Vijay Eswaran is a man of many talents and wears many hats including company executive, author, motivational speaker, entrepreneur and serial investor. He has also found a way to balance these roles with his passion for philanthropy by helping the needy in the society.
Having enjoyed numerous high profile jobs in large organizations across the world such as IBM, Vijay decided to venture into entrepreneurship which led to the cofounding of the QI group in 1998. Currently serving as the executive chair of the QI group, Mr. Eswaran has guided the e-commerce corporation to greater success both operationally and financially.
At the moment, the QI group has multiple holdings including QNET, which has facilitated the diversification of products, services, and investments.
In recent years, the QI group of companies has expanded its global presence and is now a conglomerate that has operations across various territories and countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand among others. The success of the corporation has been facilitated by its visionary leaders who provide exemplary guidance to the numerous professionals that work in its various levels of management.
Mr. Eswaran graduated from the London School of Economics in 1984 with a degree in socio-economics. After that, he stayed in Europe for a while where he did several odd jobs. He later received an MBA from the Southern Ilinois University in 1986.
Thereafter, Eswaran started working towards creating his own company which culminated in the QI group when he co-founded it in1998. The QI group of companies is an e-commerce conglomerate which has holdings in technology, direct and retail sales, leisure and lifestyle, education, collectibles and luxury, logistics, training and conference management, and property development.
The QI group of companies has its regional offices at Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Additionally, it has a presence in over 30 countries through its vast range of subsidiary companies.
In addition to Mr. Eswaran, QI group’s multi-tier management also includes Joseph Bismark, the co-founder of the organization and the current serving managing director of the entity. He has seen to the exponential growth of the conglomerate including its expansion into new ventures such as healthy living and organic food products.
Beyond Organizational Management
Vijay Eswaran is Malaysian by nationality, and his name is prefixed with the title ‘Dato,’ which is equivalent to Knighthood, an honor bestowed in Malaysia. One of the most striking things about Vijay is that he follows the principles of ‘ahimsa’ – which refers to non-violence, its scope also includes ethical behavior. These are virtues which Mahatma Gandhi practiced and preached.
The businessman says he still practices Gandhian principles in today’s corporate world, which is known for its dog-eat-dog infamy, where ethics tend to take a backseat to power and profits.
Vijay Eswaran has also authored several books, including the famed ‘The Sphere of Silence,’ which he describes as today’s tool for achieving success. Eswaran says that the book was synthesized from ancient wisdom that stems from the Vedic concept of practicing silence. This concept, Vijay says, does not conform to any particular religion. He describes India as a 4,000-year-old consciousness that has permeated the planet. In addition to praising India’s brilliance, the business magnate speaks about the importance of silence in our everyday lives while emphasizing on the significance of seeing and listening, instead of talking; thoughts that are in line with Mahatma Gandhi’s.
Mr. Eswaran maintains that spending one hour in the sphere of silence each day allows us to slow down and analyze where we are and what we are aiming for. This practice comprises three paths: Knowledge, duty, and devotion. He says that this practice facilitates the freeing of our mind. This, to the mind, is akin to physical exercise to the body. As such, the Sphere of Silence is applicable in all fields and endeavors but is particularly vital in the discipline of leadership and management.
Difficulties when getting started
When he began his entrepreneurial journey, Eswaran found that nothing was in his favor. He had no family, connections, or funding from anyone. At the time, Asia was undergoing a terrible financial crisis, and no one believed he could succeed.
What he had, however, was the conviction that his life was not destined for big things. Luckily, he was able to find like-minded partners in addition to his wife’s unwavering support. Together, they faced numerous failures and setbacks. Vijay still faces challenges today and believes he will continue seeking them out to the very end. He believes that without a challenge, there is no progress.
Eswaran started the journey with a direct selling business which is an industry that constantly faces perception challenges. To Vijay, challenges are an intrinsic part of success, just like shadows are to light. How does he deal with them? He embraces them. There is no other way. Success and failure, to him, are both prerequisite elements in the path to personal and financial growth.
Vijay Eswaran Future Plans
Vijay Eswaran insists that his sights are focused on inspiring a new generation of Malaysian entrepreneurs, professionals, and innovators.
Eswaran used his immense success to found a world-class university in his native Malaysia. He has been on the forefront on the drive towards better higher education in South East Asia. He annotates that his mission remains the same: To make QI University the ‘Harvard of the East.’
The Quest International University is already attracting the brightest minds across South East Asia and is looking to entice world-leading lecturers and researchers from overseas to breed the new generation of Malaysian professionals.
Vijay understands education’s power as a modernizing and progressive force that is critical for the prosperity of the region.
His vision for the University is akin in stature to that of Swami Vivekananda, the great Indian philosopher’s vision – ‘man-making is my mission.’ Similarly, Mr. Eswaran believes that the perfection that is in men can only be manifested through education. This is the belief that drives him towards contributing to an idealized future.
