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Story So Far
My story so far…
My story began 7,000 kilometres away from here in India, where I grew up the youngest of 11 children and attended state schools in Delhi. During my summers as a child, I would stay at my sister’s house. Her place had no bathroom, no running water and just one electric light. I remember spending several hours a day collecting buckets of buffalo dung which I’d shape into pancakes, slap them on walls to dry and then use for fuel. Back then I was the dung collector champion!
My mum instilled in me the value of giving back. She followed her desire to help others by cooking ten evening meals daily for the homeless. Every evening she would ask me to walk one kilometre each day to distribute meals to them. In spite of my initial grumbling, I always felt great seeing their sunny smiles.
Through hard work at school I won entry to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), one of the world’s leading universities, where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in engineering. On the back of that I encouraged my family to send two of my nieces to university. They were the first women from my family to take higher education.
I then went to the US on a teaching scholarship to study for a Masters’ in engineering at Clarkson University, New York. My excitement of flying for the first time at the age of 22, however, was short-lived. The second I stepped off the plane I was a fish out of water, faced with a different culture, a different language and a different socio-economic level. I was dirt poor.
Even worse, I only had $20 to get me through my first seven days! But I reminded myself that I had come to New York to fulfil my dream of having a global business. I would work day and night to achieve this goal. I realised then that if I was to become a successful entrepreneur, I needed to acquire a combination of three ingredients at the same time: top business skills, substantial savings and the profile of a global manager. I understood that it would require self-discipline, a razor-sharp focus and making sacrifices for 10-15 years.
Visualising my goal every day, I focused on my studies. I decided to save 50% of my monthly scholarship which was no easy feat, I assure you. I never ate out in New York for the first 12 months, not even at McDonalds, but I still had the most delicious food everyday…because I cooked it myself!
As I was getting a grip on my life, I suffered a brain haemorrhage. However, with the help of my wonderful roommates during this ordeal, I stayed glued to my education and graduated with a Masters’ degree. I then got a job as a Transport Engineer and set a goal of saving $50,000 in three years. I worked overtime all the time. When not working 60 hours per week, I would use my time to volunteer as a fire-fighter and work on my funny accent. By the way, I never had any accent problems in India!
I can’t tell you how happy I felt when I had saved $50,000, enough to pursue my next dream of studying at a top business school. In 1992, I graduated with an MBA from University of California, Los Angeles with the Dean’s Outstanding Student Award, the highest honour given to any student. And I had no outstanding debts.
I then joined Sales and Trading at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street. I immediately set a goal of saving one million dollars in ten years. By the way, I was interviewed 31 times before I got that job! From day one, I started working at least 80 hours a week, but I enjoyed the nonstop, intense competition.
Having worked for Goldman Sachs, I decided to build the profile of a global manager. In subsequent years, I went on to work alongside senior bankers at Lehman Bros, Deutsche Bank and Citibank in New York, Tokyo and Zurich and travelled to about 50 countries. I achieved my goal of saving one million dollars three years earlier than planned. And I diligently worked 80 hours every week, just as my mum did to raise 11 kids.
After living and working in three continents, I settled in the City of London in 1999 where I also rediscovered my love for curry and cricket! Living on Minories and Wormwood Street, I started consulting with Deutsche Bank in Bishopsgate.
Armed with my business education, savings and global work experience, two years later I launched Global Markets Consultants (GMC), a management consulting firm, in the City of London and New York. With GMC Offices in Liverpool Street and Houndsditch, I was a business consultant and led project teams in global banks including: Deutsche Bank in Bishopsgate, Winchester House and Appold Street; UBS in Liverpool Street; and Credit Agricole on Appold Street.
I was proud when GMC won Preferred Supplier recognition from Deutsche Bank every year from 2005 to 2013. But, I am even more proud that we have also created hundreds of management and business consulting jobs and contributed millions in corporate and individual taxes to HMRC. Most importantly, we’ve promoted diversity at all levels and encouraged staff to give back to their communities.
Having retired in 2010 at the age of 45, I now spend my time, business expertise and savings to pursue my charitable, travelling and community interests. I have been a magistrate for the past six years and, as a patron or trustee, I support over 20 charities which care for the elderly, promote diversity and empower young people. I have also raised over £250,000 for charitable causes by completing challenges such as the London Marathon, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and cycling 500 kilometres across Vietnam and Cambodia.
I enjoy travelling and have visited over 100 countries including the North and South Poles. But I cherish living in London given its diversity, history and traditions.
I’m passionate about my community. I’ve already committed three million pounds of my savings, my talent and 50 hours per week of my time to promote diversity in London and employability for young people. To date, I’ve delivered inspiring talks to thousands of young people in the House of Commons, the House of Lords and community events.
I’ve also created opportunities for 28 community champions to contest in our recent UK elections as Councillor, MP and London Assembly candidates. This has brought their unrecognised leadership skills into the limelight.
To recognise my entrepreneurial contributions, I was thrilled to be invited to have lunch on the top table with HM The Queen at a Diamond Jubilee celebration. In 2013 I was awarded an OBE for services to the economy and promoting charitable giving. A year later, I was presented the Individual Community Spirit Award by Boris Johnson at the London Leadership and Peace Awards.
Furthermore, I actively participate in City life: I became a Freeman of the City of London in 2011 and was recently installed as a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers. I am a member of the Guild of Freemen, the United Wards Club and Bishopsgate Ward Club. I have sponsored and participated in the City’s annual events including the Lord Mayor’s Parade, the Big Curry Lunch to support ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, and the Sheriff’s Ball to champion ex-offenders. I am also a supporter of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Barbican Centre.
On reflection, my achievements have only been possible because of the opportunities provided to me by the City of London. I am extremely grateful to the City and its people for embracing me and giving me the chance to start my global business. In addition to working in the City since 1999, I’ve lived in the City for 17 years, including the last 10 years right next to Tower Bridge. Would you believe that this is the same bridge that was plastered on my bedroom wall back in India?!
Following the values instilled in me by my mom, I want to continue giving back to the City of London what it has given me over the years with my talent, time and savings. My dream is to ensure my “giving back account” is bigger than my bank account.