Wednesday, March 2, 2016

An Old Dream Finally Being Realised

I remember back in 2009. I was still living in New York and volunteering as a coach in Landmark's Self Expression & Leadership program. Everyone in that program, including the coaches, had to design and execute a community service project. My project design involved helping Indian youth living in New York City identify their dream jobs and then setting up pathways and mentors intended to support their journeys towards there chosen professions.  I was able to confirm a few Indian community groups in Queens who invited me to work with their kids and even found a few willing mentors, but never got around to actually executing the project.

Fast forward 7 years and now I'm standing in front of a classroom of 50 MBA students at Nirma University in Ahmedabad engaged in a straight conversation with them about having the courage and conviction to go after their "dream jobs." I put everything I had into that speech as deep down inside I feel that Indian families, society and the education system have prevented youth from dreaming big when it came to their professional careers.  Somewhere along their journeys "dream big" meant finding a job which offers security or finding a job that will gain the approval of their future in-laws or gossipy Auntys at the Kitty party.  What "dream big" stopped meaning was that you should explore what you love doing the most and find a job in that field.

I've visited Nirma University a few times in the past and always appreciated the campus and the people running the Institute of Management.  They were the first to admit they shouldn't just sit back and smile knowing that most of their graduates got placed in jobs with Citibank or Infoysys as no one has any idea about how long they eventually stay at those jobs or, more importantly, if there graduates are even happy.  On this same thought process, they were open to the idea of launching a Sports Management elective and requested my good friend and current FC Goa CEO Sukhvinder Singh to teach the course. He invited me to join him for one of the sports management weekends in Ahmedabad to deliver 2 guest lecture sessions, 1 on Sports Careers and 1 on the Indian football industry.

It felt like a dream come true.  Having the opportunity to share my story of going from a shy boy growing up in white suburban Orange County to standing in front of a room of MBA students in Gujarat (my parents childhood state) after 13 incredible years working across 3 different contingents in the field of my dreams: football.  

Back when I started this mission in 2009 I had no idea that the eventual next step would happen 7 years later in India but better late than never.  Also, I've realised that I'm actually in a more mature place to be advising youth on ways they can approach their professional careers to achieve happiness, growth and impact. Especially since my own courage and conviction to "make it" in football has led to rich experiences in both the US and now again in India.

I really hope that it doesn't take another 7 years for my next step in this area as I truly relished the opportunity to support Indian youth with identifying, believing in and taking the first steps towards their dream jobs.

This image has nothing to do with Nirma University or my lecture. It's a picture of what I woke up to every morning I was in Ahmedabad while staying at the majestic SGVP International school - one of my many homes in this wonderful country

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