AF BOMBAY ALUMNI

As AF Bombay continues with its 85-year-old legacy of bringing Mumbaikars a world of opportunities, we would like to shine the spotlight on some of our notable alumni, and their journeys with the French language.

Keep reading to know how learning French opens up a plethora of opportunities for you.

Ms Vanisha Hemrajani
Campus France Manager – Mumbai

After having completed her B2 level of French from Alliance Française de Bombay in the year 2016, Vanisha went to France as an English Language Assistant in a school in the Amiens region of France. Upon her return, she was appointed as a visa executive at the French Consulate in Mumbai in 2017. Post this, during the period of 2017–2019, aside from being a French Language Professor at Hill Spring International School, she got her FLE (teaching French as a Foreign Language) Certification from Alliance Française de Vichy in Cavilam in France in 2018, and her Pro FLE certification with France Éducation International in 2019. In 2021, after having completed her C1 Level of French, she was appointed as the Executive Solutions Consultant and French Language Specialist at Zycus Infotech. Currently, since July 2023, she is heading the Campus France office in Mumbai where she is involved in promoting French higher education opportunities in the West Zone, and encouraging international mobility of students to France.

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for?

Mr. Nushad Merchant
Alumni Relations Manager at Audencia – Paris, France

Nushad was an active student member of the Student Cultural Body at Alliance Française de Bombay and participated in a plethora of cultural activities.After completing his French courses at AF Bombay in 2006, he went on to pursue several internships at the Consulate General of France in Bombay in the visa department. He was promoted to Assistant Press In-charge at the Consulate General of France in Bombay in 2009, and later worked as the Executive Assistant to the Consul General for the next 5 years.

In 2014, he left India to pursue his MSc in International Management with a specialisation in Marketing & Strategy at Audencia in Nantes. His career trajectory includes working at prestigious organisations like the Hilton France, where he interned as a Sales Assistant; The Price Hub in Paris as the Marketing & Communications In-charge (2015 – 2017), Superprof in Paris as India Country Manager (2017 – 2018). Currently, he is the Alumni Relations Manager at Audencia in Paris.

Apart from this, Nushad also interned at and works pro-bono for the Amicales des Centres Internationaux Francophones (AMICIF) of the Lions Clubs in France as a Content and Communication Team Manager (articles for the website, mailers, social media), and also manages the network of ex-participants who live in France.

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for?

Mr Prashant Sonawala
Technical Writer at Amadeus – Nice, France

Prashant started his French language learning journey at Alliance Française de Bombay in 2009. In the summer of 2010, when he was still an AF Bombay student, he worked as a translator for geological reports and correspondence at Dharni Sampda. In 2011, he obtained a DALF C1 level certification and was hired by Praxis Technologies as a writer for creating digital content for French language learners.

After working at Praxis for a year, he decided to pursue higher education and flew to the drizzly land of the Ch’tis – Lille! Located only a few kilometers from the Franco-Belgian border, this city of Flemish architecture was his first home in France.

At Charles de Gaulle University, he spent the first year of his Masters program studying French language pedagogy. In 2014, as part of his internship, he came back to Mumbai and taught French at Alliance Française. For the second year of his Masters, he chose the Stendhal University in Grenoble where he studied language didactics, pedagogy and multimedia.

When he graduated in 2015, he found a job as a technical writer at Esker, an IT company based in Lyon. Having gained hands-on experience for 6 years, he moved to another IT company called Semarchy in 2022.

At present, he lives in Nice in the beautiful French Riviera and works at Amadeus, a major IT service provider in the travel and tourism sector. As a technical writer, he is able to apply his language and teaching skills to communicate, understand how complex IT products work and produce easy-to-understand documents for different readers. And all of this in French and English!

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for?

Ms Sanika Vaze
Educator at Dhirubhai Ambani International School

Sanika completed her DALF C1 from Alliance Française de Bombay in 2012 and then went on to pursue her MA in French Literature at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. 

During this period, she worked as a translator and radio presenter at Akashvani All India Radio (2015 – 2020) on a French show aimed at promoting Indian culture to the Francophone and French diaspora. Simultaneously, she explored various professional avenues, some of which included working as a tourist guide and a voice-over artist. 

After her graduation in 2017, she pursued  her Masters in Philosophy in Francophone Literature from JNU and went on to work as a French language professor at St Mary’s School Safdarjung, Delhi (2019 – 2020). 

On her return to Mumbai, she joined Hill Spring International School, Mumbai as a French language professor (2020 – 2021) and is presently a dedicated educator at Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai. Since 2019, she is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Contemporary French and Francophone Literature from JNU on the side.

Sanika’s commitment to the French language extends beyond the classroom, as she endeavours to instil a passion for linguistic and cultural diversity in the world.

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for?

Ms Vallari Gharat
Customer Service Advisor at Intermarché & Netto

 

Vallari’s professional and academic career has been built around passion and love for the French language and culture. 

After finishing her B2 level at AF Bombay in 2015, she started out as a self-employed tutor in Mumbai in 2016, where she helped high school students to progress from A1 to A2 level in French. During her Bachelor of Arts in French at Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College in 2017, she interned at the Consulat Général de France à Bombay where she worked alongside the French Language Cooperation Attaché for promotion of programmes on French language and culture via social media. 

