Getting into the higher echelons of the famed civil services, particularly the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service, is hard enough.
Beyond executive power and responsibilities, working in the civil services comes with its fair share of perks as well. So, why would anyone leave a prestigious job and become an entrepreneur? Why take a plunge into another career that brings its share of risks?
For starters, there is the freedom to take your own decisions, particularly if the enterprise you are running is your own. Additionally, the civil services offer invaluable experience when it comes to starting a business venture.
Where else can you have the responsibility of governing lakhs of lives and employing hundreds by the time you’re in your late 20s?
Here are five civil servants who left their posts, to begin their own ventures:
1) Dr Syed Sabahat Azim
A 2000-batch IAS officer, this polymath and trained doctor, left the civil services to start Glocal Healthcare Systems in 2010.
With over two decades of experience in medicine, trained across diverse fields like self-help group training and infrastructure and financing from IIM Ahmedabad, Dr Azim served in positions as high as Secretary to the Chief Minister of Tripura.
Today, his startup seeks to offer the underserved greater access to quality healthcare services by setting up hospitals across small towns and villages.
2) Rajan Singh
In 2001, Rajan Singh was appointed the Police Commissioner of Thiruvananthapuram—one of the youngest ever to hold the post.
The 1997-batch IPS officer, however, quit the service in 2005 and enrolled in an MBA programme at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
After working for a global consultancy giant and a billion dollar private equity firm for a few years, he started ConcepOwl, an online platform with a website and application.
It helps young students from Tier II, Tier III cities, and small towns, who cannot afford expensive science coaching centres, to get into the IITs.
3) Pravesh Sharma
After 34 years of service, the 1982-batch IAS officer took voluntary retirement in 2016, to establish Sabziwala, a retail entity which sources and delivers fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers to consumers.
The objective of this startup is to ensure both consumers and farmers get a fair price. Before starting Sabziwala, Sharma had 18 years of experience in Indian agriculture, serving in positions like agriculture secretary to the Madhya Pradesh government and representing India in the International Fund of Agricultural Development.
His last significant responsibility in government was as managing director to Small Farmers’ Agri-business Consortium (SFAC) for five years.
However, according to the Economic Times, last year Sabziwala merged its business with LivLush (earlier known as Green AgTech) under a new entity named Kamatan.
4) Roman Saini
Roman not only cracked the AIIMS entrance exam at the age of 16 but also cracked the civil services in his first attempt in 2013 at the age of 22.
However, he resigned in 2016 before the formal completion of his training to devote more time for his education mission, co-founding Unacademy.
Today, it is among India’s fastest-growing ed-tech startups and one of the largest online learning platforms. Many civil service aspirants use this platform to prepare for their exams.
5) Vivek Kulkarni
Vivek Kulkarni has made one of the most successful transitions from civil services to the private sector.
For the 1979-batch IAS officer, who quit the services after 22 years, following his stint as IT and Biotechnology secretary to the Government of Karnataka, this was a step fraught with risks.
However, this was also the time when Bengaluru’s reputation as India’s Silicon Valley began to take hold. In the following year, he co-founded Brickwork India with his wife, Sangeeta Kulkarni. Today, it is a globally renowned knowledge process outsourcing firm that provides virtual assistants to global companies, according to this report in the Mint.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)