Nagrik Dialogue

Change is Constant, Changing is a Choice -Stories Of Change Makers

Series by Sandi Saksena

Every change also brings with it a unique opportunity one that we must grasp with both hands and understand fully to exploit’.

What is the connection/common ground in electronics , building a robot, banking, modeling, ramp choreography and beauty pageantry the answer is……

Payal Babla Shahu, the only child of her parents, born and raised in Nagpur, Bachelors in Electronic Engineering!

‘Don’t restrict your career and jobs based on your educational qualifications and core subjects.  You can make your passion your career as I have done’  was her answer to my obvious question ‘What are you doing in the field of beauty pageants and modeling when you have a bachelors in Electronic Engineering’?

She went on to say, “my favorite subject in school was Mathematics”, comparing it to life she says “It is simple & it doesn’t suck but we complicate it for no reason! The challenge the majority face is complexity of mathematics. However, all it requires is a logical approach to be able to solve the problem”.

 Following on her aptitude and passion for mathematics  it was a natural progression for her to pursue a Bachelors’ degree  in Engineering which she did from Shri Ramdeobaba College of Engineering And Management, Nagpur, in 2015. She chose Electronics because of her fascination and curiosity about microchip technology . She found it intriguing how our television, computer, smartphone etc. are reaching nanoscale.

As we all know Engineering is usually a male bastion so I asked her how many girls were doing Engineering course with you?

“When it comes to dreams there is no consideration of gender. There were 17 girls including me & 48 boys.  Socially, at the start, being surrounded by an overwhelming number of males was a bit intimidating. However, after a very short time, I adjusted, I really enjoyed  working with the guys as a team

How was your job search in the engineering field?

“I searched for jobs in my field,  in Nagpur widening my search in Maharashtra applying  for entry positions, however I did not receive any offers. Disappointed and frustrated by 2016, I joined a course of ASP.NET,  simultaneously preparing for exams in Banking. I was able to crack the bank aptitude test with ease. Eventually in January 2018, I got a job in a bank”.

Payal observes like her,  there are fresh graduates students who have already been in a classroom kind of learning environment for their entire life till date. However, the degrees that they currently have in engineering and other online courses does not guarantee them a job. She feels there is a strong mismatch between the frameworks/ skills required by the corporate world and the ones being taught to students. Talking about competition in the job market she says it’s quite similar  to competing in a beauty pageant, you are judged, compared, with your cohorts and the best one wins. The difference being a title opens doors, gives you publicity and opportunities come to you, You stand out whereas in a corporate job you subdue your personality and must fit in!!!

To my question when did you get interested in modeling, the answer was as expected!

 “Though focused on my studies and job, like most  girls, I would also dream of participating in a beauty pageant at least once! My parents and my mentor Imran Sheikh encouraged me to audition.  I believe in being prepared, planning and accuracy I guess it’s my educational training, so I  joined One Direction modelling institute, after 2 months of dedicated training and NO it was not easy, I auditioned for Miss DC India 2019 and cleared that hurdle!  27th April 2019 I was declared a Miss India DC Brand Ambassador 2019 in addition I was awarded the  subtitles  Miss Glamorous  & Miss All Rounder.

I have not looked back, opportunities started flowing to me, as a jury member for national beauty pageants, and a career as a model.  The runway became my launch pad, I participated  in various fashion events walking  as a showstopper for many celebrity fashion designers which included the showstopper with Mr. World Rohit Khandelwal in 2020, the same year I was awarded best of model by Actress Mugdha Godse and, I got my first project as a Fashion Choreographer for Mr. Miss & Mrs. India Globe 2020.

Do you feel your educational degree is of no use?

“No, I don’t think my educational degree is wasted. For me education is about expanding  horizons, training the mind, inculcating discipline, being goal oriented achieving success in whatever I choose. Education is always on going , it does not end with a university degree! I feel real education starts after college when we start implementing what we learned i.e. theory to practical. My  studies in engineering transformed me completely, by expanding my thinking  and personality. I  learned  management, effective communication, the ability to spot opportunities, strategizing planning, precision, executing with perfection, patience, ethics!  All these things helped me be a professional in the sphere of  fashion and pageantry. Being a model is no joke, what matters most is consistency & it doesn’t come in a day or two, it takes months and years of hard work and discipline  

Do you listen to advice of parents/elders even when that does not make you happy?

Parents intentions are always good and they want to choose best for you however, that might not always be what you want!

Consider your parents advice, but do your own research, to make an informed  decision on what is the best for you.

Career- living your dreams –  Determined to Reach Excellence and Motivated to Succeed

Everyone should pursue their dreams no matter what, and  in order to do that stop being influenced by others. Make your dream your goals. Develop the courage to take risks in your life.

Earning good money “Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Financial Independence  Allows us to make choices on how we spend our lives independent of financial constraints,  Have a balanced approach between pursuing future goals and being present today.

Importance of a mentor

A mentor helps you stay focused on improving your skills, self-confidence in developing your career.  My mentors are Imran Sheikh and Sufi Sabri

Plan for the future

 I will continue in the fashion industry, to participate in reality shows and international pageants.

How important is it to select, check out offers to model/contest in beauty pageants 

This is a no brainer ALL offers must be vetted  because there are many peoples who will try to make you to do things that you do not want to do. Don’t  be afraid to negotiate and ALWAYS have a written SIGNED agreement. This is where a mentor can guide you.

In conclusion Payal says,  ‘I strictly follow teachings of the Buddha’s “what you think you become, what you feel you attract, what you imagine you create.’



Nagrik Dialogue is the face of Nagrik Foundation’s communication skills that comes in the form of a monthly magazine. It will work as a bridge for those working at the grass roots level and those who support them in any form and manner.