Five of the Seven

(My L1-P1 Speech under the Pathways Program – Speech delivered at Doha Toastmasters Club meeting held on Saturday, 4th August 2018)

Shakespeare in his play “As You like it” says:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

Toastmaster of the day, fellow Toastmasters and guests! Good Evening!

I made my entrance on the stage in 1962 (Ancient? Antique?). The world at that time was full of milk and honey! And I did not like milk! We had a cow in those days and it used to love its freedom! It will not return on some days after grazing and going in search of this truant lady and bringing her back used to be my challenging task!

Going to school, a Kannada Medium one at Udupi in Karnataka (India), was all fun because we got to play in rain water in barefoot. Barefoot, not because we couldn’t afford footwear, but because it was very inconvenient to wear!

Teachers, in those days, were highly committed and also commanded huge respect. I can’t forget the pride I saw in my Headmaster’s eyes when he broke the news of me getting fourth rank in the Merit List and the National Merit Scholarship.

I still wonder what stuff our Kannada Pundit was made of! He used to take classes after the school hours on Kannada Literature which was not even part of our syllabus! This did inspire me to try my hand in writing short stories, some of which were published too!

My college stint was cut short as I opted for employment as a clerk in LIC. I was all of eighteen years old at that time! It was not an economic necessity. I just did not want to miss an opportunity which came after being successful in a competitive exam.

While in the service of LIC, completed my graduation through Correspondence and appeared for SBI Probationary Officers’ recruitment exam. Fortunately got selected from nearly a million applicants. But unfortunately, got posted to remote North Eastern part of India. While in Guwahati, I courageously opted for a posting in more remote southern Mizoram at a place called Tlabung, a place where India, Bangladesh and Mynmar meet. 30 years back, this place had no electricity and no proper roads! There was a saying in Mizo which meant “Tlbung is soooo faraway ………………that even the sky is not covering it”. But SBI was there. I have very sweet memories of this place, much better than my later postings at SBI Hong Kong and SBI, Mauritius.

By this time, I got a co-passenger and then there came two little passengers, who are now on their own journey of discovery. My son, a B. Tech from NITK, Suratkal is pursuing his passion in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (Don’t ask me what is that). He started his ‘start-up’ after giving up a promising career with Goldman Sachs. My daughter is in Seattle, US with a large online retailer, after doing her MS in IT from University of Florida.

Twenty years in SBI took me through retail banking, commercial banking, treasury, risk management and structured finance. Then, my spirit of adventure got better of me and I left a promising career in SBI to take up employment with a bank in Kuwait. This bank got converted into an Islamic bank and I was entrusted with many responsibilities during this conversion. This helped me to  learn a lot about Islamic banking.

In 2008, Qatar lured me into its fold, first in employment with an Investment bank and then with Qatar Central Bank. Now, as an Advisor in Governor’s Office, I am having a fulfilling career contributing to banking sector stability and growth.

Thus, I have passed through the first five stages of being a son, a student, a husband, a father, and a banker. I am now looking forward for the next two stages:

• A role in which I can give something back to the society and

• Then to gracefully grow old and earn the title ‘Wise Old Man’!

As always, the journey was much more fascinating than the joy of reaching the destination and my take-away is that what makes one really happy is good relationships which one develops on his journey!

Over to you

(Here is the link to watch this speech as delivered at the meeting of Doha Toastmasters Club on 4th August 2018 : )

Wow…It’s already ten years in Doha

Saturday, 7th June 2008 feels like it was just yesterday! Landed here in New Doha International Airport (NDIA) on that day, from Kuwait where I was employed in a bank for past two years and seven months. While I was fairly new to the Middle East, I was also prepared, in the sense that I thought I knew what to expect! I was ushered into a nice hotel by name Grand Regency near the ‘Sports Round About’ in Al Sadd, a part of Doha. Next day, on Sunday the 8th June 2008, I joined the Risk Management Team at a new Investment Bank.

And now, New Doha International Airport is no longer operational and a new, sprawling, high tech, all glass and chrome ‘Hamaad International Airport’ (HIA) has taken its place. Sophisticated and efficient, this new airport leaves a lasting impression on any traveller’s mind, though NDIA was no less efficient and no less beautiful! The hotel Grand Regency is now Wyndham Grand Regency, Sports Roundabout is no longer in existence and in its place, we have a nice, smooth and multi-lane intersection. Then I have also moved on to Qatar Central Bank (QCB). As far as the ‘being prepared’ aspect, Doha continues to surprise me, continues to impress me and continues to grow in my esteem for its character!

Steve Jobs is one of the few persons whom I idolize! For Steve Jobs, success was all about getting it right in terms of designs, colors and functions. Had he seen the topiary plants, florescent flowers and manicured lawns of Doha, he would have instantly fallen in love with this city! Doha is as much functional as it is beautiful. Ambition played a big part in the life of Steve Jobs. His ambition to bring out great products made him reach amazing heights. On several occasions he set goals which were seen as impossible and then……… he achieved them! Similarly, Doha is a city with ambition. “Expect Amazing” was Qatar’s slogan for its successful bid for 2022 FIFA World Cup. This success was, earlier seen as impossible!

Passion for excellence was the cornerstone for the success of Steve Jobs. Doha too has such a passion for excellence. Whether it is hosting international sporting events and film events, building beautiful townships, museums, parks and libraries or supporting cultural and educational initiatives, this passion is very much in evidence. The biggest achievement of Steve Jobs was to make us feel that we are holding future in our hands! Doha too, often, makes us feel that we are living in a futuristic city. Look at things we have, such as district cooling, which is yet to catch up even in the developed world, state of the art ‘Katara Village’, and ‘The Pearl’, upcoming beautiful townships at Mshreib and Lusail, functional and friendly ‘Barwa Village’. Then we will soon have a futuristic Metro Rail Transport System. And we have some of the leading Universities, and a great Qatar Airways. Ambition, Passion, Vision and Future – Doha has it all!!!!

What makes Doha a great place is its people and governance. People here, have a kind of belongingness. Even when things were difficult due to geopolitical developments, governance saw to it that residents were not put to any inconvenience.

As the things around me have changed for better, I am also having fulfilling career in banking regulation and am contributing to establishment of a vibrant and stable economy. A challenging, yet immensely satisfying work life with good work life balance is what I cherish.

I have learnt quite a few life lessons.Inspired by Doha and Qatar, I have realized that nothing is impossible and one grows by facing challenges. Another important lesson is that our beliefs shape our reality.

I am sure that the time I spent in Doha is going to be the best in my life. I will cherish those beautiful parks with sprawling lawns, the Corniche (i.e., the waterfront promenade), crisp weather in the winter months with flowers all around and wonderful Qatari hospitality.