After her bachelor’s program, she flew to France in 2018 to pursue the Diplôme Universitaire d’Études Françaises, a full-time ‘French as a Foreign Language’ semester-based course for level C1 (2018) followed by completing her level C2 (2019) at CIREFE, Université de Rennes 2. She then went on to work in Service Civique: The French National Volunteer Service at 4bis – Information Jeunesse, Rennes in 2020. Her work included setting up workshops to inform the local youth in priority neighbourhoods on training courses, jobs, scholarships and different employment services. 

She also worked for the La Main Verte program, a service to facilitate employment for disadvantaged people. As part of her volunteer service, she shadowed a lawyer at UAIR (Union of Intercultural Associations of Rennes) who works on immigration laws and assists women who are victims of domestic violence. 

Her career path was enriched by her experience as a Travel Information Assistant at the end of 2020 and early 2021 at Kisio, Rennes, where she facilitated the use of new ticketing systems and collected customer feedback on the local transport of Rennes city. She also provided on-the-job training to new recruits. 

 

Presently, she works as a customer service advisor at Dis Info at Cesson-Sévigné for Intermarché & Netto, French supermarket chains, since 2021. Her job involves managing customer requests and complaints via various channels (social networking sites, emails, calls) while providing support and escalating problems where necessary. She also provides on-the-job training to new recruits. 

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for? 

Ms Rachana Thakkar,
Head of HR & Admin and Mumbai Office Representative at BTG Advaya

Rachana started learning French at Alliance Française de Bombay in 2009 and received the DELF B2 and DFP C1 certifications in 2014. In 2016, she worked with Bouygues Construction India Pvt. Ltd. as an Admin & Expat Liaison officer where she oversaw expat relocations, inter-government communications, FRRO & visa support, office administration, and assisted the CFO. 

Between 2017 – 2020, under the aegis of the Embassy of France in India, Business France, she managed the Promotion and Administration of the French Young Professionals’ Program in India (V.I.E). She also supported French companies seeking to explore the Indian market and provided customised Business Services. 

In 2023, she joined BTG Advaya as the Head of HR & Admin and the Mumbai office representative of its French desk. There, she works with a French lawyer and is a member of the CCEF in India. The French desk is a bi-lingual link connecting their French clients with legal expertise offered by BTG Advaya. 

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for? 

 

Mrs Sheetal Munshaw
Director of Atout France Mumbai

Sheetal Munshaw started her journey at Alliance Française de Bombay in 1994. She completed her Diplôme Supérieur d’Etudes Françaises Modernes- Littérature in 1998. While she was still at Alliance Française de Bombay, she had the opportunity to participate in the Centre Internationaux Francophones des Lions Clubs de France. She was a part of the Centre Culurel Mixte Itinérant at Flers, Normandy in 1997 which was her first tryst of many to France.

After AF Bombay, she went on to pursue her Masters in the French Language at University of Mumbai. The French language has been a leitmotif in Sheetal’s career. She started out as a professor with the French department at Elphinstone College in 2000. Later, she went on to pursue journalism, completed a teacher’s training course at AF Bombay, and taught at the GD Somani Centre in 2002.

In 2004, Sheetal joined Maison de la France, The French Tourism Board as Promotions Manager and was later promoted to Deputy Director in 2007. Her role was to promote France as a leading tourism destination in India. Sheetal also started her own consultancy firm — Avant Garde that promoted and marketed premium travel offerings. During this tenure she was the official representative of Chamonix Mont Blanc Tourist Office and was instrumental in positioning Chamonix Mont Blanc as a sought-after destination in India. Her love for French pushed her to undertake courses in sommellerie with various institutions including the Cape Wine Academy, WSET and the CAFA BORDEAUX school.

Since 2015 Sheetal has been the first non-French national to be appointed as the Director of Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency. Under her leadership at Atout France, the Indian tourists in France have grown exponentially to a whopping 700,000 pre- pandemic. Destination France has received over 20 accolades since 2015, with the latest one being — Editor’s Choice Award bestowed by the coveted Travel and Leisure Magazine, awarded in honour of Paris as the best international culinary destination.

Sheetal has also received many prestigious awards like ‘Excellence in the field of Tourism’ by ICUNR (Indian Council for UN Relations) on the occasion of International Women’s Day. She has been enlisted in the TOP 100 Most Powerful of 2019 – issued by LuxeBook in Dec 2019, TOP 50 Indian Luxury’s Most Powerful Women- Issued by Black Book in Dec 2016, TOP 50 Indian Luxury’s Most Powerful Women-Issued by Black Book in Dec 2015.

She is a member of the Advisory Board for Travel Biz Monitor, a leading B2B travel trade magazine and a special invitee to the CCEF – Conseillers du Commerce Extérieur network and the Governing Council of the Indo French Chamber of Commerce.

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for? 

