From Nowhere To Somewhere – Dewansh Zanwar – Best50 – Class Of 2017

There is a Marathi movie ‘Deol’ in which a wise man tells the lead actor, “velechya patavar tu ani me thipka aahe” which means ‘you and I are just a dot on this vast timeline’. Remembering that I don’t want to be just another dot is what keeps me going.

Being from a small place and having none of the parents having education more than 12th little I knew of what to do. It would change every time I thought someone was making some change in this society – a teacher, a businessman, and so on. Finally, I settled on engineering when my uncle told me about it and I thought I will invent something someday. (Never did I know what it would be) My efforts took me to one of the best NITs of this country – VNIT, Nagpur. But little I knew how to make progress towards what I wish for, other than just to pass every year. That’s all I had ever learned in my village school. So I never went into some extra curriculars initially. (And by the time I realised it it was too late) But I was mostly active in my social club – Prayaas in first two years. Also worked on a metallurgical research paper.

It was the internship during engineering which was one important phase for me. Even after putting four times the effort of fellow interns and completing 5 projects against 1 expected project, somehow my mentor used to find ways to grill on something other than projects. It somehow made me think of taking up more than usual tasks to work on. After coming to college, I tried to do things which I previously did not. I myself took responsibility of Senior prefect, which meant handling almost everything of a 500 seater first-year hostel.

Job interviews always stressed me and that’s why even after scoring in the top for almost every company in tests, I struggled a lot in campus placements of under-graduation because of communication skills. But in the company, I wanted to do much better in this new inning. So I always chose roles which other peoples were rejecting as they were too challenging. In my first year, I was supposed to work on 3  projects. I worked on inventory restructuring and store layout designing. Implementing it, given a resistance of people who were there with that system for 20 years got me the attention of senior management and they made me plant level TPM champion. (which is generally done by 15-20 year senior people) In parallel, I even worked on projects – a quality problem that was persistent for 9 years and an ERP system that was out of shape. In the second year of my job, I was given supply chain account of the most important customer for the company.

Amidst all those projects, I was getting a satisfaction of improving things around, but then I always wanted something more. I aspired for more power to work on some good ideas. So when one of my colleagues went to join CAT classes, I also went with her thinking that I will join English speaking classes there. However, in coaching, I thought let’s just try CAT, as my English will improve in those efforts parallelly. (When asked in my undergrad by a friend, I had told him CAT is not my thing – English and Maths both being my enemy.) In coaching, I was consistent in my study no matter what issues I was facing. In my initial tests, the best rank that I secured was 58 out of 200 odd students. But then making steady progress I made it to top 10. Just before CAT, I had to go to Rohtak at supplier’s end for two months and I could not study well. By that time even my other batchmates had lost hope and only two of us were left in class, Somehow I continued my studies and in my final mock, I made it to 4th position, which gave me some courage. Finally in CAT I got to taste the fruit of my success.

 

Clearing CAT didn’t clear everything for me, though. In one of my ‘important’ interview, all I did was sit for 10 minutes and listen to panel making fun of me, saying,”He is from Village. These people have a small radius of thinking…. he won’t be able to compete with rest of talented people from good background….” I am glad I was able to make it to a good school and then make most out of it.

 

As I joined IIM, I was much more informed this time. I knew why I was at this place. I knew the value of education, various things that are there to learn with it. Again I was not at the normal pace of an IIM student, but I knew I can’t keep making excuses for it. So not only I had to cover the gap between me and fellow students but also try to excel in important things. Some people who knew my engagement with my struggle became my best friends, but at the same time I lost many as they thought I was not ‘engaging’ with them in important parties.

 

I had heard somewhere about T-method of development and I have tried to develop myself in T-way. Where in right now I have tried to work on the horizontal part of trying to achieve a bit in all the possible areas, from taking responsibilities in college (An elected student council member in IIM ), working on live business challenges (A campus finalist or more in 5 major events like – Mahindra war room winner, ABG Avant Grade, RBG Blizzard, Novartis Unleash, UP Tourism Travel Trails,  etc. and completed 7 live projects) and having an initiative in terms of a founding a start-up (fashion rental startup) while not forgetting to work towards creating a better society(taking forward IIM Lucknow’s Manjunath Shanmugham in spreading the good values through various events).

 

As a person I try to optimise myself – I do try to devote my time to me and to my interests, at the same time not forgetting to be amongst people. I try to not loosen up on academics, at the same time not becoming too geeky and forget fun factor.

I like to take photos and store them because I think photos talk a lot which people otherwise don’t. In particular, I like to take pictures of birds. I am also an official member of photography club Right Angles at IIM Lucknow.

During my MBA internship, I was able to work on a product – recycled polyester, which affects lower strata of society in sourcing as well as-as a final product in a big way. All thanks to Reliance for they gave me Marketing profile even though I was stereotyped as Operations guy because of having two years work experience. It was a first ever attempt of Reliance at B2C branding of a B2B product and they gave me complete responsibility as a one man team of strategizing branding strategy of the product. That experience gave me a sense of confidence, I realised I am on a path where someday I will touch lives of many in a positive way. The story of the struggle of Jack Ma inspires me and I would also like to have at least some percentage of impact what he has created.

What is your x-factor?

I come from a humble background, like in our school we didn’t even have cement structure for classroom and toilets in school. Witnessing these issues in younger age gave me strength to sustain in every situation. My X-factor is my ability to accept my weakness and putting consistent effort till I overcome it.

How would you explain the “The Credit Crisis of 2008” to a 12-year-old?

You can cover some distance by walking but just to cover some extra distance if you start running without considering externalities just by trusting someone who says that the road is safe, you may tend to meet an accident. That’s what happened in 2008 crisis. In an attempt to expand their business and earn more, the banks took much more risk by loosening on their criteria to approve a loan. They were supported by investors who took risk of taking risk of supporting a loan that was already risky in itself.

India does not have 1 hospital bed per 1000 persons. It is much below WHO’s average of 5. If you were the prime minister of the country, how would you solve this problem?

If I were the prime minister of the country, I would ask the medical companies to design a medical kit which can be placed inside a van. This kit will contain all the necessary equipment which are required in most of the cases in a hospital setting. If the condition of the patient is such that he can be treated at his/ her home, then the kit will be taken and a nominal rent will be charged.

(I will resume writing my blog at www.dewansh.in from February 1st, 2017. If you like this story, I would be happy to write more stories for you there 🙂 )  

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