Meet Ms. Neha Mehrotra, Sri Balaji Society Alumnus, 2003-2005 Batch
In Neha’s own words...
Born to a pretty liberal set of parents from Lucknow, I owe my discipline and confidence to Dad’s Army background. Post PMR my father joined Amity University and has been heading the Administration & Security since last 13 years now. My mother operates her own school and is carrying forward our family’s legacy of running educational institutes across Lucknow (Collectively we have over 7-8 schools & colleges last time I checked!). I have a younger brother who with his wife run a very successful catering and events company in our hometown itself. My 3 years old nephew is learning to cook stories and our brains (quite literally!) ????
So that is my family and now about me.
While there is much to talk about as I am blessed by the almighty above to have incessantly adventurous life which refuses to slow down no matter what. For the sanity of my readers, I will keep this limited to my first few days of college and the foundation it lay for the two years ahead - right up till now - when 14 years later I still feel a lot of gratitude to my Alma Mater - Sri Balaji Society for shaping me the way I am today. There isn't a doubt that it got the deeply embedded ‘Can Do Attitude’ and determination out of me, to not only survive but to thrive well in todays world and make my own space. I am an alumni of batch 2003-2005, Sri Balaji Society which I joined on a whimsical spree while finishing my advance course for Interior Designing, post graduating from DU. There wasn't any major reason, except that everyone at that time was doing an MBA and the buzz was that if you want a two figure jump in your first salary, you got to have that coveted degree! I caught the admissions entry on the last submission day and that was the only entrance I gave keeping in mind the military background of the institute. My parents anyways could not figure out why I suddenly was keen on an MBA when I just wrapped up some prestigious diplomas for Interiors and Designs!
They say when ‘Good things are meant to happen; the entire universe conspires to make it happen’. Despite the odds, everything fell into place and yours truly landed at Pune station one fine afternoon bang in front of the very enticing Cumsum cafe, parents in tow. (The context here is the old campus where Sri Balaji Society was located during 2003) We checked into the Army mess and went straight to Agrasen Campus, Vishranthwadi which was a make-shift campus of a school in mornings and MBA classes post-noon. Back in those day the beautiful Hinjewadi- campus was only a huge piece of land and not the envious institute, it is now. We used to exploit it fully whenever we needed to have our famous inter-college fests & competitions followed by mass- dancing rituals!
Meeting Ms. Juhi Ranjan was the best thing that could have happened to an overwhelmed student like me with over anxious parents! Her through-knowledge of what to expect and what was in store ahead, made her such a darling with my folks & me. We sat in the well-stocked library while filling the required documents while she bustled around with all other students and parents. I recall the nervous glances of other students at me just as I was looking at them! The apprehensions, the hesitations, the nervous laughter and the smiles...sigh! I recall them all as if it was yesterday! It was basically a total mix-bag of all shapes and sizes and not to forget all walks of life. Who knew then what amazing fun we were headed for ahead! We were ushered into the halls of the famous Ram Society for our orientation which were expertly supervised by the renowned legendary Journalist & Biker Late Mr. Dilip Bam. His artistic expletives-laden lingo ran a shudder down my spine the first time (and each time ahead) he took the stage to address us all. Every thought of his was epitome of realistic experiences which mango-people (Albeit - Aam Aadmi) like me refuse to acknowledge blatantly. And this was a military-rules-infused college?? My brain refused to work beyond! Much later when we all had spent some brain-whacking time in the corporate life the relevance of his words dawned onto us! He had given us a snap-shot into the realistic world by not mincing his words and being to the face. Not like the numerous sugar-coating suckers we were to encounter ahead in life.
