There comes a time in life when you are not sure of what you want to do, what you want to be, where you want to go, or what your life’s purpose is. Gunjan Aggarwal, PGP Co ’05, also waded through this phase before finding her true calling. Her professional pursuit began as a Chartered Accountant with short stints in leading consulting and banking firms. However, Gunjan longed to be an entrepreneur in the education space. From dabbling in a vocational training firm to a digital marketing firm she got deep insights into the educational system. Based on her research and findings, she realized that there is a prominent gap in the education ecosystem. To mitigate the gap, Gunjan co-founded ‘Learn with Leaders’ in 2020.
An entrepreneur for 15 years now, she and her co-founders built an international learning community that helps students build meaningful relationships with peers from other countries and realize their dreams. Her aim is to democratize Ivy League education.
“I have learnt everything about entrepreneurship and business on the ground,” she says. With complete dedication and commitment, Gunjan is on a mission to introduce a new-age education system that can transform lives and help people understand that it is time for an academic transition.
The ISB (Indian School of Business) Value
“ISB has given me deep friendships that changed my life in terms of who I have become. The power of its network is the greatest ROI for me, even two decades after my graduation.” Each day at the school was a highlight, and ISB was beyond getting grades, she says. “There’s a plethora of good memories of the grind and fun on the campus.” The real-life lessons in time management, relationship building, communication, etc. were the true lessons that laid the foundation for bigger achievements in life.
The Alumni Community Edge
Gunjan says, “My closest friends are from ISB. They are my lifeline. We are friends without judgement. We spent that one year together and I do not think I can create those kinds of bonds with others ever.”
The Journey and the Reward
Gunjan always had a passion for education and wanted to make a dent in the system. Doing what she loves to do has made her life’s journey rewarding. “I found out who I truly was, my strengths, what I connect with, the right people I relish being with, people who energize me, who propel me forward. Today I relate with a higher purpose. If 7-10 years ago someone asked me about the purpose of my life, I would have been all at sea. Most of us live our lives never bothering to ask ourselves that question. But I am so glad I have found my purpose. I am the master of my time.”
Leadership and Other Lessons Learnt
“A good leader is also a good follower. You must follow and lead your team at the same time. As a leader, you should be able to create a collective vision of what you want to achieve. Our business is in a hyper-growth stage and the one thing I need to learn every day is to develop more empathy, especially while leading a large team.”
The other thing learnt is that excuses are the bane of success. “If you decide to do something, you will take out time no matter how busy you may be. Reading, for example, was a rare activity for me four years back. But now I have developed the habit of reading every day for at least ten minutes.”
“If you are in a situation with no choice, you have no other option than to adapt. As an entrepreneur when you do not have people to do a job for you or if you cannot afford to outsource it, you learn to do it yourself.”
Coasting Through the Pandemic
“Every crisis comes with an opportunity. You have the choice to think of a crisis as devastating, and the negative effect will show on you. But those who see a positive aspect in the dark times disregard the fears and go all out to make the most of the opportunities.”
During the pandemic, the world seemed to have lost its boundaries. Lives got upended in a brief span. What people were trying to do for years became the norm within weeks. “Circumstances can turn around lives in less than two weeks. That has been the story of my life,” says Gunjan.
The pandemic was a fantastic opportunity for her and her team to connect the kids globally. Online became a platform for kids to come together, have fun, make new friends, and learn at the same time.
Being Relevant and Keeping Spirited
“I dislike comfort zones. Challenges and actions energize me and keep me going. I would not have it any other way. I have dealt with so many challenges in my life that very few things scare me.”
Personal Mantra and Advice
“I love spreading joy. I love spreading ideas. I love to be a part of people’s success stories and ‘Learn with Leaders’ gives me the choice to do that. Imagine changing the direction of a child’s life story and the effect on them when they are led to do what they are good at. It is not worth doing something you do not enjoy.”
“I keep meeting interesting people and learning from them. I would advise students at ISB to stay away from the rat race and not to follow the queue.”