In Akshay’s own words
Growing up in a hard core army family in different and diverse parts of India… I always thought that I would end up joining the forces. But when I moved to Pune in class 11th, I realized that maybe I should reconsider my aspirations. After 3 amazing and enjoyable years of B'Com at Ness Wadia College of Commerce, on one hand I had my joining instructions for the Indian Military Academy, and on the other was a road leading to BIMM (then IIMM) a lesser known new institute located in a school campus and a career full of uncertainties. Although highly nervous, one decided to take the plunge into the uncertain future with honestly no clue of what I wanted to do. Maybe, I chickened out of the hardcore army training or maybe I was not as strong as the men who defend our borders.
Then started a phase of classes 7 days a week where missing a class was asking for trouble. Teachers asking to read Economic times and Philip Kotler was your new companion. From going to airports to meet random executives and introducing our college, so that maybe they'll come for hiring ..to participating and winning inter B- school competitions, the 2 years undoubtedly prepared us for our life ahead. Just when we thought we were had it all planned 9/11 happened, creating one of most tough conditions to get recruited.
I joined Canon India in Pune from campus in Document management Solutions Sales. All my dreams of sitting in an A/C MNC office were crushed, when I used to be on my Yamaha RX100 mobike going to office to office hoping to crack a deal. This taught me the very basics of how sales are done and luckily I managed to crack some big corporate accounts for them and closed some of the biggest deals in the country for them. After 2 years of being at Canon in Pune, where I was making tons of money and considering I was living with my parents, I realised I was getting into a comfort zone. It was then that I decided to move on and came across two opportunities, one with Citigroup in Pune and other with Standard Chartered Bank in Mumbai and I chose to go with the latter.
My move to Mumbai was not easy, as it was a new city, new profession and lots of learning involved. But that's where I really felt that 'problems are indeed opportunities', as I finally felt that Banking is what I connected with. I broke into one of Citigroup India's biggest relationship and moved it over to Standard Chartered. It was this one big breakthrough, which landed me being invited by Citigroup's then country Head for a meeting, and there I met Citigroup's Global wealth Management head, he asked me to join Citi in Singapore and grow their Asian Markets.
Moving to Singapore in end 2004 and joining Citi was one of biggest turning points in my career, as I enjoyed every moment of being there. From being put on Citi's fast track recognition program and being a member of the Global Chairman's council to traveling the world, life was good for bachelor me.
In December 2006, Lady Luck came my way as I got married and simultaneously I was asked by Merrill Lynch to run their Southeast Asia business. I still remember the day I became Vice- President, I was remembering respected Prof. Moodliar from IIMM, as one day in our class he asked me where do you see yourself in 5 years? I in all my immaturity said: I will be a VP in a MNC and he said if you can dream it you can surely do it !!
Merrill Lynch was a hard-core Wall Street Investment bank and the sheer fact of working over weekends, at times reminded me of our days at IIMM. Just when I was settling into my new assignment at Merrill, the world was hit by the worst ever Financial crisis and Merrill was acquired by Bank of America. It was a start from ground zero again, as a new management came in and they had their own style of doing things. However, one decided to keep my focus on one’s work and be at it. In a matter of time, all the effort and hard work resulted in Bank of America sending me to 'The Wharton School' for a specialized program in Finance and me being tipped as one of the youngest Managing Directors in Financial Markets.
But honestly, whether it's a high flying work title, fancy cars or big bonuses... none of these highs can be compared to the high of being a father to the two most adorable boys that I am blessed with. The moment of cheering your son during a game and he being happy with the fact, that dad is there for his game is incomparable. As eventually it all comes down to the relationships that you have built over the years be it be friends, family or colleagues.
So from my experiences, all I can say is that work hard, stay focused on experiences/learning and success will follow. Take holidays to travel and enjoy every moment. Make mistakes, fall in love as every relationship contributes in being who you finally are and stop worrying about the future and enjoy the present. Life is short!!!
Most importantly the day you feel you are in your comfort zone... It's time to get out of it!!
All the best !!! Stay healthy ... Stay blessed...!!