From getting an MBA from IIM to quitting a cosy corporate life to become an entrepreneur, Iftkhar Ali is breaking all the barriers of disability.
“On the day of my convocation, when I received my degree from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta, the entire auditorium was applauding for me. I knew it was one of the greatest memories of my life, to be cherished forever,” recalls 36-year-old Iftkhar Ali, Founder of New Delhi-based ALIQAN Technologies.
Hailing from the beautiful city of Agra, life was not easy for Iftkhar, who was diagnosed with polio at the age of one. When it was time for him to make one of life’s most important decisions — choosing a career path — he was discouraged from aiming too high and denied admission into medical colleges because of his disability.
Today the founder of a two-year-old startup, Iftkhar even has it in him to employ someone who once told him even an MBA wouldn’t help him land a job.
Prior to launching his own IT solutions company, he had worked with HCL and TCS as a business analyst. He also worked with IMS India as Centre Operational Head and further went on to lead operations for another IT company for two and a half years. His entrepreneurial mindset restrained him from settling for a cosy corporate life, thus leading to the birth of a venture of his own.
Reaching this milestone was filled with hardships, with his disability being the most obvious one. Hailing from Agra meant career guidance was also hard to come by. When he approached a friend preparing for CAT for guidance, he was laughed at. Many around him said he wouldn’t get a job after MBA and that he should go for a reserved government job or open a medical shop instead.
Despite all the negativity, he cracked CAT on his first attempt and got calls from IIM Calcutta and Kozhikode, but unfortunately, couldn't clear the interviews. He joined University Business School, Chandigarh and repeated the preparation process, as a result of which he received calls from all six IIMs, ultimately choosing to go to Kolkata.
Disability is just a mindset
“I strongly believe that disability is a mindset and anybody who can dare to dream can work hard and see them turning into reality. To be able to make something for myself on my own and be independent has always been my agenda. My parents have been the strongest pillars of my life and they have supported me unconditionally and instilled in me the belief that I can achieve anything. My company is named after them,” says Iftkhar.
ALIQAN Technologies counts HCL, Wipro, Shiv Nadar Foundation, Allizhealth, The Football Link, Airwhizz, and the Indian Air Force among its clients. Iftkhar’s future plans include scaling up operations in services, launching two more product companies, and venturing into the education sector.
He hopes that our country realises the plight of disabled citizens and makes the environment more disabled-friendly by making places better accessible to them. His greatest desire is to assist the physically challenged by helping them stay focused, confident, and motivated.