#Leaders4Future: Tete-a-Tete with Amrita Saha, IIM Kozhikode alumna

We recently caught up with Amrita Saha, IIM Kozhikode alumna and a Business Process Consultant with experience across multiple industry verticals. Here’s what this seasoned professional had to say:

Q1. Firstly, a very warm welcome from Ideasmakemarket.com team. Tell us something about your background.

I hail from a middle class nuclear family from the city of heritage and hullor (fun and festivity) –Kolkata. As is the story with most Bengali parents, I was told that books and education were my only way to glory and I followed suit. As is the tradition for most students with an okay-ish result, I found myself treading the beaten track towards becoming an engineer. I did my graduation from Jadavpur University, West Bengal. A failed attempt at CAT in the year 2009 and a recession hit market ensured that I was coding my way to glory in TCS Chennai for 2.5 years when the desire to do an MBA reared its head again.What ensued was a frantic effort to figure out the best options for the same- CAT, XAT,MAT and I zeroed it on the GMAT.CAT happened due to my mother’s pressure to give the desi colleges a chance and to this day I thank my mom for the push. English preparation for GMAT, natural flair for numericals that most Indians are taught to treasure and a stroke of luck later I found myself at the stepping stone to IIM Kozhikode. Two years of exploring extremities and experimenting and here I stand a more rounded off person trying to make my mark in this world.

Q2. Our readers would love to know about the journey in your professional career so far.

My professional career started in 2009 as a manual tester in TCS Chennai.From being a person who hated coding during graduation, it was a painstaking journey picking up the tricks of the trade. But once I started learning I realised that I do have a flair for picking up the nuances of the business and my business knowledge helped me across functions and very soon I was leading the development team. I was working for AnswersOnDemand – a web-based platform which produced complex reports and leader boards to help strategic decision making for large FMCG brands. The kind of marketing insights generated was phenomenal and that was my first exposure to the world of marketing concepts like segmentation. Targeting etc. Those were my first glimpses into the world of Kotler. Fast forward to 2015. Post MBA,I really did not wish to waste the 3.5 years of pre-MBA experience and IT consulting seemed to be the perfect choice which would help me leverage my IT knowledge and apply it in diverse contexts. Thus Infosys Consulting was a welcome option.1 year into this journey , I have learnt a lot and look forward to learning a lot more.

Amrita Saha

Q3. Tell us something about the learning experience in your vibrant career so far. Any one incident that has taught you the most.

Every day is a learning experience in the day of a consultant as every engagement needs you to learn something new. But I hold my internship days as a sales manager for a small ecommerce firm really close to heart. I interned in this small start-up which was trying to make its foray into the world of ecommerce. I was entrusted with the duty of getting sellers on-board. Those were the days that taught me the value of money – paisa by paisa. Meagre stipend coupled with hot summer sales trips in crowded buses and long hours of discussion (which went fruitless in most cases ) imbibed in me a deep respect for patience and perseverance. My boss and the founder of the startup was a living example of both. He had given up a cushy job to follow his dream and he taught one invaluable lesson for life “If you do not believe in your dream,who else will!!”

Q4. How do you see the IT sector shaping up? What are your expectations from this government?

The IT sector will continue to grow and flourish. With India being a source of cheap man-power for IT  and the ever increasing number of engineering schools in the country I do not see the trend changing. However it is saddening to see how the future of IT in India is so dependent on US regulations related to visa etc. and how every elections in the US is a cause of concern for my industry. I sincerely hope that we make our mark as innovators in this space and be the brains  behind the wave rather than just supplying the workforce that powers the IT engine.

There are a lot of ways IT can be leveraged to improve the living standards of people in India. I would expect the government to work on regulations and policies to help the same.

Q5. What do you feel is the biggest challenge for the youth? Do you feel they can play a more constructive role?

The greatest challenge for the youth today is to stay away from all the external influences and follow their dreams. There is too much pressure from all around to conform to the collective image of being successful. To find the courage to go against the tide and pursue one’s passion takes a lot of grit and mental stamina and I just hope someday we all can do it.

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Youth can play a constructive role only when we teach them to value their aspirations and pursue them to the end. A job done half heartedly is just a job while dreams pursued with passion can achieve the unimaginable. The day we teach them to be what they are rather than follow the herd we would have taken a huge pressure off them and that would free them to play a lot more constructive role.

Q6. What are the challenges that you have faced in your career? Any mistakes you have made in this journey?

I have been blessed enough to move from one challenge to another without much hardship or none that have made a permanent damage anyway.I have learnt so many lessons on the way and they have enriched me in unbelievable ways.I would not be the person I am today without the mistakes I have made and given my age I have made plenty of them.I am pretty confident that I will make many more and just hope to take it in my stride with a pinch of salt.

Q7. How do you feel MBA has helped you? Tell us about your life at IIM Kozhikode

Yes it did. It turned me into a more decisive and confident individual. It taught me to prioritize and see  things for what they are rather than get enamored by the externalities.

IIM K was a lot like a time capsule. Life at its intense best delivered in a two year package where the extremities ranged from crazy nights finishing assignments to sleepless nights partying like there is no tomorrow. However, IIM Kozhikode was  also a lesson in simple living. Staying in metro cities all my life, I had gotten used to so many privileges, but IIM K taught me that we need a lot less to live happily. It taught me the power of team-work and shared responsibilities. But most importantly it taught me to live life in the moment. I was a person who used to hold off celebrations till landmarks are achieved. IIM K taught me that the best time is NOW Click To Tweet. Slog hard when you have to but celebrate harder when you want to. I can summarize it in two lines:

“yeh mat soch ki zindagi mein kitne pal hai 

Yeh dekh, har pal mein kitni zindagi hai”.

Q7. If you are to list down three things that any professional should keep in mind, what would that be?

Three things to keep in mind :

1.Keep learning new things to keep yourself relevant

2.Nothing builds your brand like the quality of your work and make it count

3.The relationships you build at work are important. Being supportive and inspiring at work is more important than being competitive

Q8. Work-life balance is an important aspect of any professional’s life. As an young female professional, how do you manage it?

I manage my work life balance the same way as any MBA manages it.I work hard and party harder. I assign myself timelines and small targets. I achieve them one at a time take a break and then get back to the grind. Break anything into mini packets and it ceases to be intimidating and seems achievable.

Q9. What would be your advice to young MBAs, professionals and entrepreneurs in the making?

I am one of those who does not like to be advised on anything.If pushed to it ,I will just say “ do not stop looking for your passion wherever you are.There is none so lucky as someone who is passionate about their work”.

Q10. One last question, where do you see yourself  in the near future?

I take one day at a time. I would love to go into pro-bono consulting some day. That seems a long way off. So, for now I will concentrate on learning the ropes of the consulting world and taking baby steps towards the bigger dream.

We wish you the very best for your future !

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#Leaders4Future: Tete-a-Tete with Amrita Saha, IIM Kozhikode alumna

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