When I met Sumit Deshmukh for the first time, he had assumed the role of a quizmaster. He asked some of us on the Brand Team to guess the name of the lyricist of the popular theme song of Jungle Book: The Adventures of Mowgli that aired on Doordarshan in the 90s. He sat with hands folded under his chin, grinning and shaking his head slowly every time we pestered him for hints. I hummed the song which spoke of underwear-donning flowers that bloomed in the jungle, but couldn’t guess the writer’s name to save my life.
“Gulzar Sahab,” he said, after we had all given up. The realisation that an Urdu-speaking veteran wrote a simplistic children’s song left me pleasantly surprised. In that moment, Sumit Sir, the Startup Head at Repos reinforced in us a lesson that we all know but often forget: never judge a book by its cover.
That single encounter was so fascinating that I set about gathering his story. I asked him how he came to find himself at Repos.
“I wasn’t working then. It’s not that I couldn’t find work. I often sat for interviews on a whim and cracked them. I just filled up my days reading and watching movies. I didn’t think I could conform to the rigidity of a nine-to-five job. Then one day I got a call from a friend about a content writing job at Repos. I immediately said ‘no’”
How, then, did he land up here?
“Well, my friend couldn’t arrange for another writer and called me back. This time, I agreed. They were only just beginning to develop the company website. The writing came easily to me. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do something this simple! I stuck to it. I have a hard time believing we came such a long way. The experience is simply gratifying!”
He says that he regrets not starting sooner but also recognises the importance of the time he spent in developing himself. “Without that, I probably couldn’t have made the same fulfilling journey that I did. Now I get to help others bring their dreams to life. That is not just professional development but a profound experience personally too.”
The biggest change that has come in his personal life recently is that he got married. He finds the experience interesting because he is self-professedly shy and his partner is outgoing.
I ask him if he has found a balance.
“I just got married, so I’ll get there. Like it is with every single thing in my life, I’ll not stop till I give it my best shot.”
This reminds me of something that he said when I asked him about how he excelled in school at a young age through sheer determination.
“You see, I decided early on that main top cheez banna chahta hu. I want to be the best, there simply isn’t another way.”
The conversations with him were as inspiring as they were fascinating. Perhaps, this is the drive that Repos looks for. If there is the desire to grow, help will make itself available in some way or the other.