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Management gurus’ new high

Nalin Khanduri and his three ex-classmates quit their fat pay packets in MNCs to start their adventure corporation Great Indian Outdoors, reports Vimal Chander Joshi.
Hindustan Times | By Vimal Chander Joshi
UPDATED ON OCT 07, 2007 03:25 AM IST

Management graduates from premier B-schools have a knack of scaling great heights. But these four graduates from the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) gave new dimension to “great heights” after they turned their penchant for mountains into a full time profession. It was indeed a difficult decision for Nalin Khanduri and his three ex-classmates, who quit their fat pay packets in MNCs to start their adventure corporation Great Indian Outdoors.

NMIMS brought these youngsters together from different parts of the country and they realised all of them shared the same passion. Nalin hails from Dehradun while Bhaskar Thyagarajan, R. Balakrishnan and Tamal Bhatia are from south India. “Right from childhood, I was fond of mountains and outdoors and heavily indulged in such activities. While working with Reliance, Mumbai, I was dissatisfied by my job and felt I was meant to do something different. The high mountains and rivers were my real calling,” said Nalin.

Surprisingly, none of them are trained rappellers or mountaineers and this has added to the zing of such expeditions. They find pleasure to have made the mountain peaks and rivers their new workstations.

Bhaskar shared one of the most memorable trip with HT. “Last year during Christmas, we went to Kedar Kantha and climbed upto 4,000 metres where nobody (not even the shepherds, as they tend to scale down the mountains during peak winters) was present on the hill besides our team.”

When Nalin set the ball rolling in 1999, the other three followed suit within a year. “We started with one computer and there was an investment of Rs 5,000 initially. Seeing the excitement and stimulating work, my friends also joined the fray,” says Nalin.

They couldn’t stay away from managerial policies for long. Within three years of starting the business, they started imparting corporate “outdoor” training to big corporate houses. The style of training is innovative, as they use tools like music, theatre, movies and art in the cool ambience of Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand to teach soft skills. “We screen useful clippings from sports or war-centric movies like The Last Samurai, which inject team spirit. Later we conduct group discussions on the clippings to stimulate self learning process,” Bhaskar says.

Likewise, travellers are taught basic theatre skills and asked to suggest ideas to churn out a play with everyone’s contributions.

Having crossed a plethora of heights, these young men believe there still is a lot more to explore. They believe adventure in India is in its infancy and a phenomenal turnaround is yet to take place. One such indulgence is mountain biking. “In Canada or America, 60-70 per cent of travellers use bikes for expeditions, a trend still to take off in India,” informs Nalin.

To relish such a thrilling life, one surely has to pay a price. These managers-turned-mountaineers have to stay away from family for 10-15 days a month. “My father is a travel freak and even at his old age, he travels more than me,” says Bhaskar. So, can we say it’s all in the genes?

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