‘Adversities always come with opportunities’

Doctor, entrepreneur, social activist, artist, Amit Wanchoo, a man of multiple aptitudes, has been able to bridge and blend these capabilities into a successful career traversing through a difficult terrain. He is the founder and CEO of SPACE Communications, the first Event and Sports Management Company in Jammu and Kashmir. Active in family-run pharmaceutical company, Eaton Laboratories and having the distinction of being a Paul Harris Fellow, Commonwealth fellow and SIP fellow, he as the founder and youngest president of Rotary Club in Kashmir initiated a wide range of social initiatives in sectors like health, tourism, literacy, art and culture.  GK correspondent Mudasir Yaqoob caught up with the change maker 

Dr. Amit Wanchoo recently and talked to him. Excerpts

Most memorable moment from your college days?
As the only Kashmiri Pandit boy in the college, I enjoyed being among the friends and teachers at SKIMS JVC. I remember how in final Biochemistry viva, an examiner from outside university was taken to task for asking me an irrelevant question. My HOD Samina madam reacted sharply to his statement. She was so furious with him and didn’t allow him to ask any other question. Finally, we had the viva but the strength that she gave me is till date with me. So, the kind of love and support my friends and teachers have showered on me in school and college has made my emotional bonding with my motherland very strong.

How did the transition from medicine to business happen?
I was posted in radiation oncology where we treat cancer patients. One night, a young patient with complicacies came to hospital who needed proper care. Since no bed was available, the only way out was private room.  I intervened and asked the officials to open the door of special room and allow patient to go inside till we stabilized him but they refused. Meanwhile, an influential patient suffering from minor health problem came and was allotted that room. It shook my conscious. I fought for the poor patient and succeeded in getting him that room till we stabilized him and saved his life. Next morning I resigned from the job as I knew I could not deliver in government sector and started my own enterprise.

Tell us about the journey of SPACE Communications?
I started working at the age of 16 when I was in 10th class. However, SPACE Communications was born in a Pediatric class of SKIMS, which was one of the boring classes and we would do all kinds of masti there. SPACE means Surely Pure And Complete Entertainers. The initial days involved all kinds of events but finally in 2008, I conceived the idea of an Event and Sports Management Company. It was very difficult in the initial phase to make people understand this concept. However, I am thankful to Bilal Bhat (than GM DIC, Srinagar) and Farooq Shah (than Director Tourism Kashmir) for encouraging me and giving me full support to make this venture successful. They would always say that we can see a vibrant entrepreneur in you, do your best. Today the result is in front of you. I am happy to see that what I started lots of youngsters are following event management as a profession now.

Event management was a risky business initiative, how did you manage to make it successful?
Success depends on team work. We have 10 member core team which works on planning, strategy and diversification supported by field team of 88 who deliver it on ground and 3000 artists. We made event management a diverse sector and have the credit of doing destination weddings, engagements, birthdays, award functions, medical conferences, music festivals, religious functions, tourism promotions, sports events.

What are the expansion plans of SPACE Communications and how will it benefit the state?
We are fortunate enough to have our offices and affiliates at all major cities in India and abroad. At present the new ventures include line production for films, TV serials, political management services and PR activities. All these initiatives will benefit the state because promoting from within the state rather than hiring outside executives has always been my preference and touch wood till now it has worked out nicely.

Right now you are a fellow with Harvard Kennedy School, what is it all about?
In this fellowship, emerging leaders were selected from all around the world and till now it has been a great experience. I have taken five majors in Public Policy Tourism Trends, Healthcare, Entertainment, Political Management and Entrepreneurship. I will be working with Harvard, Oxford and NUS Singapore to have the US, European and Asian perspective of these policies. 
And, after the course?
After the course I will be joining the advisory panel in United Nations, UNICEF, WHO or UNDP. Final goal is to devise an effective and progressive public policy in the field of health, business, tourism and social sector in my state of Jammu and Kashmir.

What is your message to youngsters of Kashmir?
Victim attitude will never help in life, it is better to bring in change that one can in restricted environment rather than cursing it. Adversities always come with opportunities but it is important to have energy for sustaining those adversities and identifying the right opportunity.