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Corporate Leader to Philanthropic Entrepreneur

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

by Vijayakumar | 22 Feb 2018

After working for thirty years with Oil and Gas industry, I had a planned exit out of familiar corporate environment by end 2016.

The immediate thing I wanted to do was to enjoy a good break before jumping in to next action. I tried a couple of things before I started my own consulting company ( that serves as a platform for Executive Coaching, Management Consultancy and Training.

The intent of this write up is to share my reflections and experience during this journey.

In my opinion, a good break should be sufficient enough for a person to disengage completely from routine tasks, conversations, engagements, familiar people dynamics thereby helping the person to slow down, providing ample opportunity to have a high-quality reflection.

This is a golden period which, if utilized properly brings transformation in an individual and helps them to gain tremendous insights on perceived priorities, fears and challenges, society-imposed measure of success etc and helps to tap on native hidden strengths, wisdom and gain new perspectives in life.

All good things have an expiry date and I naturally reached a stage of having to take a break from break. It was tempting to get back to a familiar corporate setting and continue doing what I used to do in a different environment and label it as a change.

However, my self-enquiry and exploration clearly pointed me to move to a stage where I will be able to give back to society, support business leaders by listening to them and asking questions that make them stop and think, sharing my experience on what worked and most importantly learning from my mistakes ( in simple words Executive Coaching), supporting young talents to have an early head start by being available as a mentor & coach.

The Journey

1. Start speaking the language which everyone understands

Sounds simple and basic? Think again, working for a big organisation invariably augments your vocabulary when multiple 3 , 4 or 5 letter acronyms are taken for granted as universally understood terms. I will name a few acronyms from my earlier place of work to give a feel. IDP, CEP, IPF, BPF, GPA, GTKY to name a few.

First thing to do when you are out in the world outside your corporate cocoon, is to start using normal language that is universally understood.

2. Redefine “Network”

While in a corporate environment, most of the network one develops will be internal, as getting connected and knowing the right person is extremely important for getting noticed, advancing in one’s career etc. Once you are out of this perceived corporate universe, you realize that the world is much bigger and those who we thought as most important person to network is not of much relevance in the world outside the cocoon.

Build network outside your work and company circle. The more diverse the network, the better. In my case, the decision to be an entrepreneur is also accompanied by change in geography as I set my company in India after being an expatriate for 22 years. The strong relationship that I developed during my university days and early part of my career came to my immediate support. I am grateful for having friends who readily welcomed me in to their business world and helped me to build the network.

3. Gain Certification

You might have been born and say that you exist. But, there are occasions when people /system will look for a piece of paper (Birth Certificate) to prove that you exist. Same goes for certification of professional experience.

I went ahead and got certified as a Project Management Professional and signed up for a certification as a professional Executive Coach

4. Develop a solid Business Plan

With a good amount of time in hand to plan, I developed a business plan that helped me to get ideas in head get transferred to a piece of paper and improvise it on a continual basis. Life gets interesting with you playing Finance Manager, Business Development Manager, Project Manager, Marketing Manager and Sales Manager and Contracts Manager, IT Manager at this stage.

Culmination of the above is a complete business that has mapped the journey for starting up, running, stabilizing and growing over the next few years.

5. Work as Volunteer (Optional)

I worked for an NGO in Malaysia called Nation Organisation for Dyslexia Malaysia ( , as a volunteer for Project Management Institute Malaysia -PMIMY ( and as a mentor for Futurelab ( which gave me good insights on non-profit ways of conducting business , running an organisation and associated stakeholder and people dynamics.

This experience is important, if the field of consultancy that you choose require significant pro bono work and for you to orient and act in truly “Giving Back” to the society mode.

I hope this is helpful for someone who is thinking along the lines of the quote on the top ” The purpose of life is the life of Purpose” by Robin Sharma.

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