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Wisdom Stories Ep. 33: Lieutenant Colonel Atul Bakshi (Retd)

Cultural expectations surrounding the elderly are being challenged today, and with good reason!

While it was the norm to slow down and retreat into a quieter life post-retirement, more men and women are finding purpose and joy in doing the opposite.

WisdomCircle honours such men and women by shining light on their journey through an inspiring series called “Wisdom Stories”. These people have successfully smashed stereotypes, and their stories remind us that life should be lived to the fullest, no matter what age or stage.

A postgraduate from IIT and IIM, Atul Bakshi was born and schooled in Delhi.  His early life laid the foundation for a remarkable journey filled with service, sacrifice, and a relentless commitment to making a difference. Coming from a family rooted in strong military traditions, he drew inspiration from his uncles, who were part of the Indian Army, instilling a deep love and respect for the uniform. A pivotal moment occurred when his friend, the late Colonel Harpreet Singh, brought forms for both of them, to join the Technical Graduate Course of the Indian Army and also to explore Allahabad for SSB Interview. This expedition would introduce them to the city and celebrate a friendship that spanned through school, college and then the Indian Army.

Commissioned as a CSM with the distinction of leading the parade, Lieutenant Colonel Atul Bakshi’s journey in the Corps of Engineers unfolded with an unwavering commitment to providing engineering support to combat units. From the Independent Field Company to the adrenaline-charged Special Forces, the  Col’s military career was built with a deep sense of service and dedication. Operation Vijay during the Kargil conflict and his role in the Counter-Terrorist Operations at the Special Forces stand out as notable chapters in his military service. On pursuing his MTech from IIT Kanpur in Environmental Engineering, his subsequent assignments spanned diverse roles, from Staff Officer Planning, Grade 2 at Vishakhapatnam to Garrison Engineer at MES, where he meticulously overlooked intricate cantonment operations and maintenance as well as planning and construction of infrastructure and services. He was an Instructor in CME Pune and Project Director with AWHO.

Upon retiring from the army, Col Bakshi sought a dual purpose in his post-military life – caring for his family in Delhi and finding a role that allowed him to give back to society. He stood first in a six-month General Management Program at IIT Lucknow, which paved the way for inducting him into the corporate world. Facing an economic recession upon retirement added another layer of complexity. Still, the Col’s resilience and experience in the Army prevailed and he got a good placement.

He found a sense of purpose and made an impact at the Bharti Foundation post-retirement, where he spearheaded the Rs 100 CR Sanitation Program aligned with the Swachh Bharat Mission. Over 30,000 toilets bore testament to his effect on Ludhiana and Amritsar. Beyond this, his role encompassed overseeing school construction and maintenance and procurement/supply chain management. This twelve-year tenure was a testament to his dedication to creating positive change in communities. Thereafter to fulfill his desire to give back, he joined the Board of SOS Children’s Villages of India and Sharda Education Trust.

Atul’s military service has profoundly influenced his approach to life and work. He views the army as a way of life rather than a mere profession. The Army’s way instils many values like discipline, honesty, and unity. These values have seamlessly transitioned into his civilian life, fostering transparency, accountability, and teamwork in all his endeavours.

Beyond his professional commitments, Atul has found joy in various activities. A frequent traveller, he takes breaks every two months to explore new destinations. His love for sports, particularly badminton, tennis, and chess, provides him with a healthy outlet for recreation. Time with family holds immense importance for Atul, reflecting his balanced approach to life.

Atul’s unwavering commitment to sustainability and giving back to society shines through his initiatives, such as introducing building-as-a-learning-aid in-school constructions at Bharti Foundation and driving solar plants and compost vermiculture pits at SOS Children’s Villages of India. In the twilight of his career, Col Bakshi discovered WisdomCircle, a professional job discovery platform for retirees. The platform seamlessly connects seasoned professionals with meaningful job opportunities suitable for their lifestyle. With the help of this platform, Lieutenant Bakshi found a role with an established not-for-profit organization (Sharda Educational Trust) that was looking for someone to help grow the organization. Thanks to WisdomCircle, he continued his passion for making a difference and giving back to society, adding to his distinguished career. Through his experience with the platform, he mentions that ‘being able to apply for opportunities that suit a retiree’s lifestyle make engagement for the 50+ much easier.’

Lieutenant Colonel Atul Bakshi (Retd)

Read more Wisdom Stories on WisdomCircle

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