The very next day our induction began at Ram Society with presentations that each of us was to showcase basis 20 odd parameters. We were told about a mile-long list of guide-lines and regulations. I would not shy away from admitting that it felt like a disciplinary camp of sorts! From a laid-back college life here suddenly we were to report at 7am for breakfast in crisp and well worn college sarees!! The whole day was spent watching unknown people on the stage, showing us lengthy presentations on topics I would never-want to find out about!! Some were definitely interesting and many hilarious still kudos to all as the efforts were stupendous. We tried to sleep when bored but there were these newly appointed ‘Discipline Committee’ students who took their jobs so seriously that it would put a cop to shame! Some mastered the art of sleeping with eyes wide open and slowly a routine followed.
In hindsight much later, we understood the reason of that simple yet cumbersome exercise and how it geared us for life ahead! Till date I feel that was exactly the onset of my direction, beliefs, perceptions and confidence!! With such a huge number of new students in our early-mid 20’s it would have taken months to break the ice actually. Not to forget the pressure of new place, home sickness for many, new and very strict rules and regulations, pressure of lengthy hours at lectures - anyone would have crumbled under that. Especially since it didn't make sense to most of us back then so as to what was the end purpose of all this. Here is what it did guys!
We made friends with total strangers overnight. Making PPTs, suggesting ideas, pushing each other to excel, laughing & joking over small-dramas that depicted their choice of topics. Life-long friendships were formed in those few days of helping each other and seeking comfort from one another. Meals were eaten together, all cribbing & complaining against the ‘management’ was done in unison and soon there was solid teamwork happening. We saw people who only met 4 days ago, rooting for their new friends when they scored low or cheering the loudest when their pals did well, saving each other seats or sneaking an odd vada-pao for a buddy who got late and missed breakfast! All this happened so suddenly that we didn't even realise it at that time. Long hours of presentations and prep-time together as a group huddled in a tiny cyber-cafe bought us so much closer & united. We learnt to appreciate varied individualities over topics which were well- rounded from all possible angles. This gave our perceptions a new insight altogether. A lot was learnt in those two-weeks and subsequently we moved on to routine semesters but that exercise as per me was my game-changer!
I have been a by-product of convent education mostly, a Delhi girl primarily who was ambitious but at the end of the day considered myself pretty ordinary. Had stayed in hostels before and felt that I had seen most of life already. Still what Sri Balaji Society did to my personality I can never forget! The skills I learnt from being disciplined to being patient, to having my first heart-break to getting elected as the CR for all 3 semesters straight to finally the Students’ Council. I learnt few very important lessons HERE in this college. Realised that in order to be noticed, you had to be different with discipline. Understood that in order to be disciplined one had to master dedication.
Determination was the key to almost everything in life and only those who never gave up - succeeded. I have imbibed by these for so many years and here I am today sharing my story as a happy successful person, though miles to go before I sleep. ????
Post college, my first stint was with media giants like India Today group where I got an amazing opportunity to launch a new interior magazine called - HOMES. I experienced a lot of bullying here as a fresher and the pressure on a young executive like me was immense, but the rock solid training at Sri Balaji Society saw me through all that with elan! I was the highest grosser in my first year of sales & marketing despite of all the extreme odds. My journey ahead saw me with other reputed companies like World Wide Media (A JV between Times of India and BBC WorldWide) to work for launch of another new premier Interior magazine called BBC GOOD HOMES. Post which I worked for a high-end fashion label called L’OFFICIEL from Paris. It was here that I felt the super urge to do something more creative! I had always felt more potential from within and had a lot of confidence in me to try my own business. My call was for wedding planning and decor and armed with whatever experience I had gained I decided to give it my all. I started my own company 11 years back with an investment of meagre Rs. 7000 and absolutely no help from anyone. The point to note is that I had no education or professional training in the field. I had not interned with anyone or learnt the nuances of this trade whatsoever! Google was my best friend as I pushed my grey matter to the top gear in order to setup my business from literally my bedroom! The novel idea of being in India, catering to foreign wedding destination for clients from across the world was unknown and unheard of totally at that time. People dispelled my business module and some even laughed wryly at my naivetés. A lot went in and I worked alone for 8 long years building this company step by step with no office space or staff. I continued to work from home throughout. Today we have not only sustained well but are counted as one of the leading wedding planners in India by grace of God. We have won almost all awards in recent times in our industry and now have expanded to many more destinations. One was few months ago when I won ‘Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2018-19’ by coveted FICCI FLO by none other than Sister Shivani (Brahma-Kumari) amongst thousands of others from UP!
