Dreams do come true, and these 3 stories are proof!
Sometimes, life has different ways of making your dreams true. In the most unexpected ways, they may get fulfilled, so don’t be disheartened if you’re unable to achieve them, work hard & trust the process.
“My parents thought I was joking when I said, ‘I got into Unilever!’ I guess I can’t blame them. As a kid, if someone told me that I’d be working at one of the biggest companies in the country one day… I would’ve laughed! Not that I wasn't a good student, but back then, my aspirations weren't corporate-inclined; as a child, I had dreams of becoming become a dancer or a performer.
But as I grew up, I realised I wanted more from life and started off on the path to secure my future, by studying mechanical engineering from VJTI. College life flew by in making friendships that I still cherish and having the time of my life. During placements, I bagged the role of an assistant production manager in a leading FMCG company.
I was doing well for myself, and making my parents proud! I worked there for 2 years, until I heard about an opening in Unilever. Just the idea of working for a company that was a household name was exciting! But when I actually got the job, it felt like a dream! Neither could my parents believe it. It was a huge moment for us.
Since the day I joined Unilever, I loved it! I was working with brilliant people who were constantly striving to make it a house of brands that touched lives. And I got the opportunity to do the same during my first project–heading operations for the launch of Magnum ice creams in India. We worked day and night to make sure that the products reached the retailers on time and in good shape. It was exhausting, but worth it!
After the success of that, I was promoted to Manufacturing Manager. And later, I even switched to the role of Project Manager. While the excitement of new adventures at work was fulfilling, I wanted to accelerate my personal development. So, after speaking to my mentor and loved ones, I took the leap and applied for an MBA. I was over the moon when I got into IIM-I! But then, it hit me–I would have to quit my job and leave the place I considered home…
But turns out I didn’t need to do that at all–instead of losing my job, I was given a sabbatical to pursue my MBA. And with that, I was promised that when I returned, a promotion would be waiting for me. So, after my MBA, when I was back as the Global Sourcing Operations Manager, I was determined to show them how much I valued their faith in me!
And their support wasn't just limited to professional growth, but also personal. When I was having my baby, they had my back–covering all medical expenses. For a new mother-to-be, that was one less thing to stress about.
Honestly, I thank my lucky stars everyday–I have the freedom to work from Mumbai and look after my son, Evaan, while my team operates out of Bangalore. And being home with my son gives me the privilege to witness all his milestones–from his first laugh to his first steps. And just the way my family helps me look after him during my meetings, my Unilever family supports me through flexible ways of working.
Today, I’ve got the best of both worlds–as a mother AND a leader!”
“When I got rejected after my HUL interview, I was devastated. But little did I know, that wasn’t the end of the road… You see, it wasn’t the first failure I’d had. Funnily enough, life always found a way to give me a second chance.
The first setback was at 15, when I missed out on my dream career. Both my parents being doctors, I wanted to be one; but I fell short by 1% & couldn’t pursue Science. The next set-back came on its heels; when I failed in 11th grade. I thought I’d hit rock bottom! But luckily, I was given a chance to redeem myself. So, for the next month, I studied hard & passed my re-exams with flying colours! I still have my results framed; a reminder that if I work hard enough, I can overcome anything.
Later, while pursuing my MBA, I developed an interest in e-commerce. It took me back to 15-yr-old Ayush who couldn’t become a doctor… & I thanked my lucky stars that I’d found my true passion!
And it was while working in e-commerce that my rejection from HUL happened. Defeated, I tried to move on… but destiny came calling 1 month later. HUL contacted me for another opportunity. I still remember, I gave that interview from the parking lot of my then-office. At the end of that call, I was told, ‘Okay, you’re in.’ I was ecstatic!
That’s how I began managing Omnichannel at HUL 5 yrs ago. It was really exciting, because the role hadn’t existed before I joined. I was given the opportunity to build Omnichannel from the ground up. I got to learn how to deal with people in retail, understand customer needs, negotiate with stakeholders & so much more. And I was lucky enough to travel across the country–not just that, I took my first international trip to London within months of joining! It was like a dream!
I took all my learnings with me when I moved on to become Account Manager for Amazon, & then, Flipkart. In the past 2 years, I’ve worked hard to take them to the next level–last year, Amazon was the only one that over-delivered in the Covid-hit quarter, & this year, we’ve already crossed our multi-crore targets for Flipkart!
Today, if my journey has taught me anything, it’s this–life may strike you down, but you have to keep going. After all, you must burn to emerge!”
“My parents always envisioned an extraordinary life for me. I remember, in 2nd grade, Dad would carry me on his shoulders & take me to the zoo every weekend. And when we’d pass by one of the top institutes, he’d say, ‘One day, you’ll get in here & carry me on your shoulders.’
Growing up, I excelled as a student—but after I pursued engineering, I realised it wasn’t for me. While in college, I was leading the marketing department that brought in brand sponsorships, & I really enjoyed it. Through that, I even bagged a marketing internship at HUL for Lipton Tea! And I fell in love—with the campus, the people & the project. It opened my eyes to what affects buying decisions of shoppers, & how the smallest ideas can make a difference. It became my dream company.
So, to fulfil my dreams, I pursued an MBA, & worked hard to get into IIM-C. I was on a flight when my results came out, & I was flooded by messages of ‘Congratulations!’ as soon as I landed. I couldn’t believe it! And neither could my Dad—he even asked me for a screenshot as proof.
I was on track for that extraordinary dream life that my parents wanted for me. But things didn’t start off smoothly at IIM-C. As one of the youngest in my batch, I felt out of place. One month in, I called Mom & said, ‘I can’t do this.’ But she said, ‘In kindergarten, you were the only kid who didn’t need anyone to hold her hand to write her ABCs. You’re still that person. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything!’
That pumped my confidence, & I worked hard to stand out amongst my peers. And after graduation, I got a Sales Manager job at a leading beauty brand! But the dream of Unilever always lingered…
So, 2 years later, when an opportunity came up, I jumped for it. I gave my interview, & very swiftly, I had a job offer in hand. I thought, ‘Is this really happening?’ And my parents were over the moon!
It's been over a year since I joined as a Content & Capabilities Manager – e-Commerce. And I’m loving the dynamism & autonomy of the role; I get to work with many of HUL’s brands, & help unlock better decision making & an e-commerce-first content strategy for them. From an intern to a manager, my HUL journey has just begun!”
Being India’s largest storytelling platform, Humans of Bombay is all about bringing you extraordinary stories of ordinary people. Today, we bring you these inspiring stories to remind you that dreams do come true, you just have to keep chasing them! If you’d like to read more such stories, check out our book and dive into the diverse tales of Bombay.