Unfolding The Mind Of A Visionary : Alpesh Patel
Girish Vaisyaraj | Dec 24, 2018
Starting from entrepreneurship to Artificial intelligence to consultancy at some of the biggest firms to authoring numerous books, Alpesh Patel has left no stone unturned after graduating from REC Rourkela in the year 1994 from the Department of Electrical Engineering. In a recent interview he shares his journey so far and his vision ahead.
Monday Morning: Tell us about your days before joining REC Rourkela? What memories do you recollect and cherish today?
Alpesh Patel: I had been lucky enough to have a great experience of mini-engineering right during my stay in the boarding school. It helped me gain exposure to technical education and subjects like Engineering drawing, Mechanics etc. Since it was a boarding school, I missed my parents to some extent but that didn't hold me back from making friends with whom I would make memories that were to be cherished for the rest of my life.
Team MM: how did REC Rourkela happen to you? How was the experience?
AP: There was no JEE during my time and admissions to RECs were based on post-matriculation marks. Since my dad was from REC Nagpur he approved of me studying in REC Rourkela. The experience was worth remembering, especially with a number of extra-curricular activities like table tennis and fests like spring fest in which I actively participated. It gave me a chance to know our country better since it was the first time that I had come out of my state, Gujrat.
Team MM: Describe your experience in pursuing Management at SPJIMR? Why did you incline from a core engineering discipline towards Management?
AP: Post my engineering I got placed in a company called Ispat Industries (now known as JSW steel). I was applying for top B-shools in the country in an attempt to upgrade my skills and prepare myself for a bigger role which is why I pursued my management at SPJIMR.
Team MM: Describe your experience of being a consultant for a Big4 company for 15 years. How challenging and exciting was it?
AP: I was one of the first guys to be placed at a consulting and audit firm K.P.M.G. After that I joined Ernst and Young which was a similar firm but I had a senior role to play in it. I then worked in Deloitte with some of the best operates and Chief Executive Officers.
It was definitely challenging since I had to advise people who were much senior to me and there were people who would tell me that my age is as much as their experience in the industry! So, one has to be very sure about the knowledge they have. It helped me nurture my skills to handle the seniors, the politics in the organisation and it allowed me to excel in the most challenging moments.
Team MM: Please tell us about your entrepreneurship experience?
AP: I had two ventures with which I was associated with, one startup was based in the area of Tele-Medicine wherein we set up a mobile-based application where people from smaller towns could conference live with the senior most doctors. I got to learn a lot of things from this venture such as public management, business model, team management skills etc. It failed for some reason but I certainly do take pride in this venture because of the vast variety of things that I got to learn. At present, I am working in another venture which deals with artificial intelligence and robotics automation and its really doing well. We have some of the best data scientists who have been doing cutting-edge work.
Team MM: How can a budding entrepreneur who also happens to be a student balance both of his lives?
AP: I was a student when I started the telemedicine venture as well. My advice to all the budding entrepreneurs will be that whatever subjects that are being taught in the class shouldn't be undermined but the students should also pursue their passions and chase their dreams. It’s okay not to top the class but you should pursue your goals by all means because you would learn equally from them as well. That said, do not neglect your professors and classes.
Team MM: How do you see artificial intelligence within the next 10 years?
AP: The scope for its development is vast. It is going to be the next big thing without a doubt. It is no more just theoretical as it has turned into a reality which is a must for any company that is set up nowadays. It will just turn into a basic necessity like electricity, internet etc in the coming years. It will have applications in all fields of technologies and help human race unfold many unknown chapters of the universe.
Team MM: Do you think that Artificial intelligence can be a threat to the future of life and human existence?
AP: I don't think so. Can it be a threat to human employment? Not much. Can it be misused for terrorism? Potentially yes because the right technology in the wrong hands can have the worst consequences.
Team MM: How did you think of authoring a book? What is the story behind “Chalta Hai India: When ‘It’s Ok!’ is Not Ok”?
AP: It started in 2014 general elections which had an environment of inefficiencies of people and every channel and group spoke about this term called “Chalta hai”. I couldn’t figure out why everyone was seeking to be okay with the status quo and randomly say “chalta hai”. So, I gradually got interested and fascinated by this subject, which is when I decided to write a book on this. It went on for three years for the research and interviews that I conducted when I finally formed a hypothesis. There are two books which I have already written and my third book based on cricketer Yuvraj Singh is a work in process.
Team MM: How do you think that the young minds of the nation can help in changing the ‘Chalta hai’ attitude?
AP: I have recommended a few things based on my analogy in my books. We are a nation of people who are historically thinkers, debaters and great intellectuals. It has gone down in recent centuries. The problem is that when it comes to implementing this idea we are pathetic. No idea is worthy without a perfect light of execution. We need good planners and have to improve the implementations. So, we should focus more on doing things. We should take up challenges and not just limit ourselves to classroom theories.
Team MM: What advice would you like to give to the present students here at NIT Rourkela?
There is a lot that India needs to do still in terms of all forms of development. Start early by doing things. Take up projects, do surveys about things you learn in the classroom. Do whatever you love to do, develop skills, manage the environment around you, people around you. Take up unconventional fields as well if you like it and try to make a difference.