A leap of faith: How I transitioned from corporate to entrepreneurship

I would sum my life as a roller coaster ride; fast paced, sometimes upside down, but lots of fun. I was born and brought up in a small town in India with the de facto Indian career norms to be a doctor or an engineer. Instead of being discouraged by that orthodox populus around me, it served as a massive motivation. I relentlessly aimed at being an achiever and make a difference to the society while being on that mission. Failing the attempt to become a doctor (fortunately!), I compromised and choose Biotechnology for my undergrad (and later my postgrad). I did fair well during my studies and realised one can ace the exams while being a backbencher. Although the grades mattered, getting them while not having fun was a big no-no!

Fabindia was the first corporate venture. I worked there as a merchandiser for almost two years, patiently absorbing the new phase of life. A merchandisers role is to manage product categories and SKUs. Merchandisers lead product curation, development, sourcing, distribution and management. If a shelf on the store is empty, a merchandiser somewhere is wasting company money. There were many lessons to be learnt here. Effective listening is perhaps the most difficult thing, simultaneous processing, being on my toes was the job description. This position helped me understand how a well cultured FMCG MNC operates. Processes are the key, the air, the absolute everything. This experience had the first massive impact on my life, I was a contributing part of the food chain. This role requires one to be very sharp and process oriented, one needs to have sharp organizational skills. The mantra is that we forget things, write.it.down. This skill helped me a ton in the times to come, It helps you – relatively easily – climb the corporate ladder.

Two years later I landed my dream job, Agricultural assistant in Embassy of Chile. To be a member of the diplomatic mission was something I was always aimed for. Working closely with decision makers, working with government officials of both the nations, provided an added motivation apart from the redundant (yet important) concept of pay. This was the place that made me who I am today, a confident individual who can take ownership and handle management decisions. It’s not uncommon, but rare to find a mentor in your boss, but I was lucky to find one, Mr. Jaime Gonzalez. Over the years I developed a plethora of skills – marketing, social media strategy, planning and strategy, negotiations and more. The key lesson I took away from this role was importance of relations and patience. I ended up working with multiple products, importers, exporters, government research agencies and a great team! The journey, unfortunately, came to an end when I decided to move to Singapore.

Today, after years of practical exposure in the industry and ministry, I – alongside my life partner Abhinit – am building our own start-up – Deepdive SG (deepdive.sg), an AI powered – IoT compatible – ecosystem for creating predictive tools for marketing. We aim to develop an autonomous, self-learning platform for marketers, a much required secondary brain if you may. It’s a tough journey and a big dream, but we will get there. The key to be successful is not just education, it is the perspective with which you go ahead. One always need to be focused and driven. Although I am long way from home, I feel the road ahead will be super exciting and with promise of a new and bigger purpose. Embracing failures and keep moving is the key to success.

It’s never too late to learn or to start over, it’s all about the dream!

Name: Naina Mahajan

Current position: Chief Marketing officer and Co-founder, Deepdive SG

Skills: Marketing, growth

leadership Motto: Never give up!

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