Hemant Gupta at the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation office in Jamshedpur on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
When it came down to choosing between steel and rock, this young IIT alumnus chose the latter.
Hemant Gupta (24), a metallurgy graduate from IIT-Bombay, who worked in Tata Steel, Jamshedpur and Kalinganagar (Odisha), joined Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) from Monday. The techie is now manager (adventure programmes), TSAF.
Why this change from steel melting shop to adventure logistics? “I wanted to do something close to my heart. I got a platform in TSAF to pursue my passion,” said the offbeat engineer.
Hemant added he was “passionate about mountains”. “I love trekking, spot climbing, rowing, abseiling or rappelling, caving, rafting, the whole works,” grinned Hemant, his ease showing he was no rookie.
While most people know what trekking, spot climbing, rowing and rafting are, here’s a crash course on the two others.
In abseiling, a German term for rappelling, a climber, facing a straight cliff, makes a controlled descent with a rope in hand. Caving, called spelunking in the US and potholing in the UK, is when an adventure buff explores a cave.
“I was very excited when I arrived at the office at JRD Tata Sports Complex this morning. We had a group discussion with colleagues,” said the adventure buff who hails from Kota, Rajasthan.
Hemant graduated from IIT-Bombay in 2011 and underwent a year-long stint as a graduate trainee at Tata Steel, Jamshedpur, the same year.
“I landed a Tata Steel job via campus placement. I worked as a graduate trainee and was later sent to Kalinganagar in July 2012. I looked after project operations at the steel melting shop. I’ve also been sent to Germany,” he said.
For his new role, he has done a “basic course from Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali in 2009”.
The modest youth was part of TSAF’s expedition to Chamsher Kangri in August 2012. He also accompanied Everesters Arunima Sinha and Susen Mahto till Everest base camp last year and aced Island Peak in Nepal.
He added he was “very thankful to Bachendri Pal (TSAF boss and India’s first woman Everester) for recommending my name to the management”.
So, how did fellow techies react to his unlikely crossover?
“Some IIT mates have left jobs for NGOs. I followed my heart,” he said.
Though a climber, Hemant has his feet planted firmly on the ground.
“Sure, every middle class parent wants his or her kid to get a job. That’s why my mother Savita Gupta pushed me into the technical stream. Few in India dream of adventure sport as a career option. But I have faith in my dreams,” he said.
Hemant’s father, a civil engineer, died years ago. He has two younger sisters — Jaya is studying in IIT-Kanpur, while Jyotsana is pursuing her BCom in Kota.
Pal said they were now planning to send Hemant for training at Sir Edmund Hillary Institute of Outdoor Pursuit (New Zealand) and National Outdoor Leadership Course in Ranikhet (Uttarakhand).
“An IIT engineer joining an adventure sports organisation is revolutionary,” Pal said, welcoming her new manager. “Hemant will inspire many others to follow their dreams, no matter how offbeat or adventurous,” she said.