Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Interview of Mr Reapon Tikoo, CEO, Powai Labs

                                          Mr. Reapon Tikoo(2nd from right) along with our team members

Q.How did an IIT education help you to meet your career goals? 

A.It was a good institute,in a sense that they offered us a lot of freedom,whether it was about expressing our thoughts  or doing or building something.I believe prime purpose of education is to set our mind free but ironically,it often ends up us compartmentalized to a narrow niche.For example,If I want to be civil engineer,I get confined to civil engineering or if I want to be a heart surgeon,I will have to specialize in heart surgery.The current model of education is more focussed on the ROI,people choose an educational field or an institute based on how 'marketable' it is.Instead of being interested in the process of learning,they want to get an IIM or an IIT brand 'tag' to adorn their resume which can help them in the job market.Education today has confined to placements and pay packages.This problem cannot be solved by the students.After all,this is what the society wants everyone to aspire for.An education today means sense of entitlement.For example,if want to an MBBS Doctor,I aspire that I'll wear a white gown,I'll make a lots of money, and everyone will call me 'Doctor Saheb' but finally you have to do something,solve problems..The children of industrialists are not studying here,nor do children of politicians.Most of us here are children of government employees or small traders or simply middle class people who see education as a way to enrich the quality of life.This is a very risk averse attitude,everyone wants a Mercedes or a BMW but they don't understand what it takes to be there.

Q.You completed your masters from The London School of Economics and Social Sciences.What would you suggest someone who aspires to attend this highly reputed institution?

A.If you can afford to pay the fees,you can simply pay and attend.You'll have to apply for a scholarship otherwise.Since my father couldn't afford to,I attended on a scholarship.It's as simple as that.
Q.What had you studied there ?

A.I had taken courses in a department called 'European Studies'.I had also studied labour laws and industrial relations.These colleges offer a lot of flexibility.You can choose which courses to attend.You are not bounded to a certain program or department.As I mentioned earlier,education actually takes us away from what we're really looking for.I would've ended up being insane if I had not studied there.

Q.Can you even select your teacher there?

A.No,you can't select your teacher though.

Q.You mentioned earlier that you had attended the LSE on a scholarship.According to a recent data,around 25000 students from 145 countries had applied for it and just 700 got selected.How your education at IIT helped you build your leadership skills as they mainly look for them?

A.I mainly learnt these skills from my father.I'll give all credits to him.

Q.What had they asked in the interview,anything specific about leadership skills?

A.I do not really remember what they had asked me but I had answered the same way as I'm doing now.They were more interested in knowing what I would want to do,about my possible ventures,how I would cope with a failed one,etc.

Q.What percentage of your "Wish List" has been completed?

A.I am really content with myself.I've no desires to be honest.I realised that whatever I had desired was not at all relevant.When I used to be a young boy,playing in the sun was really important but as I grew up,at some stage,It was quite important for me to meet to meet my fiancee.It depends,I mean your wishes change at every stage of life.What is relevant today may not be so tomorrow.I just do what I have to do.I am not afraid of outcomes.Wishes bring unhappiness,if you achieve something your happiness will be zero after it is fulfilled while in case you don't, you'll be unhappy.You'll be unhappy either way.Thats why I do not desire anything anymore.Perhaps a good night's sleep is the only thing I desire.

Q.Can you please tell us more about the research at Powai labs,specifically Image?

A. We've built a product which allows us to build a prototype of a processor.We've also built the first "Make in india" made in India chip which is right now being tested for the GPS of ISRO.

Q.When had you started your JEE prep?

A.Honestly,I haven't been a very good student.I've never been interested in academics.I've always been more interested about doing things.I was never a career-focused student.

Q.You've won a lot of medals in sports.Can you tell us more about your sporting achievements?

A. Yes,I was a state champion in cycling and I had crossed a lake,riding around 11.2 kilometeres.I've always been more into doing things.

Q.You had a key role with GTL limited.Why did you decide to launch your own startup instead of keeping up with your job?

A.Yes,I was doing quite well there.They were paying me a good salary but I wasn't feeling happy from within.You have feel good with yourself.You've to live with yourself,after all.You can get another job which is high paying but its not necessary to make you happy.Same situation arises at the time of your marriage or simply every step of your life where you've to decide between your happiness and the ideal perception of the world.Happiness is of utmost importance and is beyond placements or pay packages or simply anything.

Q.How was the experience at The LSE different from IIT Bombay?

A.You get to explore people from different cultural backgrounds,you get to know more about the world.Most people here tend to assume their cultural background to be the best but when you meet people hailing from different cultures,you realize how big the world is and no culture is better than the other.They're all different and they're all good.I believe there is more in common with humans than the differences over which they fight for.But there is more of gender equality in the western world and I think we won't go  a lot further if it is not brought into the picture.It'll have to come from men though, as women've always advocated for it.

Reporters: Varun V & Himanshi Kalra
Photographer: MNS Nishidha

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