A true adventurer at heart, Aditya had the opportunity to travel across Europe with his family at a young age doing day treks in the Black forest as well as overnight treks in the lesser Himalayas. This exposure to the outdoors was something he always cherished and after completing his Bachelor of Laws in India, a brief sabbatical took him to Switzerland where he completed his Masters of Business Administration in Hospitality & Tourism. Following his MBA, he worked as a management trainee with the hotel group, Aman, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where his passion for the outdoors and adventure grew exponentially.
Q. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your life before law school?
Life before law school was 22 years ago, so that’s a fair bit. I completed my ICSE at the Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai in 1996, and decided that if I got 80% and above, I would leave the school and go to junior college instead. Fortunately, that’s what happened and I went to HR College and did my HSC there. During this time, I really enjoyed playing basketball, hanging out with friends and going clubbing – something like a typical South Bombay kid would do.
Q. What was your inspiration behind choosing law? What was your law school experience like?
Well, my childhood best friend’s dad was a senior counsel back then and eventually became the Advocate General on shifting base from Mumbai to Delhi and has been one of the most prominent figures in law in modern times. His success and fame led me to choosing law.
All my friends who completed their ISC (12th Grade) went to the US or UK to study and so I decided I would also leave home and study elsewhere. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into NLSIU, but I did get into ILS, Pune, so that is where I spent my 2 years before returning to Mumbai to continue at GLC. Pune was great – I made some lifelong best friends there. Life was simple and frugal – enjoying the little things in life like bike rides with friends around the countryside, enjoying parathas at midnight and a bit of partying.
As far as the actual legal studies were concerned, I didn’t find them interesting at all. I had never failed at anything in my life and in my first year, I actually failed one subject and had to redo two exams a few months later. I realized that the best way for me to do well in law school was to learn things by heart and spit them out on the exam paper. This tactic held me in good stead and had I known earlier that this was the way for me to deal with legal exams, I could’ve been the university topper. If you take my grades of the two papers that I had to redo and combine them with the rest of my grades, I technically had the highest in ILS back then. So that lesson stayed with me and then, I was good to go for the rest of my 4 years of law.
Q. When did it occur to you that photography and traveling was your calling? How did that transition flow from law to entrepreneurship? What was it like setting up your own travel company, The Wayfarer Travel Co.?
After graduating in 2003, whilst working at the law firm Thakker & Thakker, I decided I needed a break and went skiing. I had seen some fantastic ski competitions on TV like the Winter X Games and thought to myself that we had such fantastic mountains in the Himalayas but no real ski resorts. I decided that I wanted to set one up and spoke to a career guidance counselor who recommended I study an MBA in Switzerland, specializing in hospitality and tourism management, and that’s what I did.
I was fortunate enough to have done a few trips outside of India and have always enjoyed photographing landscapes, so that has always been a passion of mine. When I got to Switzerland and met people from all over the world, the exposure I received opened my eyes to the possibility of travel. My first hotel job (back in 2006) with the exclusive Amanresorts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA, allowed me to travel within the Western United States and that is where my passion for the outdoors grew exponentially. That was also when I realized that large cities weren’t for me and being amongst nature was my calling. I met my beautiful wife in Jackson, who is from Peru, which gave me an excuse to visit South America in 2008. The rest is history as I’ve lived and worked in Australia, Peru, North America and India.
When I was in Peru in 2013, I had the opportunity to work as a Luxury Travel Advisor at a boutique Virtuoso Destination Management Company called the Peru Empire Co. This was by far my favorite job as I got to tailor-make itineraries for clients based on their interests and preferences. I had the opportunity to stay at some of the most luxurious hotels in Cusco and Machu Picchu and even took a 4-night cruise down the Amazon on the luxurious Aria.
The transition to entrepreneurship occurred during my time in Perth. I was Front Office Manager at the lavish COMO the Treasury for almost 3 years. In January 2018, my position was made redundant along with a few others and that’s when I said to myself that I had been so fortunate to have some amazing travel experiences that it’s now time I step up and do something for myself. So I took advantage of the fact that I was without a job and put my passion for travel into practice and started my own business.
It has been a great learning curve and I still have a long way to go. Having been a lawyer and setting up subsidiaries of global IT/Telecom giants it meant that it wouldn’t be a huge task to set-up my own small travel business. That, coupled up with the fact that the Australian government makes it very easy to set up a sole proprietorship, made it a no brainer for me to go ahead.
