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The trainer of leaders

Ajay Dhanak turned his back on a world ruled by darkness to study and equip himself with skills that helped him gain expertise in leadership development

education Updated: Jul 13, 2011 11:10 IST
Gauri Kohli

Living in a village in Dehradun, Ajay Prakash Dhanak had a normal childhood - from going to school to playing with friends - until the day his world virtually went dark. Dhanak was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disorder, at the age of 14, which left him visually-impaired for life. Dejected and disheartened and dismal, Dhanak felt he had been left with no option but to resign to his fate.

“Just like other children, I also loved studying and playing soccer in my free time. But the illness changed my lifestyle completely. From being outgoing, I underwent a total transformation and became dependent on my family. It was the toughest phase of my life,” says the young man from Haldwani in Uttarakhand.

Slowly, however, having understood the gravity of the situation, Dhanak tried to put things into place and came to Delhi’s National Association for the Blind to train himself in braille and other computer software and hardware usage. He then enrolled at DPS, RK Puram, where he won a gold medal for all-round performance and scored 82% in Class 12.

A humanities student, Dhanak went on to pursue BA English (hons) from St Stephen’s College, Delhi University. “Literature honed my critical skills and helped me interpret situations differently. I became a good observer, started looking at things from different perspectives, became more patient and compassionate, developed good listening skills and became an avid reader,” he adds.

Dhanak then applied to Symbiosis Centre for Management and HRD in Pune for an MBA degree. By then, he had got into the habit of excelling on all fronts. “My stint at Symbiosis helped me discover unexplored areas. I gained expertise in HR activities and leadership development,” says the young man, who is very happy working as assistant manager in the leadership academy at Dr Reddy’s Labs in Hyderabad.

“I am visually challenged and this means there are things that I can and cannot do. The company has provided me with a lot of technical tools that make it possible for me to do writing based on audio inputs and outputs. There is a lot of support that enables me to go my way and do my work. My colleagues look up to me and are inspired by the way I conduct myself, which is very humbling,” says the 26-year-old.

Another quality he developed during his student life was the ability to groom talent into leadership. “The superiors always give you things to do that make you extend yourself,” he says.

Dhanak is a fine example of how roadblocks can transform into milestones. “Honesty, humbleness and perseverance have been the hallmarks of my behaviour. My father is my role model, the amount of effort he has put in to educate me is commendable,” Dhanak says.

A voracious reader of antique literary pieces, Dhanak gets excited by the idea of trekking and rock climbing.

His success mantra: “I always feel that if one can think big, and has unflinching commitment to one’s mission in life, the universe also conspires to make it happen.

See the bigger picture, things will follow!”