You know how you always thought that someday you wanted to quit your job your and do something of your own – cook, bake, travel the world or start your own business, but never got around because “what if…”?
In an exclusive project, OfficeChai brings you 11 people yet again who actually did. The fat salary, the cushy secure job, and a stable life couldn’t stop these people from treading a path less traveled- one fraught with risks, uncertainty and financial instability – all to follow their passion. Whether it was to pursue a hobby, giving back to the society or starting a business, they all took the plunge from the corporate, into a life of their own terms. Their stories are illuminating and inspiring. In no particular order or ranking, here are our 11 heroes.
1. She quit her job at Google to Make A Difference to underprivileged children
Gloria Benny, Bangalore. Co-founder at Make-A-Difference.in
Gloria joined Google in its advertising operations immediately after graduation, and lived a comfortable life with the famous Google perks and international trips. In 2006, Gloria and a few friends went to a child shelter in Cochin. This visit gave them an insight into the abysmal education provided to street children and children from orphanages. Seeing the disparity in opportunities and being aware of the value young talented college students could add, they decided to take matters into their own hands. They decided to start MAD to bring together a large group of youngsters and to educate a larger group of children. MAD was born as a part-time venture at first. It was registered in November 2006, and Gloria along with Jithin Chacko quit their jobs to further the cause full time.
Currently 23 chapters strong, MAD teaches across 85 shelter homes with the help of 2,300 teacher volunteers pan-India. They are currently teaching over 4,500 street children with the help of teacher volunteers. “Our big, hairy , audacious goal is to ensure that the 176 million at-risk children in India are documented, and given equitable education and opportunity as adults.” says Gloria.
2. He quit his job to run
Abhishek Mishra, Gurgaon. Runner and founder of Tabono Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd
An engineer with a Masters in Marketing & International Business, Abhishek was employed at GE as an Asst. Manager and project planner and controller. Even though he was performing well at work, he had felt the pangs of uncertainty and dissatisfaction with his job. He realised that sports events and endurance activities were something he enjoyed since his school days.
Even though it was a tough decision to leave a well paying, secure job, Abhishek decided it was passion before profession. He quit the job in 2014 to take up long distance running more seriously. Abhishek is training for Ironman this year and will be participating in Sep 2015 representing India in Mallorca, Spain. The Ironman is one of the most gruelling sports events on earth, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break.
Abhishek has also started a company called Tabono Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd. which focuses on structured health and employee engagement program for corporates.
Is he happy with this decision?
“I am loving it. Even if I had to work for 15 hours sometime I don’t feel tired. I love meeting new people, talking about new ideas, exploring life and knowing more about it.”
3. She quit her law job to act
Shraddha Srinath, Bangalore. Theatre and movie actor
An army child, Shraddha enrolled herself at a law school, and upon graduating decided to specialize in real estate law. She later went on to work in the law Department at Decathlon, Bangalore.
In the meanwhile, Shraddha had been getting active on the theatre scene.
“I had always been passionate about being an actor and when things got going for me in the theatre circuit I realised how acting was that missing piece in my jigsaw puzzle.
But I knew, that if I quit my job for acting on stage, I would struggle a lot because theatre really won’t pay your bills. I knew had to tread very carefully. There is your passion on one hand and money on the other and it’s extremely tricky. So anyway, after having worked for 2 years I had reached a stage where day and night I would ask myself – what are you doing with your life? Who are you out to please? Everyday you spend doing something you don’t enjoy is a day wasted.”
As luck and determination would have it, Shraddha got an offer as female lead and there was no looking back. Today Shraddha is a full time actor, and she’s doing commercials, feature films and is open to offers.
How’s her life changed?
