Abhijit Dabhade

Managing Partner - International Institute of Sports Managment
Owner - Blue Bridge Education Consultants LLP

Let’s start by telling us a little about your background, parents, family, where were you born, and where do you live?

I was born in a Maharashtrian middle class family in the wine capital of India, Nashik to working parents - my father retired from a central government hospital and my mother a principal form the state department school. After completing my higher education from Pune, I moved to Mumbai, where I am currently settled.

What did you want to become growing up? And what did you go to school for? (They don’t have to be the same, they hardly ever are).

Like every child I too wanted to be everything that fascinated me! sometimes a fireman, sometimes a doctor but as I grew through college I desired to be in a socially inclined profession and chose to study marketing and media both. I started my career in media but eventually found my calling in the education field. Like every middle class family in India my parents too wanted me to be a doctor, more so coz my elder brother had already graduated as an engineer! To utter dismay and frustration of my father - I refused to sign on the medical college form I was getting admission into!! I told him I don't think I have the patience to operate humans, i might ending up killing them rather than healing them….As I entered the gates of Fergusson College, Pune to do my graduation in Chemistry - I started to understand myself better and then eventually went on to do double masters in marketing management as well as mass communication form the Department of Communication Studies, University of Pune.

In one word (okay, one sentence), who/what are you?

I’m a helper! My deepest desire is to contribute meaningfully to an individual’s life - what better than to provide education to offer a better direction.

In a couple of sentences, describe your profession, business, most recent project (if you are an actor, musician, etc.) Specific numbers are very helpful - # of employees, capital raised, company valuation, years in business, and what the business/company is about.

I started consulting in education management about a couple of years ago after having worked in this industry for about 15 years in some of leading brands here.

Currently I am a managing partner to a higher education institute in Sports Management and also settling up a K-12 school for an industrialist in a rural area near Sangli, Maharashtra. I often call myself PG to PG man - Play group to Post Graduation!

How did you get started in the industry/ this startup/company/ project?

Well, I was sick and tired of full time employment and wanted to utilize my skills and experience in a more effective and better way - hence the idea of consulting education institutions/ schools/startups to scale up or improve their operations for better revenues and growth. This also helps me fulfil my wish to contribute meaningfully to a student’s life as I get more freedom and independence to implement my ideas.

What according to you are the most important life lessons you’ve learned that have made you better at what you do?

Respect for fellow beings - valuing relationships and fellow beings irrespective of the circumstances has been one of my guiding principles of life

Forthrightness - I have always been a forthright person, never afraid of expressing my views unreservedly - while it did draw some flak during my employment days but i preferred to stick to my guns.

Deep desire - to continuously do something meaningful rather regular mundane jobs - it took some time to get out of the “rat race” and do what I want to do.

Describe your daily/weekly routine.

My weekdays are typical working days though I have learnt to stop work by 6 pm in the evening and head back home for an early dinner and spend time with my 6 year son! at times if I arrive early and take him to the park to play. Mornings i do my yoga and jogging while weekends are more relaxed - catch up on cricket or movie - spend time with my wife and son or help them with groceries.

Share some of the growing pains in the industry and any failures, setbacks. And how you dealt with or overcame them.

Education industry in India is highly unorganized and doesn't actually have an “industry” status like a retail or pharma or IT does, so it’s never been easy to propagate professional practices in this filed. Though things are changing but very slowly. It took sometime in the beginning to convince entrepreneurs that I can consult them or help them improve their education business - eventually a couple of them did trust and thus began my projects - inc them it has been fairly enjoyable journey!

lessons learnt from these setbacks that you can share with our readers?

Client will always want to do it their way, especially entrepreneurs who are funding the project or running the institution - they think their vision or thigh process is the right way to go - it is at time s agonizing to convince them better solutions that they are in disagreement with. You have to be patient and wait for the right opportunity to introduce your thoughts - it takes time but as you start producing results their openness to your vision increases.

How has being a Desi inspired, motivated, or positively or negatively impacted you-professionally and personally?

Innovation and constant desire to do something different! This further got fueled by Mumbai, the commercial capital of India. this city teaches you to ‘adjust’ - if you are in local train there is a technique to get in and so to get out of the train - in 14 seconds you are amongst 4000 people to get in or get out during the peak travel hours! Or managing space at home or office as the average cost of residential real estate in this city 10 years back was 5000 INR (~$80) per sq feet - the agility and finally the entrepreneurial spirit of the city has always inspired me to fulfil my desire to do something different….

What drives you? Approval of somebody/ anyone you are trying to impress (consciously or subconsciously)?

My constant endeavor to do something big and meaningful in the education and personal development area in India is what drives every day of my life and of course the desire to prove my middle parents wrong that its possible to earn and live comfortably without a ‘job’ - (they still don't know what I do).

What next? Where do you go from here? (1/3/5 years out)

I see myself meaningfully co-creating institutions with solid foundations of education and value system in young fellow country men and women.

Any practical and philosophical advice you would like to share?

Don't be afraid to go off the beaten path - take risks…

Please list any charity or non-profit you support that you would like readers to know about?

I support a few causes of environment and education.

Rapid Fire:

Favorite City/Cities - Mumbai, London

Favorite Movie - Iqbal, Three Idiots, Tare Zameen Par

Favorite Song(s) - O saathi tere bina bhi kya jeena

Favorite time of day - 6.00 am

Weirdest thing you have ever done that the world can know about? Travelled free of cost on local train in Mumbai and after getting caught by the TC - lied to him regarding a medical emergency to let off!!