 

Mr Akshay Talim
Product Owner at GXO, Toulouse France

Akshay proudly states that learning  French language at Alliance Française de Bombay was “one of the best decisions of his life” after completing his Bachelors in Engineering in 2002 . From being a Niveau A, faux-débutant student in 2002 to pursuing DFA (Diplôme de Française des Affaires) in 2005, he enjoyed every moment. 

In his three years studying at Alliance Française de Bombay he was a part of “La Comité des Élèves” (The Students Council). They worked closely with the directors, professors, and the administrative staff to promote the French language through cultural events. This is where he made the closest of friends and found his life partner.

His journey at AF Bombay  boosted all aspects of his  personality: social, cultural, professional, and personal. From organising events, freelancing in translation & interpretation, to developing softwares in KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd for the French company Legrand, he used his knowledge of French on a regular basis between 2002 and 2007.

Participating in the Centres Internationaux Francophones program that he discovered at Alliance Française de Bombay, helped him and his wife gain an international exposure and also gave them the confidence to move to France for post-graduate studies in 2007. They completed their Masters in Business Administration from Kedge Business School, Marseille (then called Euromed Management) post which he went to Toulouse to work at Norbert Dentressangle (now called GXO) in 2008. He has undertaken many roles there, from an Analyst to a Project Manager and currently is a Product Owner.

As the only foreign national in his company and social circle, he was able to make use of all the experience gathered at Alliance Française de Bombay, to integrate socially and professionally. As he always jokingly says to his friends in India, “Learning French at Alliance Française gave me the confidence to have a two-way conversation with a doctor and a lawyer in French.”

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for?

Mrs Priyanka Shah Talim
Head of Innovation at Toulouse School of Economics

In Priyanka’s own words, “Learning the French language has been a transformative and enriching journey that has significantly shaped both my personal and professional life. My experience at the Alliance Française de Bombay was not merely an academic pursuit but a holistic immersion into the vibrant tapestry of French culture. 

As a member of the students committee, collaborating closely with the Cultural Director allowed me to contribute actively to the promotion of French arts, literature, and traditions within the local community.”

After completing her DFA (Diplôme de Française des Affaires) at AF Bombay in 2005, Priyanka started her work at Campus France (2005 – 2007) where she became a facilitator for Indo-French educational collaborations. The language became a bridge between diverse cultures, fostering understanding and cooperation between students and institutions. It was immensely gratifying for her to witness firsthand how proficiency in French could pave the way for meaningful partnerships in the realm of higher education.

Working at the Toulouse School of Economics (since 2013) has been an incredibly rewarding experience for Priyanka. The French language has opened doors to a world-renowned economic research centre, where she contributes to cutting-edge projects and collaborates with experts in the field.

AF Bombay not only provided her with linguistic skills but also became the backdrop for a significant chapter in her personal life. Meeting her husband at this institution and celebrating their wedding with the Alliance Française team added a deeply sentimental layer to her language-learning journey.

Living in France, her husband and her have continued their commitment to the French language and culture through their involvement in the association — Centres internationaux francophones des Lions Clubs de France. This platform has allowed them to promote world peace and friendship, transcending linguistic barriers through French.

In essence, the importance of learning the French language extends far beyond mere communication skills for Priyanka. It has been a key that has unlocked doors to opportunities, connected her with people from diverse backgrounds, and allowed her to contribute meaningfully with both local and global communities. The journey has been not just a linguistic odyssey but a cultural one as well.

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for? 

Ms Itisha Poladia
English, Hindi, and Sanskrit Professor at Bordeaux, France

Itisha finished her C1 course at AF Bombay in June 2018 whilst working simultaneously at Siemens as a German and French language specialist (2013 – 2015), and later at Colgate-Palmolive as a German and French language associate and trainer (2015 – 2016). She then went on to work at TCS as a Business Process Lead with a team of German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and Italian language experts (2016 – 2018). She even worked at Maersk (which operates exclusively in the shipping industry) as a French Language Expert for a short duration in 2019.

Itisha was a French language teacher at AF Bombay from 2019 to 2022, before going to France as an English and French language Assistant for a bilingual project in a primary school at Périgueux, Bordeaux. She considers herself honoured to be part of a newly introduced multilingual education initiative at her school Maurice Albe – Les Barris where the students from nursery, CP, CE1, CE2, CM1 and CM2 are exposed to not only French but also Hindi, English, Sanskrit, German, Spanish, Italian, Arabic etc. Itisha owes this incredible opportunity that she has gained to her language proficiency acquired at AF Bombay and her experience in teaching languages.

She was also appointed as a Research Associate at the famous Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum), in Mumbai. At the museum, her major projects included the  exhibition ‘East Meets West’, organised in collaboration with Musée de Louvre Paris and Victoria and Albert Museum London. 

She gained another feather in her cap  recently, when she received her DALF C2 certificate from université Bordeaux-Montaigne, Bordeaux, France. 

As a cultural representative of India in France and as a passionate lover of art and culture, many collèges and lycées (primary and secondary schools) in Périgueux, Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Paris have invited Itisha to talk about language learning and its advantages, about Indian culture, history, and life in Mumbai. 

Learning French opens up a world of Opportunities! So what are you waiting for?