SYNOPSIS The author shares the story of his uprising from deprivation to a successful professional. Born in a large family in India, he faced insurmountable odds on completing his education. Driven by dignity of labour, he did not shy working on any job. It was owing to his grit, unflinching determination, and impregnable passion that he could pursue his targets. This book maps the arduous journey that the author undertook in his professional career. As a young man he had to climb many steep hills without the oxygen of outside help. Since he was not going to be content with anything but the best to realise his dreams, he went through a tortuous number of hoops. However, his focus always remained on achieving the best he could in his career. He did not give in when encountering impossible situations or when failure was staring in his face. His resolve, tenacity, resilience and unflinching determination helped him to overcome everything that life could throw at him.His determination to pursue his dreams manifested in the diverse strategies that he adopted to combat the toxic impact of failure. His subject knowledge and expertise in his chosen field, his phenomenal appetite for new technologies, his refusal to allow any adversity to damage his self-belief, his impeccable professionalism – it all contributed to his success. He did not flinch when the chips were down, he did not let despair impair his judgement, and the clarity of his vision when undertaking new projects served him well in his career progression.The book is full of numerous learning points for any person who is embarking on their journey to make their professional life a little bit more than merely satisfactory. There are nuggets of wisdom in every anecdote that the Author narrates. Even when he hits an impasse, he offers insights to enable improvement in the future. There is a repertoire of wisdom based on experience over decades that young professionals could glean from reading this book. What is being offered is practical, germane and relevant for a wide range of professions.This book provides a wide variety of life's lessons for every individual… more like unraveling the secret to the way life works. The more time readers will spend with this book, the more they will like it and learn from it. Although this is a book about the life of a finance professional, it contains much that will be of interest to even people outside this field. This book is as much an autobiography as it is a valuable window to the journey called life.The Author believes that the book shall appeal to a wide spectrum of professionals and entrepreneurs: Chartered Accountants, Engineers, Architects and Marketing Executives to name a few. It shall be a guiding star for those who enter their professional career or enterprise and those who struggle in their profession or enterprise.
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THE DYNAMICS OF PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
Strategies and skills to unlock your potential in your professional career
BHUSHAN CHOPRA FCA
Life, they say, is the best and the toughest teacher you can ever get. It’s always wise to learn from your own experiences, but it’s far more efficient to learn from someone else’s experiences. And Kul Bhushan’s life is a series of experiences that will surely help every individual develop character.
My first meeting with Kul Bhushan was in the early-Eighties at the Punjab Anand Batteries Ltd office in Mohali. And that was the beginning of a deeply valued friendship. “If you ever have to choose between ‘being trusted’ and ‘being loved’; choose the former. Being trustworthy will be the only quality people will remember you for even when you are no longer working with them,” he had told me.
Those words stayed with me and their true depth dawned on me when I started meeting common acquaintances at Punjab Anand Batteries. Every single individual I met only had good words to describe Kul Bhushan. While he went on to pursue his career goals, we did keep in touch but our meetings were few and far between. Decades later, we again met as professionals when Kul Bhushan assisted us in establishing Dabur’s Jammu unit. What really struck me was that the age lines on his face and streaks of grey in his hair apart, Kul Bhushan hadn’t changed as an individual. His life and experiences, I had always felt, would serve as a guiding beacon for many youngsters starting off on their professional journey.
This book provides a wide variety of life’s lessons for every individual… more like unraveling the secret to the way life works. As I read through this book, I learnt another facet of Kul Bhushan… about the formidable journey in his professional life, a journey that took him through the peaks and troughs. His domain knowledge, the willingness to learn new things, the courage to take on new challenges and his ‘Never Say Die’ attitude stand out as his strengths that have helped him face all adversities that life threw at him.
The more time readers will spend with this book, the more they will like it and learn from it. Although this is a book about the life of a finance professional, it contains much that will be of interest to even people outside this field. This book is as much an autobiography as it is a valuable window to the journey called life.
As this book takes readers through Kul Bhushan's personal and professional experiences, they will surely reminiscence on the challenges they have faced. What we need is to nurture the art of individual productivity to overcome every hurdle and setback… and keep marching forward.
By Mr. P. D. Narang
Dabur India Ltd.
