Shweta Punj is a business journalist, a television host and a social entrepreneur. She has worked with big houses like CNBC TV18, Inside Washington Publishers, Bloomberg UTV, and NewsX. A two-part series authored by her on outsourcing was nominated for the ‘Best Business Story Award – North America’. She is also the co-founder of the New Delhi-based research think tank The Whypoll Foundation which runs India’s first public service and governance feedback social networking domain www.whypoll.org. She is also the author of the book-Why I failed?
Here are a few excerpts of the interview about her fascinating world of Journalism!
Welcome to Twenty19! It’s an honor to have you as our mentor today. You have been a business journalist, a television host and a social entrepreneur. Juggling so many roles, has it been difficult and can you tell our readers the inspiration behind your success?
Shweta: If you think about it, each of these roles are inter-related, so it hasn’t been difficult. I write on governance and policies, Whypoll seeks at making governance more transparent and my television work is an extension of my work as a journalist. What keeps me motivated is the fact that I genuinely enjoy what I do, and as a Journalist you are required to constantly learn and un-learn. So you never really do “more of the same thing.” Every story is a new and every experience is enriching in its own way.
Did you always want to be a journalist?
Shweta: Yes, I knew very early on in my life that I wanted to be a Journalist. Reporting untold stories has always intrigued me.
You have been with several news organizations, what has been your experience?
Shweta : Every job or opportunity will teach you something. As you get out of school or college, you wouldn’t get a teacher-student relationship. Your colleagues and your experience will be your teachers and it is entirely upto you on what you make of every opportunity and go on to apply those learning in your career.
The book you wrote – “Why I Failed” has been really doing well. What was your role as a writer?
Shweta : The need to succeed is constantly drilled in us from very early on in our life. In India, especially, there is just too much disdain and discomfort associated with failure. Through the book I wanted to generate a conversation around failure. Because the fact-of-the-matter is that failure and death are perhaps the only two constants in our life. The book chronicles 16 stories of leaders who have experienced heartbreaking failures and have used those experiences to build and create. I think, as you read the book, you will find yourself in these stories.
The face and the person
There are a few start-ups in India such as Twenty19 which are promoting internship culture among undergraduate students. Can you highlight some of the advantages of such internships?
Shweta : Internships are fabulous way to identify what career path is ideal for you and what you enjoy doing. It is a great way to get exposure and know exactly what you want. It also helps you analyze on how much you have to push yourself in a particular job or in a particular field that you want to delve into. My internships were testing grounds. I got an idea of where I should improve, what interests me, and what I should focus on. It is a great way to orient yourself with the real world.
Did you have any internships from back in college days?
Shweta : Yes I interned at a few places. Every internship I did, I took away something constructive from it. My first internship was when I was at school. I interned for the show ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ hosted by Rajat Sharma which not only gave me the first exposure to the media industry but also a great insight on how you put together such an elaborate show. I have interned at The Pioneer and Zee News –and have some wonderful memories of those days –it’s during that time that you really work for the love of what you do.
What word of advice would you want to give to the current generation of college students for decisions in their career choices.
Shweta: The world is literally your stage, don’t over analyze, just do it.