“Well, there’s that dwindling bank balance for starters. But on the upside, today I’m much more relaxed. I’m not part of the crowd that rushes to Whitefield every morning and complains about the Silk Board traffic. I don’t have the responsibility of a laptop on my back. I’m not a corporate slave. I don’t spend my energies on unnecessary worries. I get to spend more time with family, more time on fitness. I do worry about my life, but it only makes me more disciplined and focused, which is great. I’m happy, and I think it shows on my face. I’m an artist and I’m contributing to something that matters to me”
4. He quit IBM & founded Getting You Rich
Rohit Shah, Mumbai. Financial consultant and founder at GettingYouRich
Rohit is a management graduate and SEBI-registered investment adviser. He had worked for 14 years with IBM, Citigroup & Sterlite on Finance, Project Management & Technology assignments, across diverse verticals. However, he was finding it difficult to grow further, with a limited landscape. Being from a business family an entrepreneurial streak was always around the corner.
“I wanted to make a difference in the world of personal finance. Like we need to solve Poverty, Literacy, Malnutrition, Unemployment and Corruption we also need to address Financial Literacy. Personal finance is not difficult but we don’t pay attention. At work, we superbly manage risks, maintain budgets, grow profits and achieve targets but we don’t do the same thing back home, with our money. Friends introduced me to financial planning and I sensed a big potential. This motivated me to quit, even with no prior experience in Marketing”
Today he’s the founder and CEO of Getting You Rich which has helped families across the globe in financial planning.
Has his life changed?
“The outside view of the inside was very rosy. The excel sheet scenarios that I’d built, they only look good on a computer. I learned the hard way that growth is a very fine balancing act. My sense is that I have become patient and started taking a balanced view. Cracking the business model has been the biggest learning. I work much harder & often get challenged but don’t feel stressed. That’s the joy of working for my own”
5. He quit Facebook, California to work in an NGO in India
Sanjay Mucharla, Lucknow. Project coordinator at ProjectKHEL.
If Sanjay’s story doesn’t make you go “Whoa he did what? It’s Facebook and California”, we’d be surprised.
A Stats, Maths and Computer Science major, Sanjay started working at Google as an analyst until Facebook lapped him up in their newly opened Hyderabad office. Soon after, Sanjay moved to the USA to work at Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California, as a Marketing Analyst. His life was as perfect as it gets. A brilliant job in one of the most exciting companies in the world, in picture perfect California, with the love of his life – his wife – with him. But above all the comfort and glory, Sanjay had found a bigger calling.
Sanjay wanted to work on something that was more meaningful to him, and also at the same time had a direct impact on the society. It was then he introspected about the experiences that made him the person he was. “I regularly played volleyball and hockey in school, and also represented the Hyderabad team in Under 19 tournaments. I was in no way the best player, or the best athlete in the teams that I was a part of, but sports have a very special place in my heart. Sports has been the best teacher I’ve ever met. I’ve learnt some of the best life lessons from sports about attitude, team work, and leadership which will stick with me for life”
This introspection led to a conclusion that Sanjay wanted to use the passion he had for sports for a good cause. He came across ProjectKHEL, an NGO that was using sports, games, and other interactive methods to transform the lives of children. Without a second thought, Sanjay bid his coveted job at Facebook goodbye and moved back to India and to Lucknow to join the ProjectKHEL team. ProjectKHEL uses play and interactive methods to transform adolescents into positive agents of change within their communities. One of the main programmes at ProjectKHEL that Sanjay is actively involved is called ‘Made in Maidan’ where sports are used as a medium to impart life skills education to underprivileged children.
“I couldn’t have been happier with where I am right now, working on things I’m passionate about. Personally, although this job is more exhausting than my corporate job, the kind of satisfaction I have been getting is immeasurable. I go to bed with a sense of pride about the work I have done, and also wake up the next morning with double the enthusiasm to do more!
6. She quit her job to write a book
Divya Vinekar, Mumbai. Writer
Back in college, Divya used to write poems and had published a few on Facebook, which garnered praise. Encouraged by her friends, Divya went on to publish them as a book which sold well. In the real world, Divya worked in a digital agency and in social media.
After a few months though, Divya knew that this was not worth the stress and the routine and the job barely left her with any time to focus on her passion. She subsequently decided to quit to focus fulltime on the writing.
Currently Divya is working on her 2nd book, and enjoying watching plays, movies, socialising and garnering inspiration for her next book, which is slated to be published sometime this year.