This book maps the arduous journey that Bhushan undertook in his professional career. As a young professional, he had to climb many steep hills without the oxygen of outside help. Since he was not going to be content with anything but the best to realise his dreams, he went through a tortuous number of hoops. However, his focus always remained on achieving the best he could in his career. He did not give in when encountering impossible situations or when failure was staring in his face. His resolve, tenacity, resilience and unflinching determination helped him to overcome everything that life could throw at him.
His determination to pursue his dreams manifested in the diverse strategies that he adopted to combat the toxic impact of failure. His subject knowledge and expertise in his chosen field, his phenomenal appetite for new technologies, his refusal to allow any adversity to damage his self-belief, his impeccable professionalism – it all contributed to his success. He did not flinch when the chips were down, he did not let despair impair his judgment, and the clarity of his vision when undertaking new projects served him well in his career progression.
The book is full of numerous learning points for any person who are embarking on their journey to make their professional life a little bit more than merely satisfactory. There are nuggets of wisdom in every anecdote that Bhushan narrates. Even when he hits an impasse, he offers insights to enable improvement in the future. There is a repertoire of wisdom based on experience over decades that young professionals could glean from reading this book. What is being offered is practical, germane and relevant for a wide range of professions.
What struck a chord with me was his positive attitude when things got tough. His heightened sense of alertness to new opportunities and untrodden paths epitomises his quest for diversification. He does not let the turning points in his life pass him by. Throughout his chequered career as a Chartered Accountant, he has kept his antennae up and striven to think outside the box. He reminds us that every opportunity missed is an opportunity lost. His passion for perfection helps him to welcome updates in his skills, understanding and knowledge. This kind of passion will be immensely beneficial to professionals in any field. Similarly his sense of enterprise and adapting to new challenges are attributes key to long-term success. Working outside his comfort zone and keeping his focus on his task have made a significant contribution to his success.
It is difficult to distil all the learning points in a few pages. You need to read it, devour it and then practise what you have harvested to derive lasting enjoyment.
SEHDEV BISMAL MBE
I hope my life, my experiences and my adventures will provide the less-privileged youth with practical strategies to rise out of deprivation and face the competitive world with renewed self-confidence. I believe my narrative will underscore many valuable lessons, which should inspire and guide young professionals and entrepreneurs to take the less travelled road to success.
I wish to share with my readers a real story, a story that would have scorched my life-chances if I hadn’t tenaciously clung on to my self-belief and my insatiable appetite for constant improvement.
The year was 1974. I had passed my Chartered Accountancy examination in the year 1973. I stayed for more than 3 years in Chandigarh YMCA Hostel before and after completion of my CA studies. Seven more CA students lived on our floor. Mr. Brij Mohan Varma, a CA student was two rooms away from me. Brij Mohan was the son of a former General Manager of United Commercial Bank. His brother, Mr. Krishan Gopal Varma, then a senior IAS Officer in the Government of Haryana, lived in the same area in which the YMCA was situated, Sector-11, Chandigarh. He preferred to stay away from his brother as he did not get on with him or feel comfortable with his sister-in-law. After retirement, his father settled in the holy town of Brindaban. Brij Mohan received a small monthly allowance from his father; often at irregular intervals. That was the time when pensions and salaries were small. I supported him whenever he was short of funds. Brij Mohan’s’s friend, Guru Prashad Aggarwal (GP), also a CA student, lived with his brother in Sector -11, Chandigarh. His brother was an Executive Engineer in the Haryana State Electricity Board. One freezing winter night GP knocked at BM’s door at the dead of the night. He was thrown out of the house by his brother, with whom he had had an argument. Thus GP became a resident in BM’s room, though unauthorized. One day GP did not go to his office and also did not go to the hostel mess for food. I went to his room and found him completely beside himself, a broken man. While lying on his bed, he was staring blankly at the ceiling. He did not react to my arrival in his room. On my repeatedly asking him the reason for his despondency, he told me that he had decided to discontinue his studies. BM was also in the room. Both BM and GP did not possess adequate financial resources to support their studies. I was distressed at their plight. I narrated to them my life story. They were the first to know about my incredibly strenuous and hardships-filled past, which even none of my family members knew. Motivated by the story both repeatedly promised me that they would continue their studies. Both BM and GP qualified their CA examinations without ever failing. After qualifying, GP joined Indian Oil Corporation as Accounts Officer. BM started his practice at Chandigarh and subsequently migrated to USA, joined a Bank and rose to the position of its Chairman.
