This is the first inspiring story of a series of successful career change stories that we will be covering going forward.
Introducing Neha Choudhary, founder of Making Waves which is a platform that profiles both upcoming and established entrepreneurs across various businesses in the Middle East. Over the last decade, the Arab world has experienced a rapid increase in the number of start-ups focused on creating innovative solutions in the region. Neha aims to bring us inspiring stories of visionary and talented entrepreneurs in this unique region, which people from a multitude of nationalities call home.
Let’s get to know her story…
Tell me a bit about yourself, personally and professionally. What makes you unique?
I am a born nerd. I have always been the girl who has tried to be an overachiever and a people pleaser (one of my weaknesses!). I am someone who does not shy away from hard work and hence, my first job was one which required me to dedicate my life to a company/job. I think what makes me unique is my versatility and my ability to do many different tasks with my own initiative and drive.
What is Making Waves and what do you want to achieve with it?
Making Waves is a video based web platform which profiles both upcoming and established entrepreneurs across various businesses in the Middle East. The larger dream and goal is to create a strong video content site which focuses on startup content in both Arabic and English for the growing market in the GCC.
What was the motivation behind switching careers? Why entrepreneurship and why now?
When I left my job at J.P Morgan, there was a lot to think about. The primary motivation of switching careers was wanting a new challenge and trying to build something of inspiration and value on my own. I was 25 when I quit, I had completed 3 years at J.P Morgan, I was living at home in Dubai and I thought this would be the best time in my life to take some risk. After looking at my situation practically and finding an idea I was truly passionate about, I thought this was the right time. The reason I looked towards entrepreneurship is because I believe life is about experiences, and I wanted to be involved in a new challenge which pushed me to my limits.
Where do you see Making Waves a few years from now?
A few years from now, I see Making Waves as a market influencer in terms of delivering strong content (news and stories) particularly based on the startup ecosystem. I want it to be a self-sustaining platform which contains content produced both in English and Arabic.
Do you think there is a viable market for this idea? Who exactly are you targeting?
Currently, there are a few market players that are focusing on written startup content. The market for video content has yet to be tapped, especially in Arabic. I have a clear target market – millennials in the region who need to be inspired with success and failure stories from the region itself.
How is life as an entrepreneur? What are some of the challenges you face on a daily basis?
Extremely difficult! The list of challenges is endless but for me, as a sole founder, the biggest challenge has been that of loneliness. I was used to working in a large team and a dynamic environment in banking. Now, majority of the times, it’s me alone at my dining table trying to push myself to do better work. This has been a big challenge for me as I am an extrovert and a people’s person, therefore, the change to working alone has been tough for me.
What advice do you have for other millennials venturing into new career paths?
Do it. Life’s too short to wait. For many millennials, they don’t have a family, mortgage, large expenses to pay, so it’s the best time to take a risk, however, make sure it is a calculated one. Don’t venture into something just because it sounds good or you’re trying to make a quick buck. Venture into something you’re passionate about and you can build a strong business model around.
A lot of people struggle to find enough support when they start out – what or who has been your biggest support? What is the one area you wish you had more support in when you were starting out?
As cheesy as it sounds, my parents have been the biggest support. As many entrepreneurs know, it is a lonely journey and the ups and the downs are amplified in this path. It’s important to have a strong support system around you to help you deal with these struggles and for me, this has been my parents.
One mistake I think I made was pursuing this career change without a co-founder. My ego came in the way, and I thought I would be able to handle everything (the over achiever in me!) I assumed I would find a partner along the way and it’s been a very tough process. A co-founder is important to have to share ideas and to have someone with you to understand the ups and the downs – I wish I had found my co-founder before making the switch.
How do you define success? What are you personally most proud of?
In my professional life, success is being able to work in a field you’re passionate about and gaining the means to sustain yourself.
Currently, I am most proud of the balance between my professional and personal life. This has been a long struggle for me and I think I am finally moving towards a healthy balance, one that I am proud of.
Finally, what are the top 3 skills that have helped you succeed as you made this career change?
- Ability to take risk
- Being a people’s person – not being afraid to reach out to people has been a big one!
- Time management
About the Author:
Samia helps millennials to know who they really are, and achieve what they are capable of. She is the founder of Direction Dose – Career and Business coaching for millennials. She’s an ICF certified career coach, NLP Practitioner, writer and speaker, based in Dubai. Having over 9 years of experience at Procter & Gamble in brand management and coaching; Samia knows what it takes for Gen Y to excel and succeed in their careers.