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Offbeat: Sabina Chopra – Laughing life’s challenges away

Adgully’s special feature section – ‘Offbeat’ – seeks to give a glimpse of the lesser known facets of our very well-known industry leaders. We present, in the industry leaders’ own words, an interesting read on areas that are not usually highlighted in regular media coverage – be it about their childhood days, secret skills that they possess, how they unwind from their hectic schedules, and much more. 

Sabina Chopra, Managing Director, Indian Subcontinent, RCI, leads the execution of strategic priorities for the Indian market. She is responsible for driving business growth and delivering on-going value to RCI members and affiliates in India. She is based out of RCI’s Bangalore office. 

With more than 25 years of experience in the Indian travel market, Chopra brings a wealth of hospitality knowledge with her. 

She most recently served as Chief Operating Officer for Yatra.com, one of India’s leading online travel agencies, which she also co-founded. Prior to Yatra, she headed the India-based operations of ebookers, Europe’s largest online travel company, where she was responsible for customer service, sales, air ticketing, email and online departments. Chopra has also held management roles at Hewitt Associates, RAC (Aviva Plc), Japan Airlines and Canadian Airlines. 

Also Read: Offbeat: Jiggy George – Harbouring rock star dreams

A precious childhood trait that you still possess?
My childhood laughter. Laughing is the most essential thing throughout everyday life and you ought not to surrender it. 

Any superhero fetish and what power you wish you possessed?
I have for the longest time wanted to be Catwoman, the fictional character which appeared in American comic books published by DC Comics. I was always fascinated by the idea of jumping from building to buildings. 

 What is your biggest fear and how do you face it?
My biggest fear has always been extreme heights. I have been afraid of even going to the second floor and looking down from the balcony. But I always keep trying to overcome this fear. Recently, I visited Australia and went for The Grand Canyon Skywalk. Its elevation is about 4,000 feet above the floor of the canyon. It was a real challenge to walk out on it. To overcome my fear, I decided to do it. I was amazed on completing this thrilling experience. 

A secret that you have which no one knows about?
Before I go on stage for a public speech, I have a mini nervous meltdown. I feel like once I am in front of an audience I will forget everything and get exceptionally anxious. I have given plenty of speeches, but till today I always get nervous just 10 minutes before I need to go on stage, however, once I am in front of an audience, I have a great time interacting with them. 

What would one find in your playlist?
I am a big fan of pop music and Latin beats and some latest Punjabi music, which are on my playlist. 

Your go-to activity to relax?
It has always been walking and dancing for me. If I need to unwind, I either go out for a walk or play some music and dance. Bangalore has a refreshing and re-energising weather, I go for a long walk to unwind myself.

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What is the greatest lesson that you have learnt from life so far?
I always believe in the “Never Give Up” mantra. I have seen so many amazing women give up under various circumstances. It is alright to momentary give up on something, however, one must always work towards their dreams and aspirations without losing their focus. I was always keen to work, but considering my responsibilities towards the family, I had to quit my job, but with a motive to come back to work-life again. I believed in myself and started my career again after a few years and achieved this stature by believing in never giving up on aspirations. 

A social cause that you are most passionate about?
I have been working for the girl child for a while now. I support some NGOs that work for the same. The initial steps must start from your own home though; the house help that I have has two little girls, I have been supporting their education and making sure that they have all the facilities and amenities that are needed. I have always had a soft corner for the girl child. 

If not the MD at RCI, what would you have been?
I would have loved to be at some position in the Business Development side. BD is something I have always been enthusiastic about. 

What are three apps on your mobile that you couldn’t live without?
WhatsApp, Netflix and Facebook. I am a very social person and these are my favourite apps to go and reconnect with my friends, colleagues and family. Netflix is my go-to app when I am travelling as I cover up on all the daily dose of drama and of course, the RCI.com app to search for holidays on the go. 

What’s the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
I have recently finished watching ‘The Good Wife’, which is a TV series based on the challenges of the main lead woman. I really enjoyed it as it is a very woman-centric show and shows the hardships of a woman’s life and how she overcomes them. I chose to watch this series as I related to it personally, the lead character comes back to work after 15 years and I came back to work after 5 years. It shows all the ups and downs in both her personal and professional life and it was just fascinating to watch her beat it all. 

Which two organisations outside your own do you know the most people at and why?
Yatraa.com and Ebookers.com. These have been two of my previous companies and I still have great friends and connections here. I have always left an organisation because of personal reasons and not on monetary grounds. I have made sure when I am resigning from an organisation, I do it with a positive attitude. If they needed a one-year notice from me I have given them that and left with proper feedback and a strong relationship. I believe in maintaining relations and I am happy that I have achieved that at all the organisations I have worked till now. 

Two things about this industry you don’t like or don’t understand?
There is nothing one cannot like about the travel industry. I adore the energizing life that comes with being a part of this industry. It is an exceptionally innovative industry and I am very thankful to have such a wonderful job. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I have never had the desire to leave India. India is very close to my heart and I love the culture that comes with it. In any case, on the off chance that I needed to pick, I would choose Italy and London for precisely the same reason – their deep culture.

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