The will to succeed, the will to work and above all the dignity of labour are the essential tools in career- making of the young as well as of those not so young. The world is very competitive but, at the same time, offers enormous opportunities. I feel this book will enthuse and provoke thoughts in young professionals. To survive, every professional needs to be innovative. He/she needs to inculcate in himself/herself the spirit of entrepreneurship. Change is the law of nature. Change of environment is a vital tonic for any human being. Similarly a frequent change in line of activity keeps a professional alert, mentally agile and engaged. Those who do not change are destined to be stagnated and eventually perish.
We should neither be over- joyous on success nor too dolorous by failure. We need to be positive when faced with hostile and worst of the circumstances. We need to adopt a balanced approach and take things as they come, improve upon the past deficiencies and aspire to the best.
Kul Bhushan Lal Chopra
K B LAL CHOPRA & CO.,
MOHALI – 160 059.
Turning Mirrors into Windows
I was born in a large family in the year 1946 at Machhiwara in Punjab, a state in India. We were four brothers and six sisters and I was number six in the familial pecking order. After completing his studies in Civil Engineering from the Engineering College at Roorkee in the year 1883, my grandfather joined the irrigation department and served in what we now call Eastern Uttar Pardesh in India. The British Government in India conferred upon him the title of ‘Rai Bahadur’ in recognition of his meritorious services in the field of irrigation. In that era it was quite common for prominent citizens to display their names on their residential buildings. Our double-story house at Machhiwara also had my grandfather’s name ‘Rai Bahadur Lahori Ram Chopra’ in English proudly displayed in raised plaster on the front of the house.
My father had 9 siblings, seven sisters and two brothers. My father’s brother, Ram Partap Chopra, graduated in Civil Engineering from Bombay in the year 1905. He died of dysentery while on the threshold of his career, within a year of his marriage, when he was merely 22 years. At that time my father was studying in 8th standard at Arya High School, Ludhiana, the district head quarter town of our area. No education facility beyond primary education was available in our home town. Shattered by the tragic death of his young son, for whom he had provided the best of education; my grandfather took a momentous decision which had lasting impact on the generations that ensued. He decided to keep my father close to him as an emotional resolution to his grief and not to let him leave Machhiwara to pursue education elsewhere. After his schooling was over, my grandfather set up for him a fabric retailing shop.
My father was a man of simple tastes. He did not possess the acumen or aptitude for running a successful business enterprise. Unsurprisingly impenetrable darkness descended on our fortunes immediately after my grandfather’s death in 1949. Our family was large but resources severely limited. As a desperate measure, my father turned to family assets to deal with the perpetual deficits that he had to encounter. Without sufficient regular income, assets, howsoever large they may be, do not last long. It proved true for him too. Soon reserves and investments started to wither away, and became depleted. Within a short span of time, our family fell from plenty into scarcity and from prosperity into deprivation.
My youngest brother died in the year 1978 at the age of 19. My eldest brother had joined the Indian Army after dropping out from college. To his credit he rose from the rank of a Sepoy to a Lieutenant Colonel before he retired. My second brother, Sehdev is a genius. He performed superbly in his studies He is a literary person, and at that time, wrote poetry in Urdu. He became a prolific poet under the guidance of my father, who, too, was an Urdu Poet. Both my father and brother had a number of publications in newspapers and magazines. Sehdev also edited the ‘Urdu Section’ of his college Magazine, ‘Sutlej’, published by his college, Government College, Ludhiana, for two years, 1960-61 and 1961-62. My father gave him the pen-name ‘Bismal’ and he became known as Sehdev Bismal.
After my matriculation in the year 1962, Sehdev, took up the responsibility of my college education. At that time he was a student of M.A (English) Part-II at Government College, Ludhiana. My father, with his meagre resources, did not have the capability to fund my education. I too joined Government College Ludhiana and started living with Sehdev. He completed his post graduation in English in the year 1963 and joined as a lecturer at S.D. College, Barnala in Punjab. His college study period was full of hardships for him. Money was scarce. It was immensely difficult to meet cost of basic necessities of living and studies. After teaching for one year at the S.D. College Barnala, he moved to Arya College, Ludhiana, where he taught till the year 1966 when I appeared in B.A. Final. He was greatly courted by his students for the quality of his teaching and the breadth of his knowledge. Coaching individual students came handy to him for supplementing his income. That was the time when a lecturer in a private college was paid Rs. 245/- per month and Rs. 265/- in a Government college. He moved to S.D. College, Shimla in 1966. I had compartment in one subject so I accompanied him to Shimla and stayed with him till I appeared in examination in September, 1966. Soon after shifting to Shimla, Sehdev applied for an ‘Employment Voucher' in United Kingdom as he was not comfortable in India. He was married and had a one year old son. He dreamed of a better career in the United Kingdom. He received his ‘Employment Permit’ in December, 1966 and migrated to U.K. in February,1967.
