Opportunities come knocking once in a while and sometimes open interesting doors that shape a person’s life. Something similar happened to Belgaum girl Sahitya Doddanavar, who chanced upon an opportunity to be a part of the IBuD ( Igniting Business Development) initiative of Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana, with a group of young budding entrepreneurs who would visit 6 cities in a week and meet some exemplary CEOs. Her parents encouraged her to sign up and thus began her whirlwind tour with fellow participants. Sahitya completed her schooling in St. Joseph’s Convent, went on to do her Diploma from Bharatesh Polytechnic and then joined KLE college of Engineering for her BE degree. She is also an accomplished Badminton player, an enthusiastic dancer and has deep interests in entrepreneurship. She has a very open approach towards life which was instrumental in her signing up for something she had never done before. She works for TCS as an engineer and had to pitch in extra hours so that she could go on her dream tour for a full week.
Q: How did it all start?
Sahitya: I came to know about this tour from my parents who motivated me to join for the rich experience it promised, and I don’t regret a bit. There were 50 participants in all who had to report at Chennai. The team comprised of just 2 girls and 48 boys. My team mates included some who were younger than me but had already had business experience. So I was glad to keep prodding them for insights.
Q: How was your experience?
Sahitya: We travelled by train by night and were put up in great hotels, but never had more than 10 minutes to get ready and move off to meet the CEOs. We used to be tired but had no time. We started from Chennai, then to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and also to Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat. It was a trip of a lifetime for me.
Q: Whom did you meet and what did you learn from them?
Sahitya: We first met Mr. Arun Jain of Polaris Computers. He guided us about the application of the three principles of Jainism, viz. Samyak Gyan, Samyak Darshan and Samyak Charitrya and how it can become a crucial part of our lives. He said that the best investment is in books.
We then went to Hyderabad where we met Mr. Bharat Reddy of NSN Labs. It was fascinating to see a person who has built such a wonderful enterprise. From there, we moved to Mumbai and met Mr. Nimish Kampani of JM Financial. It was a revelation when he told us that one must plan for the whole year’s finance in advance and then grow. We headed to Bangalore to meet Mr. Chenraj Jain. His lesson was to dig deep with efforts and ideas and only then could we hit the diamond mines.
In Mumbai, we had the fortune to meet Mr. Mangalprasad Lodha who gave us an amazing insight. He said that in his struggle days, he slept on the footpath and survived on pav, but, he said, even if you sleep on the footpath, make sure it is on the best street in the city and you have the best pav in town. Do your best, give your best, he said.
In Pune, we met Mr. Shantilal Mutha and was mesmerized by his giving nature. We also had a golden opportunity to meet Mr. D. S. Kulkarni of DSK and listen first hand of his vision for the DSK Dreamcity. I was amazed at how one person’s hard work and vision can lead to such a large business empire. His stories about old Pune and its charm took us back to that era.
We travelled to Ahmedabad and met Malatiben, one of the close associates of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. We also visited the Sabarmati Ashram, and our visit was planned to coincide with Gandhi Jayanti. Nothing can beat that experience where we saw not only Indians, but also people from across the world bowing before the father of the nation.
Q: How would you use these lessons?
Sahitya: I learnt a lot not only from the CEOs but also from my fellow participants. Managing time, dreaming big, punctuality, financial planning, time management, are some things which I could place key importance to. I also learnt that entrepreneurship is all about networking and planning. It could be a really hectic life. I plan to venture into some kind of entrepreneurship in the near future and these lessons will serve me well all my life.