you so much for giving us your valuable time. We really appreciate it. We are sure our readers will be inspired and successful in their careers after reading about successful people like yourself!

Until our next Blog on another interesting profession…

Thank You

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PART – II ANALYSIS using Five Factor Model

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Let us study the Personality of the three characters in this movie which may answer the Q posed…

Using the Five Factor Model Scales C-A-N-O-E

“WHY DOES MY BOSS CHALLENGE ME ALL THE TIME?”

Miranda Priestly, the ever demanding and unsatisfied boss. She is known as much for her icy demeanor, as for her outstanding power within the fashion world.

Miranda the BOSS clearly demonstrates the following TRAITS

– Highly Goal Focused (High on the C-Conscientiousness scale)

  • High Achiever
  • Highly Organised, Driven/Motivated, Perfectionist and detail-oriented

A – An extreme Challenger (Low on Agreeableness scale)

  • My way or High Way – Rigid, Opinionated and Arrogant
  • Very low modesty (high Pride), Self-needs always a priority

N – Cool, Calm and Resilient (Low on the N-Negative Emotionality scale)

  • Calculating, Forthright, Confident but rare show of anger, very collected and in control of emotions

O – Appears to have varied interests (High on the Openness scale)

  •   Scheming, Has complex strategies, creative

E – Appears to be Ambiverted (Middle of the Extraverted scale)

  •    Appears comfortable in doing things alone and in large gatherings

Emily Charlton the always wanting to please Secretary

Her primary trait characteristic demonstrated is right sided Accommodation – Servile, but having self-needs

AND

Andrea, the doe eyed diminutive and submissive newcomer who eventually makes her own choices!

C – Goal Focused (High on the C-Conscientiousness scale)

  • High achiever but flexible
  • Highly Driven/Motivated, somewhat Organised with a need for Perfection and detail and comfortable with some degree of multitasking

A – A centric trait of how can I create a Win-Win (Middle on Agreeableness scale)

  • More modest, Has a continuous need to serve especially her Boss

N – Has some nervous edge (Middle to right on the N-Negative Emotionality scale)

O – Appears to have varied interests (High on the Openness scale)

  • Likes complexity, creates strategies to cope with the challenges, is creative and is an explorer

E – Appears to be more Extraverted than her boss (High on the Extraverted scale)

  • Appears comfortable in doing things with others most of the time.

AS we paint a Personality Picture of the three characters, we can clearly see the needs of the BOSS and

The movie is all about the struggles that people around Miranda have with the demands that she continuously makes…

Is there a solution?

Well clearly not…. Miranda will continue to achieve success with her personality, she will be demanding and will get her way – this way or that…. With the single minded Achievement Motivation. Very few Relationships matter to her…

In the end, one almost sees her respecting Andrea as she decides to go in her own career direction after delivering on ALL the demands made by Miranda.

Challengers may find other Challengers adversaries and will do everything to win BUT will also have the most respect for the other Challenger!

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Why does my boss Challenge me all the time?

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Have you seen the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”?

If not please do…

and then let us explore the above Question!

Below are a few links narrating and summarizing the movie and behaviors and episodes between

Miranda Priestly, the ever demanding and unsatisfied boss. She is known as much for her icy demeanor, as for her outstanding power within the fashion world.

and

Emily Charlton the always wanting to please secretary and

Andrea, the doe eyed diminutive and submissive newcomer who eventually makes her own choices!

https://www.bustle.com/articles/167142-miranda-priestly-from-the-devil-wears-prada-is-one-misunderstood-villain

https://www.enotes.com/topics/devil-wears-prada

14 Life Lessons from Devil Wears Prada!!!

https://thoughtcatalog.com/madison-moore/2013/01/14-life-lessons-from-the-devil-wears-prada/

Let us explore the Personality of the BOSS

Personality of Emily and

Personality of Andrea ….

What do we find ????

Keep a look out for our next blog exploring the Personality of the BOSS!

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High Detail Oriented Manager!!!

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How Personality Similarities / Differences affect relationship – AT WORK or OUTSIDE?

Mr. Katekor is the supervisor of a Production Line in an Automobile Company!

As his name suggests nothing escapes him. Every detail every fine element is noticed by him…

Further, he is a black belt trainer in Kaizen and 6Sigma process methodologies.

Can we imagine what his subordinates think of him?

A few adjectives/nouns, comments used to name him are  –

“Microscope”, Give him a needle in a Haystack and he will find it!

Oh, God… One more review with him

And then there are some smart cookies who simply upward delegate….

“Sir… what do you think we should do to improve the quality of this component?”

His team is always pressured and feel that they are always being watched. Mr. Katekor does not tolerate any slippages and he publicly gives feedback on mistakes (even minute ones).

He is always putting his team members down.

However, his bosses are very happy with Mr. Katekor! And they don’t want to let him move from being the Line in-charge!

Mr. Katekor has aspirations and wants to grow in the organization!

How can he move up the ladder? Can he find someone to take over his responsibilities – His need for Detail and High Perfection are his STRENGTH or DEAD WEIGHT??

What advice can we give Mr. Katekor?


Please share any such similar experiences you may have come across.

FOLLOW US for many different Case Studies and Interviews!

Check out the CB5 JODI Report and identify areas of alignment and conflict between two people.

Also, check out other Shakti Reports like Manager Shakti and Leader Shakti.

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