To get your own 'signature experience'...

To get your own 'signature experience'...


To get your own 'signature experience'...

It has been commonplace for individuals in their 20s to chalk out a bucket list, comprising, say, the books they would read before they turned 30, the places they would travel to before hitting 40, or the investments they’d get into before hitting mid-life crisis etc. But how often does one draw such parallels in one’s professional life? Well, 32-year-old Innu Nevatia, is certainly someone who has had solid takeaways from her career thus far.

Being from Kolkata, she was the first from her family to break norms and head to Bengaluru for a professional degree. She liked being the rebel and reckons it made her an independent individual. Soon after college, Innu fell into the grind of the IT industry for over 2.5 years. Although she worked for two big organisations (SAP & IBM), she still felt like she wasn’t getting a complete picture of what she was doing. That is where she believes that working in big organisations could be a hindrance. For some, it may feel too structured; your ideas may take too much time to get noticed; there may be too many processes to be navigated through for execution.

When in doubt, Innu jumped on to the MBA bandwagon. But towards the end of her term at the Indian School of Business, she chose to be slightly different from her peers. Instead of adhering to the fundamental norm of cracking that job at the end of curse, she chose to go to the Wharton Business School at University of Pennsylvania for an exchange term, a decision that was challenged by many of her batchmates.

But Innu had quite made up her mind about it. And she most certainly has no regrets about it. “For me, it was a cultural experience that shaped me holistically. I was to be joining a bunch of students who had already been together for 1.5 years or so. There would be pre-formed groups and cliques I would have to break into, as
opposed to back home, where you always have peers that you could lean onto. It was phenomenal. It was probably diversity in the truest sense of the word,” she recounts.

Of course, when she came back to India, most of her batchmates from business school had started their jobs and the only inkling she had was that she wanted to do something in the digital space because e-commerce was picking up back then in 2011. So, she joined InMobi, not a very well-known startup back then. This did mean having to give up on lucrative offers and joining a smaller setup. But the thing with working in a startup, she reasons, is that although resources may not be abundant, you will find a way out or someone to help you. Which is probably why many are tearing away from mainstream jobs to start something on their own.
Her 5-odd years at InMobi taught her much about getting out of her comfort zone, taking up roles she was not adept at, and to be ambitious. For instance,
for someone with no finance experience, she was key when it came to raising Series C funding for the firm. She was responsible for deciding whether or not to enter the South Korea market, to set up a global revenue management system, to establish strategic partnerships in China. She terms all of it a “signature experience”, something she may never have gotten to do otherwise.

About a year down the line at InMobi, she had already decided that if she ever quit the place, it would be to start her own company. And that she did recently. Pretty soon, she and her husband will be launching their own e-commerce platform in the local Indian art and craft space. “I had learnt so much at InMobi over the last few years, that I knew I could take a risk at this stage in my life. The opportunity cost of leaving the job was quite high,” she says, adding that her partner and in-laws have always offered a sound support system.

Why would she want to quit a good job? Because, the earlier you fail in life (if), the better, says Innu. She also believes that, as part of work, you should travel for as long as your personal life lets you. “But if you are someone at the founder-level, with a 4-year-old child and feel that you can't travel much, then you could work from home or manage a global team from a centre. The idea is to keep up a timeline if you have promised so. The challenge could be that you need to take a late-night call from home, be present early in office for client meeting. The fact is that more people are becoming appreciative of the fact that you are also a mother. But it is important that you set expectations right,” adds the to-be entrepreneur.

Succinctly putting across her learnings over the years, Innu says: Take risks,
experiment; you will not know what you missed out on until you are ambitious.
“Inspire to be the best; don’t set mediocre goals. And trust your founders and peers. Do not micromanage.”

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