My graduation was complete by virtue of great support from Sehdev. My life might have been different from what I am today if he had not cared for and nursed me.
After appearing in examination in September, 1966 I moved to my home at Machhiwara, which was a small town with population of approximately three thousand. Since I could see no future for myself at that place; I resolved not to stay there. I started poring over job advertisements in the Tribune. In October, 1966, I had two job interviews at Chandigarh: Tata Textiles Showroom in Sector-17 and Hotel Oberoi Mountview.
At that time Hotel Oberoi Mountview, a property owned by the Chandigarh Administration, was on lease with the Oberoi Group of Hotels. It was the only hotel in the town for the elite to stay in. Faced by a long strike by the non-management staff, the management advertised for all sort of jobs in newspapers. I reached the hotel for interview and came across a few of the recently recruited Delhi- based well educated staff, all of them clearly possessed brilliant fluency in spoken English. They presented to me a fascinating scenario of the job prospects in that hotel, which appealed to me. Thus I joined the hotel as a Waiter. I was not in the least embarrassed to work in that position at a place where the General Manager of the hotel, Nirwan Kumar Dhir, had temporarily taken the place of a couple of chefs who were on strike. Mr. Dhir belonged to an erstwhile Diwan family of the princely state of Kapurthala. Diwan name was given to the chief administrator of the Raja (Ruler) of the state. At that time Mr. Dhir was in his late thirties. He lived in suite No. 1 of the hotel with his pretty wife and two children, daughter Ashima (8 years) and son Ashish (6years). They were living there as any other hotel guest, all facilities and privileges accorded to them by virtue of Mr. Dhir being the General Manager of the hotel. Many management trainees of the Oberoi Group were on duty for service in the restaurant and housekeeping Department. It instilled into me a sense of dignity of labour, which became part of my existence.
While I was working at Hotel Oberoi Mountivew. I started sharing with Krishan Saini, a Bar Man of the Hotel, his rented room in Sector -10, Chandigarh. Krishan had joined the hotel a week earlier than me. He was a science graduate, aged about 35 years. He had a good role at Delhi Cloth Mills Limited at Delhi. Unfortunately he contracted tuberculosis and had to get treatment at the Government Hospital for Tuberculosis at Dharamur, Shimla Hills in the year 1964. That was the time when India did not have any reliable treatment for tuberculosis. The best option for a patient was to get admission in some sanatorium, where unpolluted mountain air helped in recovery. During his ordeal, Krishan had lost one lung. Medically he became partially incapacitated. To him the hotel job came handy. So, he was a Bar man, tending drinks to the high ups in the hotel. That was the time when that hotel was the only good hotel in Chandigarh. Most local people did not have the wherewithal or desire to visit the hotel. The privileged ones exercised the option of visiting Chandigarh Club, which was a club of the elite, with membership base of only 400 at that time. The only locals I could see at the hotel were Mr. Sharma, a correspondent of the Tribune, Mr. Vij, Managing Director of The Punjab Warehousing Corporation and Mr. Sohan Singh, Managing Director of The Punjab Markfed. Both Sharma and Vij were bachelors. It was their routine to be in the hotel bar room every evening. The hotel bar was their favourite haunt. Mr Sohan Singh sympathised with the downturn in his circumstance and offered him a post. Krishan left the hotel and joined the Punjab Markfed as a Senior Assistant in the year 1968.
I was happy working at the Hotel Oberoi Mountview. The majority of the hotel guests were foreigners, who tipped at 10% of the bill amount. One day, while checking out from the Hotel, the Maharaja of Nabha, Raja Narinder Singh, was looking for me. I was assisting Mr. Dhir in the hotel kitchen. He sent me out of the kitchen as soon as he learnt that the Raja was looking for me. As soon as I opened the door I was before the Maharaja. He gave me a crisp five- rupee note and thanked me for serving him during his stay for a day. I was happy at his gesture. I went back to the kitchen and proudly showed the five- rupee note to Mr. Dhir. He smiled and expressed his happiness. That was the time when a five- rupee note was a princely sum in my eyes. I stayed on the hotel job for one and a half month, during which time I had savings from my salary of Rs. 150/- per month and tips, adequate to get a pair of woollen trousers and a coat tailored made to measure from Kartar Tailors, Sector -22 D, Chandigarh.
