One lifetime: Building a company…and then shaping the character of very young people — MukeshSharma #JeenaIssiKaNaamHain

Avinash Raghava


The character Aamir Khan played in the 2008-starrer, Taare Zameen Par, is not fictional. A recent experience has made me think along those lines.

I have a friend who I’ve known for more than 2 decades (going back to my NASSCOM days) but morerecently, after meeting him and seeing the kind of work he is doing, I am convinced that Aamir Khan’s character has a modern-day rendition.

Mukesh Sharma was always ahead of his time. At the turn of the century, he founded a company called QA InfoTech which was into software services, focused on quality engineering. We didn’t have too many such companies back then in India, and he, along with a few others, firmly established a niche segment that branched out massively in the years to come.

Back in 2004 when I used to run NASSCOM’s SME forum, I got to know Mukesh and soon we became friends. He was a very stylish gentleman, and his personality made a deep impact. That, he drove an Audi, may have added to the panache. Those days, the word “startup” wasn’t in vogue and not many such companies were profitable either. Under Mukesh’s leadership, QA InfoTech did rather well.

NASSCOM at that time was trying hard to connect the industry with academia, through their Industry-Academia program. And Mukesh was a significant contributor. He would attend every meeting and share his insights on how the expectations gap could be bridged. Once he hosted me at his office and I can’t even express what a warm feeling I had after the experience. Truly, a very generous host.

Even back then, I could sense his passion and the great love he had for students. He offered internships to many students in his company and provided the right exposure.

After a few years, I moved out of NASSCOM, but we continued to stay in touch. I think it was around 2019–20 when his company was acquired. Thereafter, we tried to stay connected but as it happens in life, our interactions became sporadic, with the passage of time.

Then last year, I started seeing his social media posts. They had huge traction, and he was always seen in the company of very young students. After ceding control of his company, I think it was in 2019 that he
started his school Prometheus.

His posts were inspiring and centred on his students. The exposure that
his students got was quite different from what we are normally accustomed to seeing in India.

He wanted to bring forward the idea that education wasn’t only through classroom teaching, and much of it was outside. Interactions with visiting faculty members, focus on sports and other extra-curricular activities were equally important in character building. If you read their homepage, the emphasis is on “inquiry-based learning and honing the overall personality of students”. This is a very powerful message for us in India where parents are fixated on marks alone.

Being a father, though my kids are all grown up, I found his ideas very inspiring. I reached out to him and congratulated him for undertaking a nation-building exercise and making a deep impact on society. We promised to catch up but again due to work-related engagements, it didn’t happen.

Recently, I moved to Greater Noida and was added to a community and saw someone who was called Mukesh Sharma. I had a hunch that this was my old friend, so I messaged him immediately.

He was delighted and graciously invited me over to his school.

I went to meet him. And it was a surreal experience, I can tell you. It felt like meeting Aamir Khan’s character in Taare Zameen Par in real life. He has an elephantine memory. He can recall the names of hundreds of students and tidbits of information about them. He has a unique bond with the students. I remember when I was in school, I was overwhelmed whenever I saw my principal, but not these kids.

Mukesh has built a culture where students approach him with ease, and they don’t even think twice about exchanging high-fives. He is not your quintessential “The Principal” with a capital P who maintains
distance. He is a friend to his students and takes a genuine interest in his people — teachers and staff.

Fashionably dressed, that day, he wasn’t in formal attire — clad in jeans and a T-shirt. But the effect he had on people was awe-inspiring. The teachers addressed him as Mr. Mukesh and the staff, as Sir. He
was friendly, yet respectful to everyone. And the best part — easily accessible.

He has created a fabulous infrastructure, and as he took me around the campus, I experienced a sense of marvel. He introduced me to his people and said that we have been friends for more than 2 decades.
It made me feel really good.

I asked him, what he had undertaken was a nation-building exercise, no less, so what was his motivation for doing so? He said, “Avinash, when I was growing up, I didn’t have a great infrastructure at school that was geared for overall learning beyond textbook information. This is a dream project for me, and I want to give back to society in a small way I can.”

Always humble, the man is a great example of where passion can take us. It’s also possible to switch careers late in life and do what you are passionate about.

I do hope, after reading this edition of JIKN, that some of you may start to think along different lines. It’s never too late to change direction, especially if the cause is noble.

Thank you, Mukesh, for inspiring so many people. And as I wish you great health, I hope many more people will take your path and help the process of nation-building.



Avinash Raghava

Building Community at @SaaSBoomi | Past: Community @ScaleTogether @Accel_India. Co-Founded@iSPIRT(@Product_Nation), @NASSCOM