Interview with Tarun Anand
Chairman & Founder at Universal Business School
TEDx Speaker, Global Goodwill Ambassador
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Q1. Please share your inspirational journey with us?
I started my career as a door to door salesman for HSBC and had the very early experience of facing constant rejection and failure by getting doors slammed on my face. I then did a stint with Harshad Mehta where I worked in the Equity Research team doing primary research in identifying companies for investment. I was very fortunate to get selected by SPJIMR for my MBA and post completion I was selected by Ford Brothers Capital Services (Now Philip Capital) as Manager – International Business with exposure to Investment Banking, Private Banking, Retail Banking and Forex Trading. Thereafter, I joined Standard Chartered Bank as Business Manager – Business Financial Services focused on sales of Asset products.
Three years later, I got my big break into Treasury product sales at Reuters. This gave me exposure to all asset classes and I rose to Head of Markets Division for South Asia. Post this, I was fortunate to get a call to move to London and Head – Treasury for Emerging Markets and UKI. Over the next three years, I grew to Global Head of Treasury which encompassed managing a $2 billion business across 136 countries. I moved to New York for this role and got exposure to business across all 6 continents and built new products and businesses across all regions.
Thereafter, I along with 2 colleagues came up with the idea to create the world’s first FX exchange and we brought that idea to the Reuters Board and along with 2 colleagues at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) we received $90 million funding and created a new company FXMarketSpace. We built the business across UK, Europe and USA. We needed to cover all time zones, so I volunteered to move to Hong Kong as Head of Asia-Pacific and built the business in Japan, Australia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South East Asia. I also was Global Head of Strategy and co-created the world’s first FX Exchange with a centrally cleared model provided by the CME which won global awards. We were doing $5 billion a day trading on our platform and then the Financial crisis of 2008 hit the Banks, Primary Dealers and Hedge Funds. With AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers (our biggest clients) going into bankruptcy, our volumes plummeted, and the Board decided to shut the company. It was very tough, as I had to close all offices across Asia Pacific and fire all the staff.
I moved back to India to set up Universal Business School along with 60 other CEOs to share my experience and create leaders. At that point I was invited by Thomson Reuters CEO to lead the business as Chairman & Managing Director for South Asia.
Q2. You are a Chairman and Founder of Universal Business School. How do you excel students in their career and education at Universal Business School?
Firstly, we wanted to bring Global Education to India and partnered with leading British, American and European universities to bring the international best practices in learning to India. Secondly, we wanted to ensure that we provide 80% Experiential learning to our students as Management is a learning by doing science and hence the entire curriculum was designed with that in mind. We stretch our students with live projects, consulting assignments, multiple simulations, actual business experience, live trading in real time across asset classes, writing research papers and publishing them in reputed Indian and international journals, learning is done through gamification and through industry mentoring and shadowing.
Thirdly, we believe that the business educators need to have substantial work experience, so that they can bring that into the classroom and get the students excited by the subjects. All the Faculty at UBS are industry veterans and CEOs who have lead businesses and can bring live situations into the classrooms ensuring maximum student engagement and industry relevance.
Finally, the entire focus is to build a skilled talent force for the industry and hence the focus is on building industry relevant skills. To build each skill there are multiple exercises with the relevant rubrics for a student to demonstrate if he/she has acquired that particular skill.
Q3. Tell us about one of the moments which changed your perspective towards life?
Two moments changed my life. Firstly, I believe the opportunity to work abroad changed my life as nothing can prepare you for working in a new environment in a new culture with a different set of operating rules. You not only need to excel and master your work environment but also learn to personally adjust to the massive change that you experience all around you every day.
Secondly, the day the company I co-founded failed due to the financial crisis, I used to call it a loss, whilst my Global CEO called the loss an investment. I was always wondering how a loss can be an investment. I finally understood that concept when I was re-hired as MD for South Asia whereby the gamut of experiences I had gone through got me ready for building a strong business across South Asia.
Q4. What is the meaning of success in your terms?
Success for me is the ability to do exactly what you want to do and be exactly where you want to be, and truly become the master of your fate. Today success means for me to give my best to my students and see them become business leaders in their own right across the world. Their triumphs are my triumphs, and their failures are my failures. The joy of giving back is unparalleled and gratitude, positivity and humility are my companions for life.
Q5. You served in many big organization worldwide like Thomson Reuters, HSBC and many more. What have you learned from these Global Magnets?
I have learnt to feel complete ownership of the company in which I work for. To give every moment dedicated to the success of the company and to take every opportunity that is presented to me. I have learnt to never shirk work and to always give 300% to every assignment that I have been given, with the single-minded devotion. With this attitude one can go very far as everyone can see your commitment levels. As they say the harder you work, the luckier you get.
These companies have been truly professional and ethical and that has come into my DNA as there are very few grey areas in terms of ethics. One must always do the right thing every time. There are no shortcuts to success and there are no timeouts. It is the game of life and we are in a constant state of play.
Q6. Why maximum students in India (Even from Best Institution) choose Service/Job instead of Entrepreneurship?
I believe we are a very risk averse nation, as we are still a rapidly developing economy with large number of students coming from humble backgrounds. This means the bulk of them have had to take loans to get through college and post graduate education. This means their families have a debt burden which the student in many cases has to support his/her family to pay off. In such situations, students want to take the safe path of a job instead of venturing into entrepreneurship. Furthermore, failure is not looked at kindly by parents, family and the society at large. This is the bane of our society, where we are constantly celebrating only success and failure is hidden under the carpet. To be a nation of entrepreneurs, we need to start embracing our failures and start building our Risk muscle. It should become fashionable to fail and we must love our failures as they are the best teachers. I believe taking risks constantly is one of my most important lessons. When you take a risk and it works, you Win. If it fails, you accelerate your learning and hence you Win. So taking risks is a ‘Win Win’ solution.
Q7. Which one thing do you want to change in Education System and why?
I would like there to be more autonomy for institutions and the government should allow for innovation in the curriculum, which is the thrust of the new education policy (NEP). It is still extremely difficult getting approvals from government authorities and the system is very inflexible.
Q8. You had both academic and administrative experience in your long span of Career. Which one do you like most?
I believe whether in my corporate experience or academic experience, I try and approach both these as a professional. The corporate experience had its highs, which I thoroughly enjoyed and now I love the opportunity to shape young minds and create new leaders for the future of our country. So in essence if you asked me this question a decade ago, I would say, this is the best days of my life and I have the same answer after a decade of being an academician. These are the best days of my life.