One evening in the month of December, 1966 I was taking delivery of my Graduation Certificate at the Hotel Reception when I came across Mr. Rajnder Kumar Garg, a prominent lawyer of the Supreme Court of India. He had come to Chandigarh to represent a former Judge of the Gurudwara Tribunal, who had been dismissed from his job. Mr. Garg saw the certificate in my hand and called me to his room. He was in the company of a few prominent personalities of the town. On seeing me at the door of his room, Mr. Garg roared: “See, this country! Here a first class graduate is working as a waiter in the hotel. Revolution must come in India. And it will come.” He spoke on the political and social systems of those days. He offered me work at his Delhi office. He said: “You come to me in Delhi. I shall bear the total cost of your education. You may join any stream of studies you may like, including legal. But, if you join legal then you may have to stay a bachelor like me.” And he laughed.
I had received another offer from a Jallandhar (Punjab) based industrialist. I was happy to receive offer from Mr. Garg and opted for it. My brother, Sehdev, migrated to U.K. in February, 1967. Soon after that I joined Mr. Garg at Delhi.
Mr. Garg was a senior partner in a firm of Solicitors at Supreme Court, R.K. Ramamurthy & Co. Other partners were Sh. Krishnamurthy & Suresh Aggarwal. Mr. V. K. Krishna Menon, former Defence Minister of India, was their associate and used to appear in Supreme Court for their cases. At his age, 35 years, Mr. Garg was a very successful lawyer. He used to roar like a lion while pleading in a court. He had a shrill voice. His success rate was phenomenal. I used to accompany him to the court rooms with his briefs and references. That was the time when there were no security checks for entering Supreme Court of India or the High Court of Delhi.
I started staying in the annexe of his house in Jangpura Extension, New Delhi. The only other members at his house were his aged mother, a driver and a cook cum caretaker of the house. He bought for me a new bicycle for commuting to his office chambers in the Supreme Court premises from his house. The distance was approximately 6 KMs. He had advised me to visit Mr. Menon’s place in the evening and have benefit of his library. I was young at 20 years. I carried out his instructions.
I had got enrolled in the Chandigarh Employment Exchange. About two months after I had joined Mr. Garg, I received a communication from Krishan at Chandigarh about a call for me for an interview at Chandigarh Estate Office. I was feeling uncomfortable at Mr. Garg’s place. I was not mature enough to take up the challenges. Happy at the call for a job in Chandigarh, I took leave and appeared for the interview. I got the job of an office assistant on a salary of Rs.150/- per month.
One day while serving at the Chandigarh Estate Office, one Mr. Chadha from U.K. visited me. My brother, Sehdev had stayed with him for about a year when he migrated to U.K. and before his family had joined him. Mr. Chadha was in search of a suitable match for his daughter, Sukesh. He had my reference from Sehdev. I was standing with Mr. Chadha in the office corridor. He gave me Sehdev’s reference. He said to me: “Will you like to migrate to U.K?” I happily said “Yes”. Soon thereafter, he along with his brother in law, Mr. Om Parkash Bector, a prominent Congress Party leader and a businessman at Doraha in Punjab visited my parents and presented Sukesh’s matrimonial proposal for me. It was accepted by my parents. Chadha & Bector repeated the visit for formal betrothal ceremony. They presented us five sovereigns, a large basket of fruits and many boxes of sweets from the famous sweetmeat shop of Ludhiana, Khushi Ram & Sons. Thus I got engaged with Sukesh. Chadha left for U.K. Bector repeated his visits many times and brought us presents. Both Chadha and Bector sent their presents on the marriage of my elder sister, Kamlesh. Sukesh was in School at that time. She was to study for a couple of years more. I was to go migrate to U.K. after completion of her studies.
About three months thereafter, I applied for a job of a Junior Auditor in the Punjab Food & Civil Supplies Department, Chandigarh. It was in response to an advertisement in the newspapers. I appeared for a written test and interview. I got selected and joined the department on a salary of Rs. 180 per month. I was fortunate to get selected for a job wherever I went for an interview.
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