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"Constantly Evolving" is more important than "Constancy" for achieving goals

By : Guest on 29 March 2013 E-mail Comments     Print Print  Report Abuse

Our Team had the opportunity to meet a Corporate Employee and MBA turned  Nomadic Traveller-Adam Pervez, who has traversed more that 66 countries. Just like millions of others, he is an Engineer and an MBA, and had a career with Corporates for a while. But he has taken some of the off-beaten roads to volunteer and serve this world a purpose. He is also a budding writer and passionate advocate.His purpose for the world is as colourful as the shades of Holi and he cherises his every passing day of travel.



Here is what he shared with us in a very candid meeting:


MCI: You have travelled some odd 66 countries. Why does travel fascinate you so much via-a-vis a corporate job? And what management lesson would you derive out of travelling?


Adam: I think traveling has infinite complexity. Let’s take India as an example. What do people in Punjab and Tamil Nadu have in common? Almost nothing. So out of more than 190 countries, you have a huge mix of interesting things to understand and explore.


The corporate world is only interested in making money. There may be a mission and vision statement, but in the end their responsibility is to return as much wealth to shareholders as is possible.


As a traveler I go to each place trying to learn as much as I can and leave each place better than how I found it. In the end i want to start my own non-profit organization. For me travelling not only interesting, it is like understanding humanity and understanding what the problems and issues of people are so I can help them as best as I can in the future.


Management lesson: As a traveler you have to be very disciplined; there are going to be things that you cannot control. There are things that are going to come up, everything you can imagine. You are going to get in a bind. So you have to be very disciplined and make the most out of every situation. You have to learn to trust your instinct and gut.


I have been traveling 600 days on road, and I have spent less than $800 on the accommodation, or about Rs.70 per day. I have been outsourcing a lot of my travel and the less I spend on accommodation , the more I can experience other things.


MCI: You lead a very different life from most of the job trotting MBAs. What are some of the skills the MBA curriculum taught you which influence your nomadic life?


Adam: I think negotiation is the biggest one. You can imagine I have to negotiate everything here in India, from rickshaws to buying bananas, etc. It’s the same in every country. And the other skill is problem solving. An MBA, in the end, is all about problem solving. You have to do a lot of problem solving on the road. Not knowing what to do in various situations is a daily occurance.


Whether solving a case in business school or solving a problem you encounter as a traveler, the same processes apply. You have to analyze the situation and try and pick the best outcome. I think there are a lot of parallels but maybe you use different parts of your brain. A business case is more cut and dry, but with real life who knows what is going on? There are a lot of complexities and things you cannot control.


MCI: You have found very different ways of helping the needy around the world, such as trying to raise $1000 per inch of your locks for cancer suffering children. Wish if everyone could find their little ways to make the world a better place. Please share a story that would motivate our readers to give out a helping hand.


Adam: When I was in Peru I came in contact with an amazing woman. She was 67 years old and she retired five years ago from teaching. She was teaching in the capital city, Lima. She decided she wanted to spend her retirement trying to help the village she was born in. 


She comes from a village deep in the Andes Mountains, 3000 meters high, where electricity just came 10 years ago. They had no library, no internet, and little contact with the outside world. So she decided her mission was to build a library in her village, because as an educator she realizes how important books are. She sees the world changing so fast and at a minimum those kids need books to keep pace. 


She built a library in the town, its first and the only library for miles and miles. But then she realized many kids would have to walk 3 hours just to get to the library. Now she is building libraries in all the elementary schools in the surrounding areas. The lesson here is that she had a very traditional career, 30 years of teaching. But it does not matter how old you are, what your expertise is, or what your background is. You can make a difference somehow. For her, her passion was her village, reading, and helping her community. So whatever you are passionate about, whether it’s animals, poverty, women’s rights, education, etc., draw inspiration from her and make a difference.


MCI: Did she do everything on her own?


Adam: Of course she got help, but she is the focal point. She organized everything. She is also doing initiatives in Lima. There is a lot of urban poverty and she is working with a construction company to provide a library for its employees so they can take books home to their children. Wherever she is she has the same passion. Maybe her impact is not huge, it’s just one village and one construction company, but you never know what will happen, she might be helping the future President of Peru. At a minimum, she’s trying to break the poverty cycle and inculcate a culture of reading for children whose minds are universally curious. Hopefully that leads them to a better life.


MCI: Education system is changing , or rather adapting very fast. What do you think should be the future of the way lessons are being taught in B-schools around the world?


Adam: There needs to be more experiential learning. There are cases, which is fine. But no matter where the school is located, there is a lot of stuff in the community that students could learn from. Some schools run programs where students do a consulting project for a local company as part of the curriculum. That’s great, but I think this concept could go so much further.


MBAs are seen as just concerned about money, profit and loss, etc. Through such a consulting project the students could instead work on solving an issue in the community. It could help tech empathy, compassion, and social service. The same skills are needed to solve whatever problem is at hand, but the empathy and compassion are a bonus that they won’t get in the rest of the program.


MCI: You have been traversing Indian lands for a while now, what is the prominent management style that you have observed here?


Adam: It is very hard to say, as I have not  spent much time in offices, and India is very different from North to South and East to West.


MCI: Any management style that you have observed?


Adam: I think there is a very top-down approach here. Maybe it’s due to the rigid hierarchy embedded within the caste system, or the unquestioning nature of parent-child relationships and the constant desire to please elders? You probably wouldn’t touch a CEO’s feet, but by extension you’d probably never question him or her either.


This seems like the ultimate creativity/productivity killer in my opinion. It would seem harder to make change happen, harder to progress in such a system. 


MCI: You have raised a very important point, and what you are trying to say is that there should be a more open door policy, which is not here in India.


Adam: I don’t think you’ll find companies in India where the CEO has a cubicle like everybody else. In a lot of companies in Europe or the USA you can see CEOs sitting alongside the lowest-level analyst. Such openness fosters more creativity, more dialogue, more exchanges of ideas, and more creativity in my opinion.


MCI: What are some of the skills that your MBA curriculum taught you which influence your present professional life? 


Adam: I took a lot of classes in CSR and social entrepreneurship. I was lucky enough to go a business school that had these classes. This influenced me a lot and showed me a different perspective on business. I’ve applied some of what I learned in some projects I’ve worked on as a volunteer during my journey. Like I already said, it’s all about problem solving.


MCI: And of course, negotiation skills.


MCI: Traveling so much must be changing your perspectives towards life and its events very often. Do you not feel a lack of constancy in yourself?


Adam: I do not think so. I would say that I am constantly evolving, so there is some constancy in that. When I was in the corporate world I had goals and a vision of who I wanted to be but I was never really getting closer to those goals. Now, given what I’m doing with my life, I feel like I’m constantly getting closer to my goals. Still, it’s a life-long process. I am constantly trying to become a better person and do better things with my life. I feel like I am on the right track now, but earlier I wasn't.


MCI: Lastly, is your message for MBAclubindia Members and Readers?


Adam: Fight the social pressure. I never understood social pressure until I got to India. I would say go through the same process that I went through: look within, figure out who you are as a person, what drives you, what your motivations and passions are, and go after it. I think you will be more successful if you are pursuing what you are good at what you are happy doing, as opposed to what might give you the best career or what profession makes the most money. 


It is a harder road to travel and can be very lonely, but it is also infinitely rewarding if you are happy doing what you are doing.


MCI: It was great talking to you Adam, Thank You once again, for giving time to MBAclubindia. 


Meeting a class of IITians at Gandhinagar


Read more About Adam Pervez here:


You may also like his Facebook page here:

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