Women empowerment, doing something out of box, not following the herd are fancy terms we hear day in and day out in today’s world. We see many talking about it, several others expressing their desires to take the big jump but how many have actually had the courage to actually take the leap.
This is what people want, people talk about.. But merely talking has never taken anyone towards revolution nor will it take in the future. Stepping towards what you believe will definitely take you to your accomplishments.
And one of such accomplishments is emerging women CEOs. Starting something with a fresh innovative idea and taking that organisation, that enterprise to the heights of success has always been the work of men. Men have been mastering the business field so far but the revolution has already started and now women have also taken up this less travelled route for building their careers.
Say hello to our hero
With such high hopes for her impressive and social enterprise, today we would like to bring forward a promising entrepreneur who left her corporate career behind in May 2014 to pursue what she really loved doing. Born in Kurukshetra, Chandni Aggarwal was a school topper. Like any other topper, she too had to make a choice- either between medical or engineering and she chose the later one.
Neither Computers nor Marketing – She still had to find the real her
While she was in college pursuing her Computer Science graduation, she knew something was missing. Because she was left with no other option, she had to take this double degree course in engineering and MBA in Marketing which became really hectic and frustrating as she entered the 3rd year. Studying, going home in vacations, coming back and again studying –her routine became mundane. She didn’t enjoy it; after all it seemed so virtual to her.
She speaks, “I decided in my 3rd year as we started studying MBA first year subjects that I am not going to do any technical job or coding stuff; nothing from this totally virtual computer field.” So, it took her some time to realise that she wasn’t meant for engineering. Chandni then started exploring other career options. As her MBA was going on, her interest in economics grew and she started writing research papers in the field of marketing and economics. One of her papers got published in National University of Singapore, the other in Harvard Kennedy School and two others got recognition in other universities. But at the end of the day and even with the rewards of being recognised she realised this still wasn’t what we she was meant to do!!
Chandni’s first step to her real dream
Recollecting her past memories, Chandni excitedly speaks “I was always inclined towards travelling and discovering new things and finally in my 5th year, I found something I really wanted to go for. I found Emerge Conference happening in Switzerland (Oct 2011). I filled the application form without telling anyone and I got selected for it. I decided to go for it, so under the guidance of my college seniors, I convinced my college authorities to sponsor my travel for the conference.” This was how she found something that was really close to her heart!! Just at an age of 21, she got this life changing experience of travelling all by herself for the very first time. This gave her confidence and made her realise her inner passion for travelling.
“Travelling then became passion but going back to regular job always haunted me ”
After her Switzerland trip, Chandni applied for Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) conference hosted by Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. She had been waiting for it since a long time and finally she got selected. But everything comes with a cost and for this, she had to put her placements on stake. She even had to miss some of her MBA final examinations. But she was ready for all this because finally she was listening to her heart.
After Harvard Project came the International Youth Forum Seliger, one of the world’s largest youth forums in Russia to celebrate diversity, harmony and peace. She proudly says, “This was one of the best things I ever did in my life. Spending a week with people from over 150 different countries in camps beside river was like a dream. It pumped me to always follow my heart. This made me broad minded and changed me as a person.”
Then came another fully funded Malaysian conference, Global Start-up Youth. All these conferences in different corners of the world were truly a revolutionary experience for her and she finally started to believe in her passions and path for life. But in between these conferences, she also had to do a regular job of a researcher to run her livelihood. She hated that part of her life; working in an office, 9 AM to 5 PM, coming home, doing normal stuffs, spending weekends running household chores etc. She craved for enjoying her life to the fullest.
“Then came the Hollywood Dream and an important decision making too”
Chandni, by this time, had gained a lot of travelling experience. Now she was looking forward to her biggest dream – Semester at Sea. She opted for summer 2014 Voyage which was a 66 days long voyage on the ship, covering major European countries to experience their culture, people, cuisines and lifestyle. Chandni got selected for this ship voyage too. During their stay in the ship, they had acting classes which used to be her favourite. This experience also came with a big price of quitting her job. But she was more than happy to do so. “I really don’t have words to explain how I felt when I was there. It was something I was doing without pressure and that is what I have always wanted.” She even started blogging to share with the world her oh-so-fantastic travel experiences.
The emergence of Rural Odyssey
“After SAS happened, my friends had started sending out my resume even without asking me. Definitely they were concerned but I wanted some time to figure out things.” she speaks further, “During my sea voyage, I began to crave for more and more authentic cultural experiences, which I couldn’t find in major cities of Europe. But then we took a tour to one of Ireland’s villages and there it was, the realisation of the fact that if you wish to experience the true culture of a place, then go to its village.” This was how she co-founded Rural Odyssey to change the way India travels and with a motto to promote India’s rich diversified culture which is mostly grounded in our villages.
Innovation through travelling to keep Indian Culture alive
“Rural Odyssey aims to offer authentic cultural experiences to travellers by taking them to the naturally and culturally rich villages of India. Our guests stay with the local families inside their houses while experiencing their culture, lifestyle, beliefs, food, festivals, art forms, etc. This also helps us in generating additional livelihoods to those rural households”, she elaborates. In this way our culture will remain alive and the plight of farmers and villagers will also improve.
Being an Entrepreneur is a tough choice to make. What fuelled her initially?
She fondly says, “I love to travel.!! Some time back, I went for Jagriti Yatra with hundreds of other aspiring entrepreneurs. Jagriti Yatra is an ambitious train journey on a 15 day, 8000 km national odyssey to meet the role models – social and business entrepreneurs – of the country. It aims at building India through enterprise. Rural Odyssey has happened because of this only. It has made me closer to many other entrepreneurs. They act like a support system for me whom I can connect anytime I want; just like a family guiding me.
Piece of advice to the girls, the youth out there
“Take the road less travelled. Just don’t do something because everybody is doing or others think it is cool..!! Do it because you are passionate about it. That is what will fuel you everyday to never give up on it. Do it because you want to make a difference. Otherwise the corporate world is always there, ready to accept you. Never be afraid to try something new. Just think positive.”
To contact Chandni Aggarwal directly for Tours or to know more about her, connect to her at
For knowing more about many such inspiring stories stay tuned to http://www.clazzez.com. And yes if you have a story to share please reach out to us and we’d be more than happy to publish and let the world hear your voice.
Until next time, keep making the most of the talents that make YOU.