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I wanted to be a rich businessman in the US!

By Ashish Chandra
May 25, 2005 16:38 IST
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The good thing about your father running a successful business is that money is never in short supply.

The not-so-good part is that is kills any motivation to study hard.

This has certainly been my case.

Studying sucks!

Studies, I can assure you, were certainly not on my list of things-to-do all through my school years.

My grades got of control; my disinterest was evident to all. My teachers often called home to give my parents a earful. After which, I got a mouthful.

Finally, my parents decided they had to find a solution to my problem. They hit upon one that sounded heavenly: a holiday to the United States (being born with a silver spoon in my mouth has its advantages!).

Just before my Class X board examinations, when the other kids had their noses in their books, I accompanied my father on a business trip to the US.

Talk about life-changing experiences. I had one there.

I returned to India with just one dream: to be a rich businessman in the US.

Old habits die hard!

There is a lot truth to that cliché.

While I had a new goal, I lacked the mettle to pursue it. In other words, my studying habits did not change.

I sauntered into college with no great promise of achievement. All I could think of was getting out of the cruel clutches of the rigorous Indian education system.

Finally, my father took things into his own hands. He decided to have a heart-to-heart with me.

He got straight to the point. His lecture to me was summed up in one line: you will never be able to fulfill your dream if you continue to live like this.

A little miffed, but not totally changed, I continued at my pace.

My parents then found an outlet in astrology. Every renowned personality or guru (even a few self-proclaiming ones) read my hand.

Talk about unison in predictions. The all foresaw the same destiny: you will never make it abroad. If you do venture on distant shores, it will be as a tourist.

That sealed my fate! If everyone says the same thing, they can't all be wrong.

I sulked for a while, thinking how morbid life can be.

But, sometimes, criticism works better than encouragement.

And the thought of proving them all wrong began to kindle my interest.

Strategy, strategy!

My grey cells finally began to work.

If I had to start a business abroad, it would be a great asset to attain a degree there. But to get that degree, they value work experience. And family business does not score high on the list.

With renewed determination, I got myself enrolled into business school.

I actually completed a two-year MBA programme from an institution in Delhi with a specialisation in International Marketing. Armed with that, I joined a chemical manufacturing major as a Business Development Manager.

I succeeded, much to my parents' relief! In three years, I single-handedly increased the company's business by over 35 percent.

Having earned the relevant work experience, I decided to now tackle the GMAT examination (this time, neither my friends nor family were in the loop).

For someone who shunned everything about exams, I am proud to say I managed to do very well and got an admission at the Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University, to purse an MBA in corporate finance.

The finance programme here is ranked 13th in the US.

What's more, I did so with a 100 percent scholarship.

Once at business school, I enjoyed the academics (never thought that day would ever come). It was not about sitting down and making notes at lectures. It was all about class participation and hands-on projects.

Riding high

After two enjoyable years at B-school, I landed myself a job. I now work in Philadelphia but have my home in Rochester, New York. 

And, at 28, I am well on my way to fulfilling my dream.

I plan to start out on my own at 35. I will try my skill in a business related to financial instruments till I set up my own mutual fund one day (bonds, stocks and money markets have always fascinated me).

Oh yes, I have one more wish to pursue: meet all those fortune-tellers once again!

This was Ashish's story. Do you have a similar career story to share? Please write to us!


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Ashish Chandra