Today she’s very satisfied with her decision.
“It’s extremely satisfying to focus on what you love doing. No matter how clumsy I am otherwise, my parents love the fact that I am following my passion. To see them happy obviously makes me happy! Don’t wanna completely deny that I do miss the mad rush of local trains and making it to work on time but I’m in a happier place now.”
7. He quit a series of jobs to live a life of no possessions, travel and discovery
Srikrishna Das, Hyderabad. Youtuber and Indie Games Developer at Toonheart
Krish is an engineer in not one but 3 fields – Electronics, Telecommunications and Computer Science. He started working when he was 17, and spent 8 years of his life in IT in various roles like System Administrator, DevOps, Hacker and Independent Consultant. So what made him quit? Did he hate his desk job or did he lack freedom? Krish loved his job and had all the freedom he wanted, but felt that fulfilling his materialistic needs left a void deep down.
“So what if you die tomorrow? What did you die as? An IT guy? That’s it? You couldn’t do anything else? You wanted to make video games. Why didn’t you? You wanted to ride your motorcycle around the world. Why didn’t you?.
“It brought me to a realization that I am scared of monotonous life!“
So for the last 2.5 years, he has been splitting his time making Video Games, riding his motorcycle across India and other countries (~22,000 kms and counting), Backpacking different countries, making videos on Youtube with camera attached to his helmet when he tours (he is India’s first Motovlogger), co-Founding multiple startups like SuperMoto360 (which is a tech driven Motorcycle workshop), and another food-centric social platform he is yet to announce, making friends around the world, and living his share of crazy experiences (one of them is, being the First person in the World to fly in an airlines standing).
“I like this simple life with good experiences and karma.I am thankful for everything life has given me, and it further humbles me when I meet awesome people around the world and see that they exceed my craziness in many ways.”
8. She quit a comfortable finance career to start an online startup
Khushboo Agarwal, Bangalore. Founder at Taxiclues.com
A CA by qualification with over 5 years of experience in valuations, investment banking and private equity, Khushboo had worked across multiple organizations and till recently was working with a startup PE fund in Bangalore as a financial analyst.
However giving her secure and lucrative finance career a miss, Khushboo started an online taxi fare comparer and aggregator startup called Taxiclues.
“I always wanted to start something that will help society. Having worked in different cities, I also have noticed the challenges people face in their day to day commute and the focus on the best value, being in India. And with Taxiclues, I could see a lot of scope and opportunity to help these office going women without worrying about their travel hassles. This was time to disrupt the market and here I am, doing exactly that”
How does she find the journey from an established financial analyst to a founder and CEO of a promising startup?
“As an entrepreneur, life has changed a lot. Now, it’s not about your days that counts but the seconds does. As a start-up you need to work at supreme pace, evolve as the need be and be dynamic with the idea as well as the operational requirements. Now, With the launch of Taxiclues in 8 major cities and many more in the pipeline, it’s a new beginning every day and I am loving it.”
9. She quit an advertising career for volunteering in community and environmental causes
Priti Bhosale, Mumbai. Volunteer at GreenSouls and independent contributor.
Priti had a Bachelors in Media and Marketing and worked a job as a copywriter. However, nature had always been a big part of her life. Her backyard was bigger than her room, and all along, she’d harboured a latent interest in wildlife photography.
During her last job as a content writer in Mumbai, she happened to meet GreenSouls – a small group experimenting with organic farming in cramped urban spaces, and realized it was something that spoke to her. She quit her job and started volunteering for animal and environmental initiatives. Meeting GreenSouls again, she started to visit and volunteer at their farms often.
Today, the group has four farms in the city that feed destitute children who are also cancer patients. They also run children’s remand home, women’s shelter and a boys shelter.
