Media & Entertainment Executive
Sahil Punamia is one of the country’s leading university speakers on student leadership and college orientation.
His keynotes deliver an inspirational and insight-packed experience that will leave your students feeling empowered to take full control of their collegiate journey and leave lasting legacies for their communities.
How did an 18 year old turn his rejection letter from UCLA into a personal invitation to join the University from a department head? How did that same student start the nation’s most successful entrepreneurship fraternity while accumulating job offers from highly competitive employers?
The answer is simple: he learned to identify his unfair advantages and used them to create the career – and life – of his dreams.
Sahil Punamia (pronounced “Saw-hill,” like cutting a small mountain in half) is a case study on overcoming “Imposter Syndrome.”
When he applied to UCLA – his dream school – during his Senior year in high school, he was rejected because of his lack of academic qualification. A few weeks later, his phone rang. It was the music director at UCLA. The director saw a clip of Sahil playing the alto sax, and urged him to audition for the Marching Band. If he made the cut, he’d have a chance at becoming a member of the band and gaining admission to the university. So Sahil did what any ambitious band geek would do – he skipped class for an entire week to perfect his audition tape, and got in!
During his first few years at UCLA, Sahil grappled with feeling inferior to the 30,000+ students who, on paper, were more qualified than him. He feared that his professional future was doomed.
He continued to push himself through rigorous academic coursework with little success, when, one night while trying to decipher hydrocarbon properties for his organic chemistry class, he had an epiphany:
Instead of viewing life as a competition amongst peers, what if he started investing in the success and happiness of his peers?
This fundamental shift in mindset from “Sahil vs. Others” to “Sahil AND Others” fostered a fresh perspective and approach for winning in hyper competitive environments.
Armed with this new perspective of pursuing life and overcoming challenges through teamwork, Sahil started building communities.
Without meaning to, he became the President of the most exclusive business club on campus (one with a 3% acceptance rate), and founded the West coast’s first fraternity dedicated to entrepreneurship. That same fraternity has since expanded to Stanford, UC Berkeley, USC, and UC Santa Barbara.
During his senior year, Sahil received an award from the Chancellor thanking him for his service and leadership to the university, which he now has framed next to his original rejection letter from the admissions board.
After graduating, Sahil began his career at L.E.K. Consulting – a global market research and strategy consulting firm that was listed on Glassdoor’s “Top 25 Most Difficult Companies to Interview With in the United States.”
Sahil left L.E.K. after several years to join Discovery Communications as one of the youngest Senior Managers across the company’s 7,000 employees worldwide, where he helped with the company’s ~$15B acquisition of Scripps Networks (HGTV, Food Network). Two years ago, Sahil moved on from Discovery Channel to take a role as a Growth Marketing Strategist at the world’s leading premium streaming service.
Aside from his career in entertainment, Sahil is co-founder of The Career Launchpad (masterclass.2by22.blog/p/career-launchpad-2020), an online career coaching platform focused on scaling career services in higher education and helping students achieve their professional aspirations. Additionally, Sahil conducts speaking engagements across the country at universities and professional organizations through his company, See Sahil Speak.
Sahil also serves on the board of the UCLA Alumni Association, where he helps lead Diversity and Career Advisory efforts for UCLA’s 500,000 alumni and 40,000+ student population.
Aside from helping students achieve their collegiate and professional goals, Sahil enjoys watching and performing improv comedy, discovering hidden coffee spots, early morning drives up the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, and keeping his closet diligently organized by shade of color.
“One of the most gifted speakers I’ve ever brought to our campus.”
“Engaging and informative.”
“I have never seen our students as deeply impacted as when Sahil came to speak.”