How being self-driven can lead to a successful career


Few instances in the recent past have led me to start looking back into my own journey of education, learning and entrepreneurship. In retrospect, I would like to identify three distinct phases and the people who played a key role during each phase as main contributors to my growth and success. While I recapitulate the unique aspects of each phase I can’t help re-discovering myself as a self-driven individual who did not mind trying the untrodden paths.

Learning starts from home, gets nurtured at school, takes direction in graduation, utilized in work, gets polished as life progresses and keeps going on as we grow and mature. 

Home and family – education begins

My parents had never forced me or my siblings to take up something of their choice nor did they try to live their life through us. My mother with a strong NCC and ace shooting background never insisted what we follow her path. Our father having done IIT, never insisted any of us to go for IIT or take up the same vocation. While they demonstrated and enjoyed what they did; we took bits of pieces of what connected with us. It was our own internal calling which took three of us to different paths and we were guided and supported wherever it was needed.

School – formal education

In the 1970-1980 era, we did not have many options but at the age of 14 to 16 we had the option to choose certain vocational skills such as Language learning, Typewriting, Technical Drawing etc which were quite relevant. I type at 35 – 40 words per minute even today – a vocational skill which was part of my curriculum of choice. Some of my teachers like Ms Pagar, Ms Vakharia, Ms Menezes from Rosary High School, Baroda demonstrated the commitment, communication skills, empathy, discipline, articulation and encouraged us to practice them. They inspired us to be self-driven and assertive.

successful careerCollege – higher education

There were a few faculty members like Prof P B Desai Faculty of Technology, M.S. University, Baroda and others whom you could look up to and learn. He allowed me to explore and learn by self, I had to create the demand for knowledge, and he would come up with support. This led me to learn Electronics and Machine Level Programming while studying Mechanical Engineering.

Industry: professional life

I had the benefit of entering the industry in my school years and explore how we engage with people at workplace, understand behaviours and appreciate human engagement. I learnt electrical drawing and vocational skills from a technician while at work. My competencies and behaviors are a result of being self-driven and taking responsibility for my improvement.

Introspection – looking back

 I do not find all having the benefits which I have enjoyed (to my perception). Inspite of all the benefits I had, I do think that had I been given a vocational route to career building, perhaps I may have done still better than what I have today.

It would have saved a person like me from class XI to XII studying Biology, Chemistry and Physics in so much depth, and allowed to learn basic skills in electrical/mechanical for example. Then probably I could have taken the engineering higher education with a stronger practical background, not requiring to learn skills at work, without a structure.

In 2018, I found the next connection which was of building competencies. I got connected with Empretec program from UNCTAD. Once again, something like this in my early age, would have helped my articulation and growth faster. After graduation, doing an MBA or any course was not looking meaningful, and all these learnings came from piecemeal self-learning from different entrepreneurs. UNCTAD has packaged all this with a continuous learning access.

Articulating my learnings – looking ahead

Looking back at my learning and strong enabling tools which are my strong asset, a team of young and experienced colleagues and friends, I have realized, we need promote “Vocational and Competency” based education which helps young people in finding their calling in profession of their choice.

In a recent chat with one of my colleagues on his son’s higher education I learnt that he had never pressurized his son to secure high marks. I suggested that he should encourage his son to make independent decisions and be self-driven rather than being told what needs to be done. I had also told him how my daughter had the choice to pursue her interest and support from parents.

I would firmly recommend everyone to make learning a combination of vocation and academic education and relate their use in day-today life. Find benchmarks that help you set your own targets in life. And I wish to tell all parents “don’t live your dreams through your child, let their dreams flourish and nurture them. ”

Guest author: Manish Kothari, Managing Director, Rhino Machines Pvt Ltd : Director, ACE Foundation Email :

1 Comment

  1. I agree with you Manish.. to add..

    “You can’t plan a career decades ahead. Some of the jobs and places that will interest you then don’t exist NOW – and some that interest you NOW will be gone then. Throw out your ten years career plan. Plan for knowledge and skills you want to learn next year.”

    ~ Peter Grant: Author: GIVE AND TAKE, ORIGINALS, OPTION B. Podcast: WorkLife. Organizational psychologist at Wharton.

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