“My mom still asks me “when people ask me ‘what does your daughter do?’ what should I tell them?” and by people she means relatives and families of potential suitors. I just roll my eyes and move on. I want to tell all those people, “no, I don’t earn money; I don’t have a desk job. Yes I am very much qualified and so are you. But do you know where your food comes from? Do you know thousands of people die of starvation for no reason? Do you know thousands more eat a lot but still die of malnutrition, obesity or cancer? Sometimes I feel like Calvin in his backyard with Hobbes chasing bugs, sometimes like a great scientist and sometimes just so small and unimportant before nature. When I’m on the farm, I’m not just at work, I’m in school, at a party and at work! I have never loved my life more than now. I am not a wildlife photographer even today, but am close to nature and nurturing it, which is equally great.”
10. She quit her Finance Professor job to teach Cow Economics
Shivali Miglani, Bangalore. Founder at Desi Cows For Better India
Shivali Miglani graduated from the London School of Economics in 2009 and worked as an Assistant Professor in Finance till 2014. Shivali’s desire to reach out and do more started during the General Elections, whe she realised that most of the students in her class didn’t care to vote. She started her social initiative, Voteworks, which in 2 months helped register more than 20,000 people to vote.
“With this I realised that if one does more than for self, the returns are actually manifold in different forms. I decided to quit and do something more real.
Shivali today runs an NGO – Desi Cows For Better India – which aims to H.E.A.L or look at Health, Environment, Agricultural and Legal aspects of the Holy Cow. “Conserving the endangered native breeds of cows is important for better public health through A2 milk, for countering climate change and to grow organic food. Only farmers can conserve the cows – hence they must be empowered economically“. The NGO has conducted several Panchagavya health camps in rural areas, trained hundreds of farmers on native breed improvement, natural farming and making cow-based FMCG products.
“It’s not been easy since I am not very fluent in Kannada but thanks to my team and driven volunteers, we are able to make a difference. It’s been a huge learning experience for me as I can now converse with a farmer, a doctor and an environmentalist. It was difficult to explain to people what I was doing but that never tempted me to go back to my job. I thoroughly enjoy what I do.”
“Teaching MBA students is not as exciting as training farmers!“, she laughs.
11. They quit Google & Times of India respectively for travel, writing, photography and freedom
Lovell Dsouza and Priya Ramachandran, Goa – Photographer and writer respectively at happyfeet.us
Lovell worked as an Internal Tools Developer & Search Quality Strategist at Google during his 6-year stint in the company. Priya, a Mass Communications, Literature and Political Science graduate, went on to work as a Chief Sub Editor for Deccan Chronicle, while also completing her masters. On a whim, Priya quit her job and went on a 50 day trip to Europe with her friend, reinstating her love for travel, writing and a carefree life. She came back and joined Times of India as a Chief Copy Editor.
Meanwhile Lovell, a true-blue Goan, desired the charms of a quieter small town life, having tired soon of the traffic, pollution and the chaos of the big city.
Both Lovell and Priya quit their respective jobs in 2013, for common loves of wanderlust and a simpler life, and common grouses like the monotony of a routine, a cubicle existence, chaotic city lives. They decided to move to Goa.
While Lovell who’d already established himself as a photographer during his job does wedding photography and provides web-development and SEO solutions, Priya collaborates with advertising agencies and website developers to generate creative content for everything from social media and websites to blogs for business. She writes about their life, travels and other musings on their travel website and he captures these moments in images. She occasionally writes for publications and pens short stories. Together, they backpack across the country on local trains and buses, or explore their beautiful neighbourhood and chase sunsets in Old Goa, where they work out of home. They both agree on one thing – that life has changed, tremendously and for the better.
To quote Priya, “Time is a most wonderfully deceptive concept. When you are stuck in a cubicle or are institutionalized in a trap of your own making, time screams for attention and draws you into the idea that its existence defines yours. All our days are almost always divided into neat bits, separated by deadlines, lunch hours, tea breaks, meetings or rush hours on the road. But after we both quit our jobs, time became this expansive, broad abstraction of an idea that no longer reigned over our life. We have no wall clocks nor do we care about what time has to say or what it expects us to be doing. Our biological clocks sing their own tunes and we work when we want to and take it easy when we want to.”
Previously in the series.