Spanish Newspaper Cinco Dias interviewed Vijay Eswaran in Madrid when he was visiting to attend the QI-IBF world championship. A translated version of the article below.
Paz Álvarez/MADRID (23/09/06)
There was a substantial waiting period to meet with this businessman and it was necessary for me to talk to two of his Directors for more than an hour about his company, before Vijay Eswaran, a businessman born in Malaysia 45 years ago made an appearance in this Madrid hotel room.
He is visiting Spain this week among other reasons to attend the Badminton World Championship, sponsored by his company, the QI Group. The Group which works on an an e-commerce platform counts a great variety of products, that range from gold, numismatics, collectibles, training and tourism. Besides, he is also the author of the book called “In the Sphere pf Silence” where he shares the tool to his success.
Can you explain to us the secret recipe to success in the business world?
If only there existed a secret, someone would have found it by now. The real secret is that each person must find its own recipe. The problem is not with the success itself. The most dangerous is to be successful the very first time. Is better to fail before one succeeds because that is the best way to learn. The most important thing, whether you succeed or fail, is always what you learn along the way. The worst failure is to be trapped in success. I would define this process as crossing a mountain and a valley. It’s necessary to leave the valley to cross the mountain. For me, the mountain and the valley are both beautiful. Usually, I leave one and enter the other. The mountain is now very high and we just have to work towards getting to the top.
Do you think there exists many differences between Asian companies and European companies?
I think that they can learn from each other. In Europe, it is possible to work as an island without knowing the names of your neighbours. It is something cultural. They should learn to work more with people. The strength of the European companies is their system and power of organization, but they put so many barriers. In Spain, the situation is different because it is the entrance to Central and South America. There was a time that Spain dominated the world and that must be taken into account. The past is very important because if we know where we come from, we will know where we are going. Asia has culture and history and it is necessary to take advantage of that.
In Europe there exists a certain enterprise worry about the emerging Asian markets.
It doesn’t surprise me. Two thirds of the world population are in Asia. Europe is good at building frontiers, but in these times it is absurd to do that with the aim to thwart globalization. Why do we not take advantage of this? If you can’t win them, then join them. Fortunately, the new generation is going to have of a problem with these differences due to the rise of the Internet and e-commerce that have changed everything.
Do you think businesses should have a more humanist approach?
I have lived outside Asia for more than 13 yars and even now I spend a great deal of time outside of Asia. I was in the United States for seven years and I can tell you that there are companies there that are totally dedicated to its people.
For eg, the supermarket chain, Wal-Mart is totally focussed on its employees and their needs and development. I read recently that their company president even drives his own car instead of being chauffer driven. They know that their employees are their strength and they take care of their people since their success depends on people.
And you, how do you take care of your employees?
I should tell you about the eleven directors that form our Board of Directors. They have seven different passports amonst them. We have a very international profile of people. Our people are diversified but united by one philosophy. We come from different experiences, cultures and social levels, and despite the diversity, we are all iunited by one philosophy and vision – Raise Yourself To Help Mankind. Besides they are very well remunerated!
“Success is not only a charge account”
You say that you first guru was your father.
Of course. My parents are independent people and they instilled in me the importance of being independent. They are very open people know how to live together with other cultures. They are very passionate about music and literature. At home we have always discussed all sorts of topics including religious discussion about verses from Bible to Koran. I believe that they instilled in me the right values. They were my first gurus or teachers. Later in life, I have been influenced by others like Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King. In the business world my gurus are Michael Dell, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson. But success is not only a charge account.
Do you believe that the Spanish businessmen are ready to compete with this globalized world that you represent?
Absolutely. Besides they have an important advantage- their history and their past, and the only thing to do is to use it all to their advantage. It wasn’t by accident that the Spaniards conquered half the world at one time. There are so many others conquering the world in other fields today from Spain. There is the example of Enrique Iglesias, Pedro Almodovar and Picasso!
You say that you once dreamed that you will create a big enterprise group. Have these dreams can be true?
I would say it was not a specific dream, it was just a question of necessity. It was like a reaction to a situation where I needed to succeed. We started as a consultancy for the direct sales industry. We were fascinated with the concept and we thought that was going to be a great idea, but unfortunately we started and the company failed. The next step was to combine the power of e-commerce and direct sales and offer a new type of service. Usually, in every crisis situation, one gets an opportunity. In these last few years I have had to overcome many such challenges.
You have imposed on the company the policy to be vegetarian.
To eat meat is also a cultural imposition. It is a message that I have transferred to my company. It is not something cultural or spiritual, but simple because we want to contribute to saving the planet.
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