CT’zen Stories: Akshat Agarwal — From Local to Global – If I can, you can!

CT’zen Stories: Akshat Agarwal — From Local to Global – If I can, you can!

Everyone has a story waiting to be heard. We’re highlighting some of the amazing stories from within CleverTap — from our very own CT’zens — because we believe in the amazing people we work with everyday and want to share the exciting work culture that we’ve built together. Presenting: the CT’zens of CleverTap.  

Akshat Agarwal: In His Own Words

I was always one of those shy and reclusive children who happily loved disappearing into the crowd. This trait remained even as I pursued an engineering degree. I still remember a time when I had to give a presentation to my class with some faculty members. I was so anxious that my arms and legs began shaking, my heart was palpitating, and I was so nervous that I ran out of the room when the audience began asking questions about my presentation. I wasn’t equipped to deal with this, and this reaction happened again on several other occasions. Finally, when I reached my fourth year of engineering, and the fear only grew, I realized that I had to train myself to overcome it or it would continue to damage my confidence.

But it was a long journey that continued as I joined the workforce, and it began to affect my progress because being able to present the knowledge you have acquired is essential to growing professionally. 

The Power of a Good Cup of Coffee

The turning point in my life came at my second job. Two of my colleagues discussed the quality of coffee available in the office, and it wasn’t a pleasant discussion. I don’t know what triggered me then, but I picked up the coffee sachets from there, went up to the pantry, began hand beating the coffee, and added warm milk. I poured the coffee into two cups, went up to the two gentlemen in the cafeteria, and offered them the same. They were delighted with the outcome. I repeated the same process the next day, and many of my colleagues saw the effort and requested a cup of coffee. I began doing this consistently, and soon I was serving almost forty people. 

The pure pleasure on the faces of the people gave me a lot of satisfaction, and I began taking an hour out from my work shift and serving colleagues who were entering different shifts. I came up with an idea in this ongoing process, and I was happy to invest my time. I set up a donation box on my desk. I messaged and reached out to people saying that if they liked the coffee, they could donate an amount, which would be passed to an NGO serving the needy. After this, every month when I opened the donation box, there was INR 15,000-20,000 intended for the NGO.

Open Doors, New Opportunities

When the CSR department of my company heard of this, they were very supportive and offered to donate $1,000 for every ten hours that I spent on this activity. Fortunately for me, NASSCOM worked very closely with the IT Ministry. They were looking to nominate people with a background in IT who were working in the social sector to meet the prime minister. My organization selected my name because of my project making coffee and giving the donated funds to the NGO.  

As a result, I got an opportunity to meet our honorable prime minister of India in Delhi in October 2018. After that, I began looking into other opportunities to create awareness and came across a prestigious conference organized by Harvard University. I sent my story to them and, in 2019, was invited to be a part of the delegation representing India at the Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR). 

The conference was conducted in Kazakhstan. There, I got an opportunity to present the case study to the United Nations High Commissioner for ways that technology could be used to aid refugees in various ways. One idea (called METFUGEE) was to create an app that would connect refugees visiting dedicated clinics with doctors who could do a consultation via the app, from wherever they were located. This idea is now being implemented by companies like Tata, which provides online consultations. Another idea involved using technology to better track supplies and reduce theft which was an all-too-common problem at these clinics. 

From these experiences, my confidence grew. In September 2019, I approached TEDx with this idea, and the next month, I delivered my first TEDx talk and continued to do so. While doing public speaking and motivating sessions for college students, I also got an opportunity to work with students from Army Public School in Delhi. For this, I helped manage and support projects and innovative ideas that the students there were pursuing using science and technology. I continue to do this, and it’s a beautiful learning experience.

Growth, Dreams, and Opportunities

Currently, I am working with CleverTap as a Renewal Manager in the Sales function. My responsibility is renewing large volumes of customer contracts. My portfolio of customers is vast predominantly from one region but also includes others based on the requirement. This role requires consultative selling, communication, and presentation skills. If I had approached the role years before, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, but now all the experience that I have gained from the different public speaking forums helps me manage my conversations seamlessly. 

When I look back at the last five years of my life, I see a different person who is now positive, confident, and happier. I have indeed come a long way. The one thing that I did to overcome my obstacles was to implement the very advice that I was giving to others. I very consciously began working on myself, despite being rejected several times. I moved out of my comfort zone and started approaching people, assuming that I may fail but would nonetheless learn and grow from the experience.

If there is one message I want people to take away from my journey so far is a beautiful quote from Steve Jobs, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Go out there, pursue your dreams, take advantage of opportunities, and work hard because you will not discover the doorway leading to your goals unless you learn to knock first.

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Posted on June 22, 2022