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Leadership Talk with Hetal Sonpal


24 year old Hetal was jobless on Campus after Engineering. Though he had plans for further studies, it did hurt having no job and was sure he could find one. This is what got him to Bangalore and into the office of a job consultant. Little did he know that his life would change on meeting a random stranger.


Pranjal

Student, IMT Ghaziabad

24 year old Hetal was jobless on Campus after Engineering. Though he had plans for further studies, it did hurt having no job and was sure he could find one. This is what got him to Bangalore and into the office of a job consultant. Little did he know that his life would change on meeting a random stranger. The candidate before him had been job-hunting for 6 months and he was shocked to see his shoe sole…had a hole. Terrified at possibly his own fate in 6 months, he was determined to crack the Wipro interview the next day. 11 years at Wipro and 20 years in corporate life since then, Hetal still remembers that day.

At home on a warm Sunday morning in late September, as cool wind was blowing through the window, we were transfixed in front of our laptop, listening to yet another guest lecture. It was a story which jolted all of us wide awake. The story was shared by Mr. Hetal Sonpal, a Tedx Speaker, Startup Mentor, and Angel investor. It highlights how important it is to remember one’s roots and where one has come from. Speaking from experience of 20 years, he emphasized how corporate life has changed over these years, and how startups are the new emerging future.

Addressing the MBA students at IMT Ghaziabad, he took up the dilemma that most students face, “Should we start something of our own, or should we look for a job?” While understanding that MBA is often pursued with the prospect of grabbing a good job in a decent enterprise, he diligently addressed the issue at hand. 

He began with a beautiful simple statement that if one has “Risk se Ishq” then start-up ecosystem can be the way forward, but if not, then one should go for an established enterprise. His reasoning for the same was based on the facts that an MBA student would need to consider while making this choice. For a student, education loans, financial stability, familial responsibilities, ability to take risks and the desire for ownership can be some of the defining factors while making such a huge decision.

In the view of all the roadblocks and the risks in the startup ecosystem, Mr. Sonpal advised the students to work for 3 to 4 years, learn, grow and gain the knowledge, before starting on their own. The startups, as he makes an observation, are fast growing spaces, have more roles, more shared responsibilities and are actively seeking more people who come out of large enterprises. While at the same time, these enterprises are continuously moving forward, targeting millennials and the young generation, working in their preset structure as established over time. Thus, the experience gained from an enterprise will help the young minds to become ingenious entrepreneurs. Quoting Mr. Sonpal here, “It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than being a small fish in an ocean”, as he brilliantly addresses the dilemma urging everyone to weigh their options to reach the conclusion. 

Mr. Sonpal, however, apart from the knowledge on career paths, also gave the students some important life lessons. Giving a sneak peak into the future, he remarks that in the race to achieve one’s goals and constant investment in one’s social and professional lives, one might face deprioritization of the self. Amidst the struggle, it is important to not lose the essence of one’s individuality and he suggests the students to pick up and never let go of their hobbies for they will eventually be the refuge that one will need to keep the spirit alive. After all, as important as it is to build a successful career, it is also essential that we “build a happy life.”

Towards the end, a reader and a writer himself, he encouraged the students to take up reading. Reading, as is known, and he agrees, is an exercise that not only refreshes one’s mind but also opens up many doors for one to see and understand the beauty of life. He says, “reading is an important skill in order to learn how to manage life in general.” Sharing his wise wisdom gained through reading, with various concepts like the book of worries, secret of persistence, five second rules and many more, he made the talk not only engaging but also deeply informative and insightful.

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