Published in TopMBA on Friday the 16th of September by Visnja Milidragovic
Gaurav Jain spent more than a decade working as a process management consultant assisting technology companies in India and Denmark in their attempts to get more ‘lean’. Now, a newfound perspective has led him to pursue an executive MBA as he seeks to bring about a career change. His aim is to become an entrepreneur who strives to help society as a whole function more efficiently and sustainably. Because of Gaurav’s efforts to date in this pursuit, working with various NGOs, he has been awarded a QS Community Scholarship, valued at US$2,000, which will go toward his ESADE executive MBA, the next step towards his future as a change maker.
A father of two daughters, Gaurav spent years building a successful career in IT. Over the years, however, his daily commute in urban centers of Pune and Kolkata, India, exposed him to a different kind of problem: One concerned with social issues, rather than the business operations that he handled daily in his work at IBM.
“Every day, from home to the office and back,” Gaurav reflects, “I was seeing kids on the side of the road who will never have the same starting opportunities as my daughters, because they don’t have any access to quality education.” Inspired by this realization – that missing this crucial aspect in one’s upbringing could mean, “getting on the wrong trajectory in life” – Gaurav began to turn his efforts towards helping underprivileged children.
Gaurav identified Akanksha Foundation, a local charity that helps Indian children with English language skills and was intending to donate money to its cause. However, he quickly learned that giving time – rather than money – would have more impact. Starting out as a volunteer teacher, his personal goal to help children in India “get a few steps closer to an equal starting line in life,” increasingly began to inform his professional aspirations. When he transferred to IBM’s Copenhagen office, he continued volunteering for an organization with similar aims, called Action Child Aid. However, this international move had much bigger implications on his career trajectory than a simple office change or new volunteer engagement. It inspired Gaurav to reevaluate the social impact of his work. “There is always a point in your career where you feel stagnant, and want to do more than just the job,” he adds.
International exposure key to solving problems innovatively, says Gaurav
Gaurav’s experience working between two continents has given him a newfound perspective on both his career and his life purpose. “I think studying and working in different places definitely opens your mind to think differently – and innovatively – about situations and ways of resolving a problem,” he says. Gaurav’s international exposure emboldened him to think more globally and contextualize his professional capacity within larger social issues. “My international exposure and living in different places really helped me become more open and think more about problems prevailing in society,” Gaurav explains. In examining ways in which he could apply his existing skills in a more meaningful way, he reflected on his career in IT and decided it was time for a career change – or rather, a reboot – towards becoming a social entrepreneur. Having identified gaps in his own skillset, he then decided that it was time to get more formal business training. It was time for an MBA.