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‘Apeejay gave us a holistic environment to learn and evolve’

Deepankar Khare, an alumnus of Apeejay School of Management (ASM), says an MBA degree gave him a platform to showcase his skills as well as enhance them

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“Take life as it comes, but don’t let it go as it goes, in fact, make your own way,” says Deepankar Khare, Consultant at the Office of the Hon’ble Minister of Commerce & Industry, CA&FPD and Textiles at Government of India. The ASM alumnus wears many hats. His areas of expertise include Government Relations, Policy Advocacy, Business Development, Campaign and Brand Strategist as well as Marketing and Communications. Before taking up this new role in November 2021, Deepankar has worked in leading industry associations like ASSOCHAM and PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

In a telephonic interaction with him, he shares his magnificent experience of working with the Government, his memories from ASM days and the importance of striking work-life balance.

You have been working with various ministries and government organisations in different capacities, tell us about your experience? 

The experience is quite dynamic – full of ups and downs. Working in the government space is  different from being a part of the corporate world. And I have been a part of both. I have worked with organisations that were more than 100 years old. I have also been a part of a startup which was established in 2016. So, it has been a journey with diversified experience. There has been lots of learning while executing my responsibilities in different capacities. In fact, I would say making mistakes is normal. It’s because if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn new things. 

Besides, confidence matters, and it only comes when you are well aware of the things happening around you. You need to have in-depth knowledge about different topics to strike an effective communication with people you are meeting everyday. 

When I led a delegation of Indian Agri and Food Exporters to countries like Kazkahstan, Iran and Iraq, I realised cross-border international relations are effective only when you are well aware of the global space. You can only talk to them when you know what’s going on in their country and the relation between India and other countries. So, it’s imperative to learn and learn while you are on the job. You need to take some time out and improve wherever you are lacking to give your best. Well, it’s important to go out of your comfort zone. 

Share your thoughts on your journey and multi-faceted career?    

From working in one of the oldest associations in India to being a part of a homegrown startup, AgriBazaar, homegrown to now working in the government space, well – it’s been an enriching experience. I have learned a lot from people I have met throughout this journey in the corporate as well as government space. I also got a letter of appreciation and recommendation from the Consul General of India at Erbil, Kurdistan Region (Iraq) for leading the Indian delegation to the country. Certainly, my mentors have played a huge role in my life. They motivate me to do much better. One among them is Dr. Ashok Dalwai, Chairman of the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income.  

I believe that we, youths, have a lot of potential. We are like those battery electric buses that are ready to move. We just need direction. And that direction comes from people, who are already established in their respective domains. They guide the route for us. I definitely believe that it’s important to have a mix of young and experienced stakeholders in the industry and government.  

Tell us factors that have influenced your learning and professional growth? 

ASSOCHAM was my first job. When I joined the organisation, at that time too, people I met taught me many things. They helped me build my confidence. My bosses relied on me and gave me responsibilities. I used to be nervous, but excited at the same time. (Laughs). I was given projects to organise various outreach campaigns in different locations such as Udaipur, Srinagar, Dharamshala in collaboration with different stakeholders like the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India, etc. And I could do them all because I believed in myself. Also, the blessings of the Almighty always guide you through the path. I would say today the table has turned for me. Moreover, I also believe in taking out time for myself and understanding what I wish to do every day. I also invest 15-20 minutes every day in doing meditation that helps me keep sane.

Did you always plan to build a career in the government space?

Well, this was unexpected! When I was giving my 10th Boards, I had plans to take up Science. A conventional mindset that boys learn Science and I was chasing that. But I did not score well enough to get Science. So, I had to take up Commerce in my 10+2. I started liking the subject following which I took up B.Com (Hons). After that, I went for my MBA. 

MBA built my confidence and gave me a platform to showcase my skills as well as enhance them. After MBA, I got a chance to work in a corporate company in Pune, which I didn’t join. I had applied to ASSOCHAM and I got that. And that’s how it worked. Today, I feel proud to work for my country and that’s motivating for me.

Three key qualities of a successful leader

  • Effective communication
  • Empathy
  • Having the appetite to take risk

Please share with us some of your fond memories from the ASM days? 

Apeejay is such a beautiful time of my life. Since the day I joined ASM to pursue my MBA programme, it was a step up for me. I knew that the next destination was the job market. And we were being prepared for the corporate world. ASM has a massive library, in fact, there were two of them. I liked to spend most of my time in the library during my free hours. Plus, there used to be a lot of guest lectures and interactive sessions conducted by experts from the industry, giving us the real flavour of the corporate world. There used to be a lot of debate competitions that helped us in building our personality and taught us to work in teams and individually. Even during our times at ASM, we had a number of online and offline learning modules. Moreover, not just placements, we received great internship opportunities from Apeejay. Fest is something I miss a lot. Apeejay gave us a holistic environment to learn and evolve. 

What role did the teachers play in your life at ASM?

We had a great set of faculty and I am still in touch with almost everyone. They are great mentors even today. Whenever we used to be stressed out, let’s say during placements, they stood by us. They always motivated us to do better. They helped us reach an extra mile. Mentored us and guided us to reach out to the industry for internships..Even today, they share job opportunities on WhatsApp groups for students and alumni. I am glad I am still in touch with all of them.

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.

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