The three Fauji Entrepreneurs, driving India Inc 30 Jun 2009, 0226 hrs IST, Yasmin Taj, ET Bureau In the recent times, old soldiers don’t fade away into early retirement; they go into business. Many ex-defence personnel have chosen to walk on the entrepreneurial path and have achieved overwhelming success in their respective fields. Army fosters leadership For Lt. Col H.S. Bedi VSM, CMD, Tulip Telecom, following a three generation old family tradition of joining the army came as a natural choice to him during his formative years. But today, he is a successful entrepreneur. ”The ‘seeds’ of entrepreneurship were laid in 1986 when I was posted as an instructor in the computer wing of the Military College of Telecom and Engineering (MCTE). MCTE offered me a platform to interact with a range of businesses for the arrangement of student training programmes. That was the time, when I realised my inclination towards entrepreneurship. After 22 years, in 1989, I decided to move on to the next level in my life and in 1990, I put my ideas firmly in place to start my new venture,” expresses Bedi. But the transition from armed forces into the Indian corporate sector was never an easy task, keeping in mind the differences in both the sectors. Bedi had to face his set of challenges too. The period between 1995 to 1999 was really tough for me as getting adequate working capital to meet the business requirements was a serious challenge,” he states. Bedi feels that a job in the army offers new challenges everyday and you come across various new situations on a regular basis. “The army fosters leadership in every individual that focuses not only on short-term results, but also on long-term requirements to improve the organisation. I firmly believe that army men are perfectly blended with the latest hi-technology, training techniques and strategic doctrines that help them to excel in various avenues,” he concludes. Army brings in discipline After 36 years of service in the Indian Army, Major General S Dutta VSM (retd), Chairman, Marine Solutions, Distribution and Services, Pvt Ltd suddenly realised that though he had a wonderful life in the army, he also had an empty pocket at the end of his career. “I had made up my mind to carry on working after my retirement from the army,” shares Dutta. After a few stints in the corporate world, Dutta ventured out on his own. “Being a yachtsman and having a son who also is a very good yachtsman, we decided to start a company selling luxury yachts. We formed the Company Marine Solutions in 2003,” he informs. Talking about the transition from army life to corporate life, Dutta expresses, “One good aspect of military training is that it prepares one for all circumstances. I had no problem transiting from army to civil life. I was the Commandant of a training establishment in Vadodara. That coupled with my training in management in the US and IIM Ahmedabad made my task of setting up the PMDI of IPCL quite easy.” Dutta says that coming from the army to a civil life is not a challenge. All challenges are left behind. “If one keeps following the army traditions in civil life too, one will get better appreciation and respect. The corporate sector respects army people for their discipline, honesty and leadership qualities,” he adds. But an army man does need some kind of grooming before he enters the corporate domain since he needs to keep himself abreast with the latest trends. According to Dutta, “Frankly, not much grooming is required. On the contrary, the armed forces personnel should not forget the grooming they have received in the past. Re-skilling is certainly required. In an armed forces career, the skills imparted are mostly specific to the armed forces’ needs.” Army instills focus For Lt. Colonel Dharampal Balyan, owner, Health & Harmony, his keen interest in health related issues led him into entrepreneurship. “While I was in the army, I was interested in my own health. When I retired, I met someone who was teaching naturopathy, and since I was already keen on learning about subjects related to health and health related studies, I decided to get some formal education. After studying the same, I decided to start a naturopathy centre called Health & harmony in Noida, which looks at nature and its elements for treatments,” he expresses. Talking about the kind of challenges he faced in his journey, Balyan says, “Getting people to believe in natural system of healing and turning to nature for healing was the most challenging task.” Balyan concludes by sharing a few lessons that he has learnt from his army background that has helped him better his prospects in the corporate domain and says, “Devotion, discipline and total commitment are a few qualities imbibed in me and these have helped me in my corporate life too.” With their immense courage, discipline and leadership acumen, these Fauji entrepreneurs have shown the way to many!