Q. A few years ago, you decided to take a career break. Did that help you pave the way for your travel and tourism venture? How can one, if they decide to take a career break, make the best use of it?
Yes, indeed, the career break of 6 plus months traveling Europe and the USA, spending good quality time in each of the places we visited got me more interested in getting into the travel space. As we ended our trip in Lima, Peru, it was fate as I got a job at the best Peruvian Destination Management Company which reaffirmed that I had to make my own way into the travel market.
I think traveling is one of the most important things I’ve ever done. You get to experience different cultures, people, places and take in the beauty that each place or region has to offer. Of course, it’s not always that easy and does require saving up of money to do so. I’m a planner so I ensure most details are taken care of prior to setting out on any adventure be it a career break or holiday. This is also a skill I use in tailoring itineraries for my clients. That doesn’t mean everyone should do it that way. However, some level of planning is required so that you can make the most of the time you have during such a break. Taking time out from the usual rigmarole of life is important especially in today’s context as levels of stress are astronomical. It’s also very subjective as not all of us have the means to take a career break. I’d recommend taking one if you have the ability to do so as it will get you to rethink and reset your internal clock. It allows time to contemplate and potentially figure out one’s path.
Q. What were some of the most important things you factored into making a life decision such as making the change from law to a career path purely driven by interests and passion?
I didn’t really factor much or overthink my decision to swap from law to hospitality and tourism. It was more so the fact that I didn’t get anything out of law. At the end of the day, there was no job satisfaction – I was not making anyone happy – neither myself nor others. When I started studying hospitality, however, I really enjoyed it. Also, when I worked at the Amangani, I saw the difference I was able to make to our guests by providing them with a unique and memorable experience and this in itself was rewarding. My time at the Peru Empire Co. consisted of truly memorable experiences such as getting to go down the Amazon in style, being put up and experiencing pure luxury at the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas and doing the lodge-to-lodge trek to Ausangate with Andean Lodges, which were life-changing experiences. All of the above led me to believe that travel and hospitality were now part of my life journey.
Q. Every career has its own ups and downs. How did you push through and deal with the challenges that came out of such a unique field switch?
The decision to switch from law to hospitality and tourism was a no-brainer. My boss in the last law firm I worked had certain peculiarities like making everyone work a minimum number of hours everyday regardless of whether or not there was work and other policies that were very off-putting for an independent rebel like myself, so that sort of pushed me over the edge to leave law. I knew something better was waiting for me. Having supportive parents has also been immensely beneficial. They have always given me the emotional, financial and friendly support through every decision of mine and I am eternally grateful to them for that.
Q. Do you think having a good knowledge of the law helped you in any way with your entrepreneurial venture? Were there any skills you picked up from law school, which you were able to use in your passion to create lucrative travel experiences for people?
Absolutely, being a lawyer has helped me in several ways including formal drafting of emails, letters and other forms of correspondence. Always coming across as professional is something I derived from law, which certainly distinguishes me from others in the travel and hospitality industry. It has also helped when we have rented homes around the world as I am able to read through the terms and conditions of contracts carefully and know in general what clauses to look out for. As mentioned above, in setting up my own business too, I knew I had to get it registered with the ASIC here in Australia, and was aware of the potential conflicts with other travel businesses that might have a similar name.
Q. Most of our readers would be spending about 5 years in law school which would make them hesitant to follow their passion upon completion of law school. What are your thoughts on making your interests and passion your career choice? Do you have any tips or parting messages for our readers?
I too went through five-plus years of law school, completed my Bachelor of Laws and then made the switch. Reflecting on my choices, I would tell readers to carefully evaluate their decisions and not just go in for a career based on money and fame as that is what I did, which probably wasn’t the ideal choice to make, given the current industry I work in. Whilst the law has held me in good stead and people always look up to me and the ‘brave’ decisions I have made, I think if I had spent more time in the hospitality field, I might have been a General Manager by now.
To contradict myself, I don’t live with regret, so I am taking this in my stride and I believe everything is a learning experience. I believe in living and enjoying the moment but simultaneously planning for the future. The universe has its plan for each of us so know that everything happens for a reason and we shape our own future.
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