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An interview with Mukta Darera, Founder of iReboot, a life orientation company which helps people discover themselves and their true career calling.
Interview by Aparna V. Singh
Mukta Darera started iReboot in 2008, to help people change directions in their lives. Here she shares her experience with helping people re-look their lives and identify new career directions.
Aparna V.Singh (AVS): Tell us a little about yourself.
Mukta Darera (MD): Born and raised in Mysore, I am a firm believer in second chances – a concept that is the very foundation behind the initiation of this company. I graduated in Electronics & Communication Engineering from SJCE, Mysore and soon became part of the prestigious Intel family; the place that triggered my thoughts to build a world where people can “reboot” from where they left off. I later went on to an entrepreneurship program at IIMB, where the seeds for iReboot were sown.
As for my passions, I’ve been lucky enough to be all of these – travel guide, tutor, examiner, drummer, theatre actor, anchor, voice over artist, radio jockey, master of ceremony and a Kathak dancer. I have always believed that there is really no limit to how enriching one’s life can be. And the choice to enrich one’s life is in the hands of each and every individual.
AVS: What in a nutshell, is iReboot about? What really is “life orientation”?
MD: iReboot is a platform where any individual can explore a career, nurture a skill or take forward their passion to the next level through a series of structured workshops, mentoring sessions, projects, volunteering and internship opportunities. The focus is on areas which have still not been given mainstream importance in our system – for e.g. photography, travel writing, starting your own restaurant, stock trading, etc. There are upto 20 such offbeat areas that we cater to.
AVS: How did you come up with the idea for such a service? Were there any worries before starting?
MD: Having seen more than 70% of the working population feel trapped and bored in their jobs and most of them adjusting to the frustrations of their jobs to such an extent that they barely recognize themselves, I decided to quit the corporate world and do something about it.
Inspired by two powerful quotes – Robert Noyce’s, “Do not be encumbered by history. Go off and do something wonderful” and Steve Jobs’, “You’ve got to find what you love… if you haven’t found it yet, don’t settle and keep looking”, I felt it was time to empower people to live a life they love.
The obvious worries of leaving a secure future in a cushy job were overcome instantly by the excitement of being able to make a meaningful difference to people. It started off with a few closed group trial sessions, and in August 2008, iReboot was born with its first paid workshop – Wildlife Photography.
AVS: What kinds of people attend iReboot programs? What are the motivations that get them there?
MD: Anyone with the following intentions – career exploration, career guidance, getting back to work after a break, looking at a career crossover, turning a casual passion into a paid hobby, learning something new. In terms of the audience we have had a wide mix of participants, right from – students, working professionals, home makers, senior citizens and even people on a career break.
AVS: What sort of programs are most in demand? Is there any difference by gender here? Are there programs that you’ve added on based on what people want to learn?
MD: Our most popular programs are – Photography, Discover Yourself, Start Your Own Restaurant and RJ/Voiceover. We have not noticed a clear trend in terms of gender preference.
Over the past 3 years we have organically grown the number of courses from 4 to 20, some based on demand for a specific program, and others that we have felt no one was catering to.
AVS: How do you help people understand their true potential or dream career, especially in cases where they don’t have a clear idea of what they are looking at?
MD: We have a program called Discover Yourself which addresses this specific need – we have participants who are typically confused about where they are headed, or have too many choices and are unclear on how to narrow down, or just need validation. This program helps through a structured set of assessments, group behavioral exercises, guided introspection and one-on-one counselling, and helps them build a career plan through which their goals become clear and well-defined. Apart from this program, we have also started offering personalized career planning services which are more elaborate in nature and also include plenty of industry interaction before a career plan is arrived at.
AVS: Do you have any idea on how many of those who’ve passed through iReboot programs have made big changes to their lives or actually gone through a career change?
MD: We have had more than 2500 participants so far, out of which 50% have gone on to make their passion or new found skill-set a more integral part of their lives through assignments, freelance projects, or more frequent involvement in their passion. Over 10% of them have actually gone ahead and crossed-over to a career of their choice – in most cases, this was because they successfully overcame constraints like fear of failure, financial commitments, family commitments, etc.
AVS: What next for iReboot?
MD: Lots of exciting plans ahead for iReboot 2.0 – online counselling, e-learning, collaboration with institutes, corporate programs & events and expansion of areas for career exploration.
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