My Journey

Abhijit Gangoli

(Alumnus PGDM 1996-98)

Vice President Media at Ziff Davis B2B

Seasoned entrepreneur with 18 years of experience in successfully building businesses in the Sales and Marketing domain for the B2B Tech industry.

My Journey

IMDR holds a special place in my heart, for I have spent the best moments of my life on that beautiful campus. When I did my MBA in 1996- 98, there were many management schools that were considered great from multiple perspectives. The IIMs, XLRIs etc. were aspirational for most, but even outside of these, many colleges came across as very strong in terms of curriculum, placements, grooming and the overall culture. IMDR has always maintained a down to earth, and humble attitude that almost seems to scream out- “Don’t pick me!!!” And yet, many of us chose to join IMDR. Was it an appropriate choice? When you come to think of it, the decision to join IMDR was one of the best choices I’ve made.

Institutions like IMDR have a profound and positive impact on the lives of its students and same is the case with me. Twenty years later, I still carry with me the lessons that I learnt in college. IMDR taught me humility and integrity; it taught me to be myself irrespective of the circumstances around me, to do what I believe is right, and to respect everyone around me unconditionally. The selection process by themselves always ensures that every student of the institute had the aptitude to learn, apply and succeed, but the above mentioned qualities and values that were imbibed in us at IMDR have helped many of us in ways beyond comprehension. IMDR has not only helped us in building successful careers, but also in becoming better human beings.

Management education has been pivotal for me. Though I have never been much of a theory person (not something to be proud of), my thought process and decision making is influenced by the education I’ve had. To put it in perspective, I may not remember anything from my four years of Engineering, but I believe that it plays a big role in how I apply logic to any situation, and take data driven decisions. Likewise, some of the subjects that we studied in our Management course, don’t necessarily lend themselves to my work in terms of theoretical frameworks, but the core foundational knowledge does help in taking the right calls and making informed decisions. Of course, depending on which stream one picks up to build a career in, certain aspects of your management education end up playing a bigger role than others.

There are so many people who have shaped my career and made me who I am that it is difficult to attribute all of it to one person or a particular event. I started my career with brief stints in Sales at Modi Xerox, and then Castrol India before jumping into entrepreneurship in 2000. The decision of doing something on my own was at that point completely irrational. We really had no clear direction as to what we were getting into, and like most things- being your own boss seemed like an exciting thing. The reality is that entrepreneurship is ten times harder than being in the corporate world. Our entrepreneurial journey has been a long, painful, emotionally draining and yet highly rewarding for me and Milind Katti who was my classmate at IMDR in 1996-98 and business partner since 2000. It took us more than 12-14 years of hard work, persistence, and financial struggles to get to where we are today. And while I strongly believe that all things being the same, the outcome of our journey could have been a very different one from what it is today had it not been for a little bit of luck. The three things that mattered the most for our success are:

a) Persistence & hard work

b) Trust & Mutual Respect

c) Financial Discipline

Being an entrepreneur is a highly personal decision that one has to take. While the drivers for this decision could be many- passion, hard work, and strength/will to stand up to all kinds of challenges is critical for an entrepreneur to be successful. There may be exceptions, but by large, economic success takes years in most entrepreneurial journeys. And therefore, it is important to set the right expectations when taking this step. In my opinion, there are two phases in one’s life when she/he can take the entrepreneurial plunge.

a) When you are young, high on energy, have a higher risk appetite and lower familial responsibilities

b) At a later stage of your career once you have built strong capabilities, credibility as well as network in the business world to support your decision.

Entrepreneurship is exciting, fun, and as the saying goes- “Higher the Risk, higher the reward”, it can truly be extremely rewarding. That being said, the corporate world today offers so many exciting opportunities supported by great compensation packages once you’ve established yourself in the field. I personally don’t see any downside to having a personal aspiration to succeed in the corporate world. Those who wish to become an entrepreneur must become one and those who wish to climb the corporate ladder must do so. What is important is that one must be ready to put in copious amounts of hard work in whatever her/she chooses to do in life

Skills, competencies can be built/gained via training, but it is a person’s overall attitude towards the job, life and the people around that helps her/him succeed in the long run.

Achieving success in one’s career is function of multiple attributes, and the influence that some attributes have on one’s career differ from person to person. Passion, ambition, functional expertise, people management skills are some of the ones that I can identify with. However, in my opinion ethical values stands above all of these not just from a perspective of building a successful career, but more towards leading a happy and satisfied life. Your ethical values is what people will recognize and remember you for in the long run. And while short term gains can be achieved by any means, building long lasting credibility & respect, which in turn will pay dividends in more ways than one, can be attained only on the backbone of a strong and uncompromising value system. Be true to

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