My journey to grow keeps continuing as I strive to do something more with each passing year. In personal life also a lot of difficulties came my way but I think I mastered the art of withstanding the storm well long back in college days. Like anyone else, my life has been riddled with tons of issues and difficulties but when your formative years are spent in a college like Sri Balaji Society, trust me you learn to fight the world. My colleagues would definitely agree that what we learnt in those 2 years has been the very essence of life and how to be unbeatable no matter the situation, difficulty or field. What the Alumni of this college can deal with is unfathomable, to say the least.
I am restless with monotony and keep challenging myself differently to push and motivate myself ahead. Today I am proud to inform my alma matter and alumni community that I have cleared auditions of Haut Monde Mrs. India World Wide 2019 amongst over 15000+ entries from across the world. I will be attending the semi-finals and grand finale in Greece in October 2019. My dream is to be able to reach a position of some repute whereby I can support two causes closest to my heart. One is adoption of a girl child and promoting it in our country actively and second is doing something for divorced/ distressed women in India. These two causes invoke extreme passion from my very being and I am actively working on both of them. You can support me in my pursuits by voting for me on https://www.facebook.com/294980023932526/posts/2285830771514098/
(The voting lines close on 9.Aug.2019)
I have also penned a book called ‘How Much Is Too Much’ which is a self-help narrative & discussion about the latter and state of women in India. The book is in editing stage and would be out soon.
To all those looking for admission at Sri Balaji Society, you can pick your MBA anywhere (in all fairness) however, what you will learn here would be how to survive in the ocean of many others and thrive beautifully, how to fall, rise and shine and how to be an absolutely bull able to withstand any kind of storm and yet be kick-ass! This is where you will learn the essence of life and how to never fail if you put your heart & mind to it. Here is where you will find those precious friends (hopefully) who you will never find ahead in life. This is going to be your that platinum-move that you would cherish your entire existence on mother-earth. In a nut-shell, this is where you will learn the principles of life and business that no family, no friends can ever teach you – ever as this is a platform where you will be exposed to hundreds of your batches sharing the aspirations, ambitions like you and who are from all over India. The exposure and network makes Sri Balaji Society unique.
The current student managers would perhaps agree with all the above already and must be smiling reading all this just as I am in reminiscence of those 2 years. Absorb all this experience well for you would need it all, once you leave the campus and step into the corporate world. Gear up, brace yourself for challenges ahead but don’t you forget to enjoy all this while it lasts. The time will slip by quickly and tomorrow you will miss these days like crazy. Cherish your friends, indulge your learnings and fine-tune your personality.
To my Alumni friends across the globe - I am sure you would agree with me on my feeble-attempt to share my experiences here. Like me, I am confident that you long for the time spent at Sri Balaji Society and hold those memories close to your heart. Do share your experience with others so many more can learn and grow better -just as we did! Also if you haven't yet started living your dreams, take this moment to ponder over the same. If you don’t enjoy your work, think on the lines of what makes you really happy. Plan ahead and then take that plunge you have been wanting to for years. Nothing like one’s passion as the source of livelihood too! By now you would know that life wasn't about what we chased earlier; rather it’s about that inner happiness that we would want to find. Why not begin with what brings that smile to us and have the courage to try to excel in something we are passionate about? Take that risk and you never know what it might do to your life! Don’t forget that like me you are also the Alumni of the Sri Balaji Society Alma Mater (lineage) that instills the goodness of Discipline, Dedication and Determination.
You can visit my work on the social media platform links as below
Much love and light