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BD Specialist - Sutherland | Khushbu Gopalni

Khushbu Gopalni

Khushbu Gopalni

"I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people" Khushbu Gopalni

Your Background:

I was born and raised in a Sindhi business-class joint family in Ujjain - the city of temples - in Madhya Pradesh. I consider it a boon that ours was a women-led household, where my mom, grand mom and aunts took most of the decisions for the welfare of the family. I consider this as a shaping experience that made me a self-reliant, fearless, straightforward and opinionated woman that I am today.

While academically I was an average student, I excelled in sports. I am a national-level Badminton player and have played for SAI (Sports Authority of India). I have done my graduation from Pune, and an MBA from Mumbai with specialization in Marketing. I currently work in the International-marketing domain of WNS Global Services, again under the leadership of a strong woman. 


A Turning Point Of Your Life:

I was just another 21 yrs old fun-loving girl who was trying to figure out what she had to do in life, after quitting a course of CS (Company Secretary). On 25th Aug. 2015, I decided to visit my hometown after much persuasion by my mother and that's how I boarded an evening bus. 

As destiny would have it, the bus that I boarded from Pune to Ujjain met with a major accident. I had passed out and woke up with a jolt with bodies, blood and people screaming around. The scene was ghastly, straight out of a movie, it seemed. It was so surreal that I felt that it could not be happening to me but someone else.

But the pain that I encountered was real and excruciating. I realized that a seat from above along with a man had fallen on my right leg, and I was unable to move my leg. This is my last memory before I regained my consciousness amidst the wailing sirens of ambulances. I was moved, along with the survivors and the dead, to the nearest hospital while my friends from Pune and my family members were informed.

But my nightmare had only begun. I was shell-shocked when the doctor suggested that amputation of my right leg was the only option. However, thankfully, my brother referred me to Dr. Nakul Shah from Sanjeevan Hospital in Pune for a second opinion.

He instilled a hope in me but simultaneously also gave me a reality check stating that with those deadliest injuries that I had, I would be able to walk again, though my days as a sportswoman might be over. Eventually, I was sent home after 4 major surgeries with 68 stitches and a scary scar with 32 screws, 2 plates and 1 rod in my leg with regular revisits required and some advice for a year of bed rest, to be followed by the same procedure of removal of my implants.


Life Immediately After The Turning Point:

I think that equally traumatic, if not more than the physical pain, is the society's taunts and antipathy towards a victim or a diseased person. I too had my share of this experience with uninvited wisdom that my life was over and that no eligible groom would marry me.

But as they say, God gives us the courage to overcome our challenges and also sends someone to look after us in the most traumatic phases of our lives. For me that Angel was my mother, my supermom, who stood by me as solid as a like a rock of Gibraltar. It was she who took care of me physically, emotionally and psychologically and motivated me at every step of my life. It was only for her that I never gave up on me. It is a testament to her courage and unflinching resolve that I was able to stand on my own feet after eight months. I had to re-learn to stand, to balance and to walk. I felt it was time to achieve new things and bring things back to normal.



I gave an entrance exam for MBA and secured admission to SIES College of Management Studies, Pune. It was then that I realized that real-life villains are worse than those in the movies. I was bullied and made fun of by my colleagues. I was unable to cope up with it and had to return home after just a week. It was again my mother and my doctor who motivated me; their faith in me was unshakable. I still remember that my doctor said, young lady you are a free bird, and no one can stop you. Just believe in yourself and be happy with what you have.

The next 8 months on bed had taught me that when our clothes become dirty and worn out, we throw them and exactly that is what people out there will do to me if I'm broken."

I appeared for entrances again and got through one of finest college in Mumbai, here again the comments and bullies never left my way and went to the extent of being called by names like LangdiGhodi, having Poliomyelitis etc.

You may call it poetic justice that those people who bullied me; they now come to me to ask for a job. I take that as one of the proofs that I am doing better in my job than a so-called normal person. I feel that a major part of this is because I did not let my limitations cage me but rather made them motivate me to set the bar higher and to achieve more in the workplace.


Challenges Faced:

I think that accidents and mishaps not only leave a scar on your body but also on your mind. My life after the accident has not been very smooth. I have a limping leg and hence whenever I meet new people, they invariably ask, what happened to your leg? People with genuine curiosity or concern do not bother me, but it starts to hurt when I see people giving me unasked for advice or fake sympathy.

For me, the only silver lining is that this behavior of people has helped me understand how the victims of tragedy feel, when they are questioned about their tragedy by strangers or those, they meet for the first time. This insight has helped me counsel and motivate such victims much better and empathetically.

I consider that I have been very fortunate in my professional life, as I was not shown any discrimination or was ill-treated in any way because of my injury. I started my career with a media-sales job. At the very onset, my manager inquired if I was comfortable going out for a meeting or doing fieldwork? I readily agreed for the same, being the eternal extrovert and go-getter. A case in point is my Mahamarathon project, where my performance was highly appreciated by my supervisors and peers alike.


Overcoming The Lows:

I remember walking into the badminton-court after my accident; I was petrified and filled with self-doubt about my ability to play again because of my broken bones. When I explained my dilemma to the coach, he replied, every day there are at least three people who break their legs here and yet they keep going. There is nothing wrong with you. You are fine! His words were like the rays of sun breaking from behind dark clouds. I was not the odd person that society wanted me to believe. Since that day I have never looked back and just kept moving ahead.


Vision For The Future:

I once thought that my story came to an end with that accident. But there were kind, sympathetic people who came in my life and prompted me to give myself and life a second chance. Every new day now is a new and magical existence for me. I cannot wait to see what's in store for me - more adventures, more love, more people, more family time and perhaps also more loss - because that is also an inescapable part of life. I believed that in the end, we can get past any hurdle or challenge as long as we don't lose hope and keep the fire of faith burning in ourselves. I feel giving up should not be contemplated as an option for anyone.

My life did not end but only took a new turn or started a new chapter after the accident. I appeared for the entrance exams again. I pushed myself more physically with my injured leg. I started with a basic trek with all precautions and after that, I never stopped. Today, 4 years after my accident, I have completed 41 treks (Including Kalsubai - the highest peak in Maharashtra) 1 marathon, 4 cyclotrons with 32 screws, 1 plate and 1 rod in my leg. I have made myself and my leg functional with activities such as trekking, swimming, cycling and so on. And I am not a super-woman or someone with any special powers. If I can do it, so can others. I feel that a positive approach and moving on with life current I have been able to achieve it all and so can anyone. If you are tired at any point during the day or in your life, you should take rest, but never stop as movement and change is what life is all about.


Words Of Wisdom:

One should stop relying on other people to validate their worth, you are one of your kind and there is no one who can be you and do something better in your areas of expertise, something that is your calling in life. We exist in this beautiful world for a reason, and we should not waste our time in impressing others but to do things that create value for us and for others. You should keep doing what you do with the very best of your ability and with all the passion and positivity that you can muster. As I see it - the right people will always stay, and the rest will walk away that is the part and parcel of life.

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