5 IITians who went off the beaten track to find success and passion

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The kind that likes to walk a completely alien and unbeaten path. Their ‘unbeaten path’ sits million miles removed from every other path out there. And when you finally hear about their journey from graduation to where they are now, it almost feels like a dream.


In the world that’s busy talking about passion yet not willing to move an inch, these spirited folks are perfect paradox to find success.


So, if you’re looking for an offroad career path or goosebump-worthy motivation, stop right here. Stop and meet the rare breed of IITians that is scattered across time, but united by raw passion to find success!

Navniet SekeraInspector General

Navniet Sekera 5 IITians who went off the beaten track to find success and passion

IIT, Roorkee – Computer Science and Engineering (1989-93)
Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad – Major in Finance, Strategy & Leadership (2010-11)

Navniet is the closest you can come to a real life hero and a total badass.

  • He’s currently an Inspector General (IG) at Women Power Line, Uttar Pradesh.
  • At the age of 32, he became the youngest police chief (SSP) of a state capital (Lucknow).
  • He’s responsible for reducing the kidnapping rates in Western UP by more than 95% and bringing the crime rates under by 60%.
  • He formed ‘Women Power Line 1090’ in UP in 2012. This force acts as a parallel police functionary that allows women to file complaints anonymously over phone.
  • He won Rs. 5 lakh cash reward by the then CM of UP for developing GPS-GIS based Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS) in year 2001 when he was SP, Technical Services.

And here are a few awards he bagged during his tenure.

  • Police Medal for Gallantry 2004
  • Chief Minister’s Reward for Innovation 2002
  • President Medal for Meritorious Service 2013

Talk about an all rounder find success, huh! Is there anything this guy can’t do?

Saurabh AggarwalEndurance Athlete

saurabh aggarwal 5 IITians who went off the beaten track to find success and passion

IIT, Delhi – Chemical Engineering (2007-11)

Ironman. This one word is enough to describe Saurabh Aggarwal. This IIT lad turned his passion for adventure sports into a life goal. Here’s the incredible story of his raw courage and stubborn passion to find success.

  • Started an adventure club at IIT-D, spent his college days playing hockey, and regularly arranged camping trips with his mates.
  • Took up a job at Flipkart, but couldn’t shake off his itch for sports, adventure, and the rush of adrenaline. Finally quit his job in 2012.
  • Bought a paraglider from saved money and headed straight to Himalayas.
  • Dived head-first into rafting, mountaineering, swimming, cycling, climbing, trekking, skiing, canoeing and more. He trained for every activity that pushed his mental and physical barriers.
  • In Aug 2013, he set his eyes on the ultimate test of human endurance – An Ironman Triathlon (i.e. – 3.86 kilometres open water swimming, 180 kilometres cycling and a 42.2-kilometre marathon!!)
  • Finished full Ironman Triathlon in 2014 in Sweden. Set conquering Mt. Everest his next goal.
  • He had scaled 6400 m on Everest when the earthquake hit in April 2015. All expeditions were cancelled.
  • Finished La Ultra – 111 km run in Ladakh.

I could go on about his terrific feats but you get the gist. Right now, he’s combining his love for fitness with his entrepreneurial drive by building FITSO – an affordable fitness and training app for everyone to find success.

Peter ChanBonsai Expert

Peter Chan 5 IITians who went off the beaten track to find success and passion

IIT, Kharagpur – Electrical Engineering (1958-62)

Born and brought up in Calcutta, Peter is a self-taught Bonsai artist. You can guess his die-hard love for plants from his quote – “When you look at a plant, it’s like a mathematical problem and you have to find a solution.” Let’s take a look at his unconventional life.

  • Moved to the UK in 1963 and started experimenting with bonsai in 1967.
  • Also worked in the UK Electricity industry and as Energy Policy adviser in the UK Department of Energy for just over twenty years.
  • Gave up his 9-5 job in 1986 to turn his hobby of bonsai into a business venture.
  • Advised Prince Charles on how to set up a Japanese garden!
  • Has won 16 Chelsea medals (considered the Oscars of the gardening world.)

He’s also published several books on Bonsai, holds workshops around the world, and owns one of the largest nurseries in the UK! So, if someone ever tells you passion can’t give you money, tell them about this guy. find success

Bedabrata PainScientist, Film Director, Producer, Screenwriter

Bedabrata pain 5 IITians who went off the beaten track to find success and passion

IIT, Kharagpur – Electronics & Electrical Comm. Engineering (1982-86)
Columbia University, New York – M.S and Ph.D in Applied physics (1992)

Ok, so Bedabrata didn’t dive straight into film direction after graduation. But just look at what he accomplished on both sides of the grass to find success.

  • Joined NASA in 1993
  • Was a member of the team that invented the CMOS image sensor which has been inducted to the US Space Technology Hall of Fame
  • Has 87 invention patents to his credit!
  • Was the executive producer of the award-winning film Amu in 2005
  • Left NASA in 2008
  • Directed Chittagong starring Manoj Bajpai, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and others. Won the National Film Award for the Best Debut Film of a Director for it

Incredible isn’t it! How many folks leave their jobs at 45 to start fresh in a totally alien industry? I say the folks that are driven by unstoppable passion and true grit. Go here to get more of his awesomeness.

Vijay MahajanSocial Entrepreneur

vijay mahajan 5 IITians who went off the beaten track to find success and passion

IIT, Delhi Electrical Engineering (1970-75)
IIM, Ahmedabad (1979-81)

Vijay’s passion for uplifting rural areas and fighting against poverty ignited when he was a sales executive with Phillips. It was while touring Guwahati, Bihar and Orissa on the job, Vijay saw extreme poverty. Restless and wanting to do something about it, he took the road very few dare walk upon.

  • Founded PRADAN (Professional Assistance for Development Action) in October 1983 as a non-profit society – inducted a number of young professionals from the IITs, IIMs and top agricultural universities to solve rural issues
  • Established VikaSoko – Their first client was His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Government-in-Exile in Dharamsala, whom they worked with to produce the first Integrated Development Plan for the 120,000 Tibetan community in exile.
  • Currently, he’s the CEO of BASIX, which works for livelihood promotion of low income households in over 20 states in India and six developing countries.
  • Was member of the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms, chaired by Raghuram Rajan
  • Has been an advisor to the Planning Commission, Sikkim, MP and many other states

Seriously, he’s done so much in his career that I’ll just direct you to his wiki page. Go dive in the awesomeness of a true champion of the rural India.
Okay folks, this is where the list ends. But fortunately, the list of IITians who took an uncharted path to live their dreams is pretty long.

So, if you want us to bring more such inspirational stories to you, just holler at us below in the comments. Now, one last thing…
Listen up, IIT folks – Did you notice everyone on the list had one habit in common? The habit of Never Settling. So, if your current job profile or salary offered during campus placements feels like a compromise, don’t settle!!


That’s why we want to invite you to the India’s first and biggest online placement event for final year students from Tier-1 colleges – Un-Campus Placements. Placed or not, Un-Campus gives you the freedom to explore as many companies you want for better profiles, better salaries and everything in between. Know everything about Un-Campus in 2 minutes here.]

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