Wisdom Stories Ep.35: Shukla Bose

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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.

I have been in the corporate world for 26 years in the hospitality industry. I was a CEO of a large multinational company for 11 years before I quit and started an NGO with my lifetime savings, from my kitchen table about 20 years ago. My NGO is called Parikrma Humanity Foundation and we run schools for street, slum and orphaned children in Bangalore. I began with one school with 164 children and 11 staff members. Today we have 4 schools, one Junior College, a Teacher Training Centre and have adopted 5 government schools. We are working with 2000 children directly in Parikrma and another 3000 children in government schools. We have trained about 5000 government school teachers who are trying to raise the level of learning in their schools.

We interviewed Shukla Bose, one of the honourees of 58 Over 58, a collaborative endeavour spearheaded by WisdomCircle and INK. The mission is to spotlight the narratives of 58 remarkable individuals annually, individuals who are meaningfully engaged in their post-retirement phase.

What was a key moment that defined your current path?

It was not a moment really, but a constant awareness that children from deprived backgrounds are being left behind and cannot live their lives with quality and dignity.

 How would you define your purpose? And why did you choose it?

The purpose of my life is to provide opportunities for poor children to live a better quality life. I believe that it is possible to change society by educating children.

What is your flex today? How is it different from a decade or two ago?

Today, my flex is my ability to balance a successful career with meaningful relationships and personal well-being. Two decades ago, my flex would have been solely focused on climbing the corporate ladder and accumulating material possessions. Back then, I measured success by job titles and salary figures, but now, it’s about fulfilment and balance. Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of holistic success and prioritising my mental and physical health alongside my career ambitions. This shift reflects a deeper understanding of what truly matters to me and a recognition of the importance of living a well-rounded life. I’m grateful for the journey that has led me to this point, and I’m excited to continue growing and evolving in the years to come. I now know the joy of just serving others.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Everything happens for a reason and it is important to be patient.

What are the current gaps in the post-retirement eco-system? Where is the pressing need for attention?

When people are a part of the workforce and busy with attaining success, they often forget that there is a life after work and therefore never prepare for it. Society too expects everything to stop when someone is not in the workforce.

What would your advice be to WisdomCircle, to help plug these gaps?

WisdomCircle should start having conversations with people who are about to retire and not only when they retire.

Why is leaving a legacy important for you? What would you like yours to be?

I am not sure I want to leave behind a legacy. I just want to do what I have to do.

 3 words that describe your life right now.

Energy, passion, and determination.

Read more Wisdom Stories on WisdomCircle

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