Neeraj Gaba is a Celebrity Host, a Motivational Speaker and a Fashion Expert. The Celebrity Image Consultant is now a popular face on TV. He appears as one of the panel members-cum-mentors on India's Next Top Model on MTV and is working with Lakme Fashion Week since 2014. Apart from fashion he also continues his career as a mentor.
Through his story, he takes us behind the scenes, tells us about what actually goes on between ‘action’ and ‘cut’, making risky choices in life, the flip-side of social media, and his secret talent.
Born in Delhi, Neeraj comes from a middle-class Punjabi background. While he doesn’t believe formal education is necessary to succeed, he is a highly qualified and trained individual. Educationally, he is a Hotel Management Graduate from IHM and MBA from prestigious Leeds Business School, UK. His first professional encounter was as an industrial trainee at Maurya Sheraton, Delhi, as a part of hotel management curriculum.
At a time when conventions ruled the roost, Neeraj decided to go against the grain and opted for a career that was hardly considered “thriving”.
His first professional job was with Sahara Airlines as a Cabin Crew where personality, carriage, communication and awareness played an integral part towards serving the passengers in the best possible manner.
Keeping these imbibed traits alive, Neeraj evolved over the years while working across profiles and territories. Funnelling basic aptitude and skills pushed him into lifestyle spaces.
While Neeraj continued taking personality development sessions for fashion & entertainment talent, his association as Show Area Director with Lakme Fashion Week helped seal the deal between him and the fashion world.
Neeraj Gaba is a firm believer that it is our journey that counts, for the destinations keep evolving with time, experiences, interests and knowledge. And it has been a mixed bag for him too.
“Dwelling on an earnest desire to experience the world, it's cultures and people, led to various professional associations in Australia, US & UK. Living in these countries, all by myself, further helped me funnel down opportunities aligned to my aptitude, attitude and interests. Such exposure also helped me become independent in actions and belief, and to truly shoulder responsibilities of my actions and their results.”
There came a time, when it all converged to entertainment and lifestyle spaces comprising films, fashion, events etc. To name a few, India's Next Top Model, Lakme Fashion Week, Myntra Fashion Weekend, Hamleys Ramp Camp, Seychelles India Day, 'Prague' - a Hindi Feature Film, Manhattan Short Film Festival, I Am She - Miss Universe India pageant etc.
Personality development of self and others, due to interest and exposure, became his shadow in corporate and entertainment verticals through this professional journey.
As they say, to appreciate light, one must experience darkness. Similar is with victories and failures. Neeraj has had many setbacks through these years. However, the yearning to be in light again, always kept that thread of hope alive in him.
Neeraj believes life is all about experimentation. His learning from failures has been, to never shy away from them, for they are certain and imperative. The only way out of a failing scenario is to 'respond' and not 'react', and thus 'evolve' to break any patterns.
“I think, us evolving continually, ensures that there are many breakthroughs that one encounters in a lifetime. So to pin point one will be unjust to other moments that have truly helped me grow, internally and externally. Having said so, the highest breakthrough was the day when I realised that the most important aspect of life is to live a joy filled life with a larger than self purpose, and started treading on it.”
At only 17 years of age, moving out of family home and living independently whilst studying and then working eventually, became a huge challenge for Neeraj at that time.
Then came a huge education loan to be paid back for his MBA. Having served in airlines before, he managed a permanent position with Great North Eastern Railways (GNER) alongside his studies in the UK. With grit and determination to doubling his efforts, he earned in Pounds to pay back the loan before even finishing the degree. This experience helped evolve his mental and physical being to the next level of endurance.
Even after having done an MBA and working in international markets, there came a time when his funnelled down choices of entertainment and lifestyle spaces did not accept him as a deserving talent. It was a dip that Neeraj had never expected.
“Continually moving between bags of hope and hopelessness, made everyday a challenge to survive. Then came forward the strength of relationships developed over years that lent me a hand of respite and I became a core team member of I Am She 2010 - Miss Universe India pageant alongside Sushmita Sen. The lesson reaffirmed for life was 'respecting relationships' for people like to work with people of choice.”
When he was associated with Lakme Fashion Week, mini offers would come his way, a couple of episodes here and couple of things there. But it never struck a chord with Neeraj, because he believes if he’s not an integral part of something and not adding value to it, it would not add value to him in the long run.
“Alongside projects that add value and help me create an ‘IMPACT’ to my professional profile on ground, TV and web, youth mentoring has been and will be a constant to my story.”