Nagrik Dialogue

Change is Constant, Changing is a Choice -Stories Of Changemakers -Series by Sandi Saksena

Jyoti Chhabria – the Eternal student , Social Activist , Educationist , Serial Entrepreneur

Change is the basic law of Nature. If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t truly living our purpose of life. Change is required to find our IKIGAI, our purpose of life.

A mother of 2 grown up daughters Jyoti Chhabria is a trail blazer a source of inspiration and a woman who leads by example!

What kind of atmosphere did you grow up in

I was brought up in a traditional Sindhi household. Having said that, my dad insisted on speaking to my 2 siblings and me  in English, took us to English concerts and encouraged us to read English books. I attended a Convent  school in Mumbai. So, a bit of the Catholic culture was absorbed by way of singing hymns during the morning assembly and the school environment. I had to follow strict rules when it came to academics. Later I attended an all girl’s college in Tamil Nadu. I had an arranged marriage.

Were you interested in academics and did you have a dream to qualify in any particular field?

I desired to pursue  Medicine I was keen to  become a Doctor. However, I could not do so, despite scoring 89%, I missed the mark, as all the science seats were filled up. My hopes were dashed. I had no choice but to take Chemistry as that was the only stream which had one seat available in college.

Did this mean you had to settle for ‘second best’?

Not at all, being determined to excel in any field, I decided to pursue a degree in Chemistry and became the university topper and was felicitated with a Gold Medal for Chemistry in B.Sc. Not only this, I chose French as a second language in my college year and loved it immensely. I was awarded a Gold Medal in this as well.

Gold medalist in 2 subjects, did you have time to pursue other non-academic activities ?

I was an NCC cadet and part of NSS team. I also participated  in various extra- curricular activities and was the Student Vice President in College.

Have won several General Knowledge contests and other contests in college.

I used to teach students ( tuitions ) after my college hours in order to earn extra pocket money, so you can say I had a pretty full schedule! This is what  I enjoy being busy in fruitful activities.

Did you start working after graduation and was it difficult to find a job ?

I did find a job fast on the basis of my academic performance. I moved 3 jobs in a span of 15+ years.

The work atmosphere was conducive  mentally emotionally and financially I did not face gender discrimination and was rewarded on my merits .

As you were successful and financially secure in your corporate career why did you decide to change ?

After marriage, 2 children and pursuing a corporate career for 15+ years, I decided to revisit my dream and joined Alliance Francaise de Bombay.  I Learnt French and started teaching it  as a private coach and I also joined as a teacher in an International school.

By nature, I’m a restless person and don’t like to maintain status quo for too long .  Challenging yes, as  a mature student, I was in a class with the college going young people!  Yet I really wanted to pursue the course and so I made changes and molded myself, this went on for a year! 

Change is truly possible at any age as I have practiced it myself. I got a PGDBM in Human Resource Management and also Foreign Language  International Exam clearance after the age of 35. It is sheer determination and passion.  Age is no barrier if you are ready to make the changes in attitude and techniques.

Currently you are  CMD/CEO of Fashion shows in Mumbai. You are regularly invited as a Guest of Honour and Jury to various Beauty pageants across Mumbai and India. Corporate, educationist now fashion and pageantry ?

How did this come about ? Did you face any objections from family ? Were you nervous or intimidated ?

Let’s just say I’m young at heart and enjoy challenges  the bigger the ‘hurdle’ all the better ! My daughter’s friend is into modeling etc. and she sowed the seed in my mind to try my hand at this. Initially there was resistance and negativity about this. This was understandable as my family is conservative and quite traditional in their way of thinking.  Teaching and working in the corporate world was acceptable but not fashion beauty glamor pageants etc.  My husband was not in favour but I had support from my daughters and sister. However, my husband did consent and is now comfortable with my new projects.

I participated in beauty pageants I even went to Dubai a finalist in a Pageant for married ladies. Fashion shows  and Beauty pageants were a natural course after winning MIG Mrs. Timeless Beauty 2019 in Dubai. Opportunities presented themselves and I took them, going with the flow. This  has helped me evolve, grow, mentor and inspire others to follow their dreams during any stage in their life.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now. Many say that the fashion /beauty industry is ruthless and aggressive .. 

Yes, It is a competitive world. However, I believe in the Universal law of Attraction. If you are good and wish good, good shall come back to you in some form or the other. Opportunities come if you have a strong belief in your dreams.

Every profession has its share of challenges. It is best to look at them as opportunities for improving, learning and evolving to become more experienced, better versions of ourselves.

Financial stability what’s your take

Corporate world- it was a fixed paycheck every month. 

Fashion/ Glamour world- it is not a fixed amount every amount and is variable. However, the returns are worth the efforts .

I bring a wealth of experience and expertise form my corporate and academic ventures I intend to use all that to my advantage to secure my income streams .

 What does the  future hold for the evolving Jyoti ?

I have changed my industry from Corporate to Education to Fashion and Glamour after the age of 35 . I am constantly evolving and changing and trying out new ideas of entrepreneurship .

I have set a few goals in the fields of Fashion and Entertainment. They shall speak for themselves 5 years from now .



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.