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‘Work culture in Dubai is different from India; people here prefer to only talk over the phone’

An alumni of Apeejay College of Fine Arts in Jalandhar, this businessman says that his college days helped him face the challenges that came his way



He was born and brought up in Jalandhar and after completing his schooling at Dayanand Model School. The next obvious step was to take admission at Apeejay College of Fine Arts (ACFA) since the crème de la crème of the society studied there. Together with his five friends from school, they joined ACFA to pursue B Com (Regular).

He got admission easily since his Class XII score was high and while the counsellor, back in 2003, advised him to take up B Com (Professional), Abhishek Mahajan was more interested in taking up B Com (Regular). Not only was he part of the management committee for student welfare, but he was also in charge of campus discipline. He was appointed general manager of campus beautification too.

In an interview, he talks about the importance of discipline and how he ended up owning his business as an immigration consultant.

Excerpts from an interview:

How important is it to inculcate discipline among students?

I would say it is extremely important for each one of us to be disciplined. It plays an important role in shaping good habits. The lessons that I learnt there have been carried forward in my professional life and I follow them even today. Having seniors on the discipline committee goes a long way in ensuring that juniors follow suit. We knew how to discipline them and ensure that they didn’t bunk their classes. Being part of this committee meant that we could never be naughty but it didn’t mean we didn’t have fun in college.

“The lessons that I learnt from Apeejay have been carried forward in my professional life. Having seniors on the discipline committee goes a long way in ensuring that juniors follow suit”

Abhishek Mahajan, Immigration Consultant, Dubai

Can you share some anecdotes from your college days?

I took part in youth festivals. I used to travel all over the place to participate in the cultural activities that used to be organised in regional colleges or even travel to Amritsar. Unfortunately, my friends were not part of it, I didn’t pursue it after my first year. But I lent support whenever I was asked to step in.

How did you end up as a consultant with immigration?

After I completed my graduation, I got a campus placement with HDFC bank. I had the option of working in retail or banking. I chose banking since it was a booming sector. Having worked for some time I decided to pursue higher studies and went to the UK to do my MBA. My experience with the formalities – visa, fees, and other formalities made me realise that setting up a business in this sector would benefit me. So I worked as an immigration consultant in Dubai for six-seven years. Once I had gained sufficient experience I opened my consultancy in Dubai and have been running it successfully for the last three-and-a-half years now. I now have offices in Abu Dhabi, India (Amritsar and Jalandhar), two branches in Europe – the Czech Republic and Poland, and one office in Canada.

How has the journey been – from Jalandhar to Dubai to Canada – the global exposure?

It was very tough during the initial days while I was studying. I was only 24 and married. I even had to wait tables in the first few months. But ACFA had given me a lot of exposure – I was culturally active and the college toughened me up. Among my friends, I was the only one who came from service class. I knew that if I wanted to become a businessman, I would have to work hard.

What does an immigration consultant do?

To understand my line of work, one has to first understand that there is a difference between an agent and a consultant. An agent will take your case and hand it over to someone else and charge a commission. My work, on the other hand, is very detailed. A consultant needs a few licenses before he can offer his services. We offer services for permanent residents, student visas, work permits, and family class cases to name a few.

What insight would you give to students who want to pursue a career in this sector?

Since the person in a service-oriented set-up always gives the best possible to the client who comes to you. Let the client not chase you. You must be the one giving him the information and where his case is. Be honest in your dealings and stay transparent. If you think that his case is weak let him know from the very beginning. Don’t do anything unethical.

How is the work culture different – in India, Canada, Dubai, and Europe?

There is a vast difference. In Canada, if you need to meet a person you have to make an appointment via email; they won’t entertain you otherwise. In Europe, it has to be a call. But no personal interaction. The same is true for the UAE. People are busy here. Everything has to be done over the phone. In India, people like to visit the office. Even the staff and attitudes are very different since they are governed by different labour laws.

What advice would you give to the present Apeejayites?

The word Apeejay in itself is an inspiration for every student. The educational institute has so much to offer to the students; it grooms you to face any challenge that you may face ahead in life. The teachers/faculty are protective. Students must take advantage of their experience and expertise. Finish your programme, and take advantage of the campus placement and counseling available. I was able to set up my business due to the guidance I got from my counsellor.

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.

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