As part of this idealized future, the businessman has committed the QI group of companies to designing the QI Edu City – a RM 1.2 billion residential and commercial development with QI University at its heart.
QI Edu City will contain a shopping mall, hospital, convention center, apartment complexes, hotel suites, and more. The project was officially initiated in September 2016.
Vijay’s roadmap for the university consists of incredible plans. Some of them include having an environmentally friendly campus that is carbon neutral.
At the moment, QI has enrolled students from over 25 countries, which inches the university closer towards being a truly international university.
Vijay’s Leadership Style
To Eswaran, leadership isn’t telling people what to do; it is about serving. His leadership philosophy is about servant leadership. Having learned about ‘service above self’ at a young age from his father, Vijay still incorporates the same philosophy as head of a conglomerate.
The business guru says that a true servant leader puts the needs of his people above their own in service towards a higher purpose. He is heavily influenced by leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Mahatma Gandhi. They were all ordinary people that became extraordinary leaders because they found their purpose in serving others.
To Vijay, these are the qualities that separate servant leaders from other types of leaders:
Eswaran strongly believes that an organization isn’t defined by its products but by the people who work for it. A leader that takes good care of their people doesn’t have to worry about poor customer service. Taking care of your people will see them take good care of your customers.
Servant leaders, therefore, recognize they are placed in this world along with other people for a purpose. And that none of the people you meet is by mere coincidence. Servant leaders care without constraints and restraint.
- Clarity of Vision
Eswaran says that in order for you to understand your purpose, you need a clear vision so that you can focus on your objectives. Therefore, it is imperative that you communicate clearly to your team to unite them towards a common goal. When your team sees that its leader knows what he or she is doing and where they are headed, it is likely to be more engaged and involved.
A servant leader provides a clear vision for everyone. This enables them to know their individual roles and feel that their part is essential to achieving the vision.
- Core Values
According to Vijay, values serve as the pillars that support the entire system of servant leadership. Your core values are what define who you are as an organization and as a leader.
Honesty, compassion, truth, and acceptance are among the most intrinsic core values shared among servant leaders. This philosophy entails an unwavering commitment towards these values. They are what will serve as the light that dispels darkness when it inevitably appears to derail your vision. As such, core values should not be merely marketing buzzwords; they need to represent what the organization stands for.
- Commitment to Growth
Your time is the most significant investment that you can make in your people. When you devote your time to developing them personally as well as professionally, it reveals your genuine interest towards them. They realize they are not merely cogs in the wheel that is your business.
Servant leaders assist their people into becoming the best versions of themselves while creating a growth culture in the company.
- Creating a will to Sacrifice
Almost all individuals regarded as servant leaders did not ask to lead. Leadership, instead, was thrust upon them. These were people who were ready to give up, sacrifice, surrender, or do whatever it took for the greater good. A willingness to sacrifice anything for the cause is an immensely powerful tool that unites everyone and inspires them. Nevertheless, success always has a painful price; and it has to be paid. Every leader developing their strategy has to recognize this fact as a practical consideration.
Eswaran believes you lead by actions rather than by words. However challenging it is, it is still the most rewarding path to leadership.
On other Philosophies that Vijay holds dear
In his book ‘Two Minutes From The Abyss,’ he urges people not to take their lives for granted. He emphasizes the fact that one could die at any moment and there is not a guarantee for life.
— Vijay Eswaran (@VjayEswaran) May 15, 2018
Nevertheless, people tend to miss out on rare opportunities while sacrificing the present because they think they will be alive for many more years. However, Eswaran maintains that one can accomplish more by acknowledging the impermanence of our lives and embracing urgency.
Eswaran advises his readers against paying attention to praise or criticism as these are not what reflect your worth. He believes that parents, friends, cultural norms, and instincts are what shape each person.
The tycoon encourages people to embrace the continuity of change while practicing independent decision making. A person who refuses to grow through change risks becoming irrelevant or redundant. Nonetheless, your transformation is not supposed to happen at the expense of your morals.
Eswaran explains that genuine change does not come easily. Relinquishing well-established habits is very difficult. However, when a lot of people are simultaneously undergoing the same change, it is easier as they will help and encourage each other. Also, it is not wise to continue seeking the company of those not willing to change.
Nevertheless, the prosperous entrepreneur is quick to quip that change doesn’t always enhance your life. It can also inflict pain and develop detrimental habits. However, the recovery process often revitalizes a person in spectacular ways.
Mr. Eswaran recognizes that fear is not always the enemy. It has the ability to spur people into action and recognize the significant things in life. Anxiety might warn individuals to avoid certain situations or places, but it can also highlight opportunities for self-improvement.
Vijay warns people against letting their egos prevent them from acquiring knowledge. A person only learns when they abandon the egotistical belief that no one can teach them something new.
People are happier and become more successful when they limit their expectations. Ego causes a lot of people to have high expectations. This often leads to transactional thinking and disappointments. Eswaran says you shouldn’t always expect others to behave honestly or appreciate kindness. Find Vijay on Facebook.