Photograph by: ACS-DTU and IIChE DTU Chapter
DTU Times interviewed Abhijeet Singh, Founder, StepVue, who was in DTU for a Career Consulting Workshop organized by ACS-DTU and IIChE DTU Chapter in collaboration with StepVue.
How does coming back to DTU after all these years feel?
DTU has been a home to me right from the start, and whatever I am today is because of this place. Coming back here always feels like a homecoming and is one of the most amazing feelings one can ever experience. The excitement and vibes you get on the campus, especially the beauty of its design, always makes me feel upbeat.
How does being an alumnus of DTU impact you professionally? Is there anything that college taught you that made a special contribution to your career?
I think that one gains a lot of experience in a place like DTU. It is here that I learnt the importance of having a great network and a cooperative peer group. Most of the things that I achieved in the early days of my career were due to the network of people that I created during my college days. They were superbly supportive of me, even when I graduated and moved out. Not just your batchmates, but also the seniors who graduate prior to you and are in the job market are ever ready to assist you. DTU has one of the strongest student communities and the alumni of DTU will help you out through thick and thin. No matter what phase of life you are in, there is always guidance available if you reach out.
How did you handle the switch between DTU and the Rotterdam School of Management?
When I joined GAIL after college, I was at a very comfortable place in my life, but the leisure is what got to me. Hence, I decided to switch things up. Human beings have a tendency to get used to their comfort zones, yet I have always tried to come out of mine. After spending some years at GAIL, I decided that since I had lived in India all my life, I needed some overseas experience. I wanted to have a global outlook towards business and that is what drove me towards Rotterdam.
The experience at RSM was phenomenal. Everything was extremely organized, people went out of their way to help you, and the structure and order in your everyday life was extremely inspiring. I was used to chaos, and the difference made me a little uncomfortable at first. I learnt the importance of having a functional work-life balance, and gained a lot of insight and professionalism because of the time I spent in the Netherlands. The immense diversity was also very motivating - I had classmates from 35 different nations, all studying together! Everyone came from very different backgrounds, from marines to fashion, and yet we were learning the same curriculum.
How is networking with the peer group at a foreign institute different from networking at an Indian institute?
At an Indian B-school such as the ISB or an IIM, if there are a hundred students enrolled, nearly 80 students would be getting a job in India and hence, would be residing here. However, if you want to build a global network, that is where Rotterdam School of Management - or any other foreign B-school, for that matter - would be a real help to you. You spend a whole year with students hailing from a multitude of countries. Once the program is over, they go in different directions, different countries and different roles. This diversifies your network. Thanks to this, my network has expanded to Japan, Australia, the whole of Europe and even Africa. This gives you the avenue of getting to know a country first-hand, as I can call up any of my acquaintances and get the required information easily. I can do this for any part of the world, since my alumni network is spread across almost every country. I have been with people of varied nationalities, and each one of them has imparted me with a life experience of their own. When you work with a global team in a time bound-environment, it helps you to understand how their cultures shape their personalities.
What were the key factors which made you decide to establish a company in India instead of establishing it elsewhere?
I had an opportunity to work with Adidas Netherlands on a living management project. Though it wasn’t exactly an internship, it provided some useful insights into how Adidas worked. After completing my MBA program, I moved back to India, since I absolutely love my country. I made the decision of moving back before the program even started. I wanted to learn the best that was available out there and come back to bring in something new for the country.
Besides, there is an inherent advantage in founding a company in India due to high demand. Imagine that you are doing something niche which caters to a specific section of the total population. In a country with a total population of 2 million, your product would target a small audience, and you might not even find a break in that country. India, however, is one of the biggest markets in the world. This is because of the huge chunk of population that resides here. Due to this, no matter how good or bad your product is, you will always a healthy market for it in India. Hence, founding a start-up in India makes the economies of scale work in favour of that start-up, as the market, the opportunities, and the possibilities are huge.
Since you have worked in the core technical as well as the consulting industry, how has the transition between the two sectors been?
I believe that it is not difficult to make a transition between the two industries. The only major transition which one needs to make is a change of mindset. When you are working in a PSU, you need to possess a certain mindset. There is a specific workflow which is the right way of doing things in a public sector environment. However, when you transition into a corporate or a start-up environment, you need to adjust your mindset. You have to be clear about what is expected from your new role, and you shouldn’t bring the ‘baggage’ from the previous role. Do not get stuck with the old workflow; whatever is being offered at the new company, appreciate it and adapt yourself.
Is there any final advice you would like to share with the students of DTU?
For the students of DTU, I would suggest that you should enjoy your time here. It might sound like a cliché, but the four years you spend here are going to be some of the best memories of your life. The friends you have made at DTU will stick with you for quite a long time in your career. You cannot say the same for an MBA or any other post-grad journey. This place is special, and so are the people who come here. One should focus on academics as well, but try to follow a balanced approach towards learning and experiencing the vast aspects of college life.