Sandipan Deb : From Management to Journalism
“I was working in advertising and financial services and doing fairly well, but I got bored. I was still 26 or 27 and I didn’t want a situation where I would be a 40-year-old general manager selling chocolates, etc. and look back and say oh shit, have wasted my life.”
The thoughts of Sandipan Deb explain a great deal about the kind of person he is; many IITians are. He is one of the personalities who paused in their life for a while to think what they were doing. But the only difference is, he also showed the courage by choosing his own path while many others fill their life with regret at old age. Defying the peer pressure and ‘certain expectations’ which are associated with an IIT and IIM guy, Sandipan chose to pursue writing, which was his first love.
Career and life
Sandipan Deb is a trained electronics engineer from IIT Kharagpur (1986) and PGDM (1988) from IIM Calcutta. He is alumnus of Radhakrishnan Hall (RK Hall) in IIT Kharagpur which has produced other eminent personalities like Vinod Gupta, founder InfoUSA and Professor Prem Vrat, Director IIT Roorkee.
After three-four years in the standard MBA jobs in advertising and then in financial services in the ITC group, Deb had an introspective phase. He looked at all his abilities and wondered which was the one thing that he could do and enjoy the most, the answer he got was writing.
And since 1990 he has been active in journalism. Like his decision for his life he has been uncompromising in journalism as well, often faced with criticism.
Initially he worked with A&M magazine, where he spent four years. After that, he did a short stint with Business Today and subsequently moved to the Outlook Group. He spent 10 years there and was the founder-editor of Outlook Money. He was functioning as the managing editor of Outlook weekly newsmagazine in 2005, when he quit and joined The Financial Express (FE). He worked at FE for over 1 year 8 months. Subsequently he joined Open Media Network. Sandipan spent 2 years 10 months there before quitting in order to pursue personal projects and ideas of his own.
Deb is considered a pioneer in conceptualising the Open magazine. He put together a brilliant editorial team. “With ‘Open’, the work was so intense that I wanted some rest now. Now that the brand is established, ‘Open’ is in good hands.” Such has been his intent and contribution to journalism and the organizations he has worked with.
Sandipan also wrote a book ‘The IITians’ which was published in 2003. He spend 14 months writing his book – which as the subtitle explains, is, “The Story of a Remarkable Indian Institution and How its Alumni are Reshaping the World”. The book not only documents the stories of many successful IITians like Rajat Gupta and Vinod Khosla but also tries to explore what makes the IITians what they are.
For his views about IIT’s, he has often faced criticism too, as in his article ‘The Best of Worlds‘ in which he tells that many IITians live mediocre lives and give up their dreams for safe career choices.
Sandipan, in his work and in his life reflects the personality and spirit of a true IITian. Following words often refrain in my mind
“I think all of us have a duty to ourselves to figure out where we excel. It could be finance, it could be stock broking, and it could be tennis or wrestling. Every human being, I believe, has some talent greater than all his other talents and he should follow that. He should be true to himself.”