Pravasi Express sat with Arun Sundar, who is known well to quite a lot of Singapore Malayalees as an active Malayalees In Singapore(MIS) member. However his standing as one of the eminent Technology visionary and thinker is lesser known by most. A fleeting scan in the technology media would return umpteen technology commentaries, articles and interviews with Arun on myriad subjects ranging from Artificial Intelligence, Analytics, Business Philosophy and others.
Arun moved to Singapore with his family seven years back to manage Marketing and Business Expansion for HCL Technologies’ Asia Pacific business. Three years into the role, Arun was a part of the leadership team of HCL that grew it into a multiple billion dollar business in Asia. Post that he moved on to lead the team that built TrustSphere, a well-respected analytics technology business. TrustSphere under his leadership has grown to be known around the world as a proof of innovation and next generation technology from Singapore with clients including some of the largest corporations in the world. TrustSphere’s growth is now a subject of a Harvard Business School Case study and the Harvard team has been speaking to the leadership team including Arun to understand the story of this Singapore start-up rising to prominence. Arun is also the founding chairman of the Asia Analytics Alliance (the trade association which involves analytics players in Asia including Google, Amazon, Telstra etc).
When asked about him and his success, he attributes to his parents, his better half, a loving circle of family & friends and his background of “an average Malayalee middle class family”. He is quick to remind us that he believes in the statement Lalu Alex made in ABCD, that ‘the best university in the world is the upbringing and education that a middle class kid is bestowed with in Kerala’. He is a staunch believer that his generation is a rare one, that we got exposed to the tradition and culture of our parents and the unique possibilities of the ‘new world’. His belief and research on the impact of this background led him to conceptualize a philosophy that “the world’s currency is not financial capital, but social capital’. He and his wife Neelima has founded a Social Enterprise called ‘Social Capital Institute’ (www.thesocialcapitalinstitute.com) with the motto of evangelizing this concept. The concept has been gaining a wide acceptance around the world with media houses and Academic community from around the world taking note, he is currently co-authoring a thesis with a Harvad educated world famous corporate anthropologist. Arun was recently invited to deliver a TEDx talk in India about this philosophy and movement.
When asked about all this, in Arun’s own words “I have been a very lucky person to have the opportunity to be exposed to various cultures, businesses and opportunities. The middle class Malayalee upbringing, aside to inspiring you to work smart, teaches you to be mindful, meaningful and above all ‘play it cool’ – the value of this upbringing cannot be understated”
Asked of his ambition, he says ‘Ambition isn’t a destination, rather a journey, an evolution and state of mind which I am already living. I just wish this journey evolves further and I am able to create more meaningful impact and relevance. The Social Capital Institute is a broad umbrella in those lines’. Arun specifically is keen on how technology can benefit the masses, especially the under-privileged and makes the world better’. In a recent interview with Infosys, Arun was quoted as saying ‘Almost all problems in the world can be seen as technology problems. The advantage of doing that is, every time humans have had a technology problem, it has been fixed’
Arun has been investing and advising start-ups which build technology with this objective. For example a start-up which he invested, help conceptualize and grow ‘Filmwallas.com’ aims at connecting talent which goes unnoticed to opportunity. The technology leverages artificial intelligence to do that and has already garnered the excitement of luminaries in Bollywood like Prakash Jha and Lal in Malayalam.
Arun and Neelima have two kids – 8 year old Ananya and 2 year old Noan. Doesn’t managing so many endeavors coupled with his travels around the world almost every month strain him and his family? He says ‘Absolutely not, the trick is to have multiple dimensions at any given time. It adds color to life. I can never do just one regular job’. Asked about family ‘They are the most precious, everything is a distant second. Having a wonderful family gets my baseline rock solid. Once you have a strong base you can just dance along. I might fall down but they will be with me not for what I can be, but what I am’. His wife too completely agrees that he always finds enough time for the family and everything else to him is a distant second priority. Arun’s sister Smitha and her husband Nivesh too live in Singapore.
By quoting Sai Kumar’s dialogue in a recent movie,” You can see Malayalees at any corner of the world, that’s not a joke. Malayalees have made their empire in every part of the world by their determination and hard work“. Arun Sundar is another perfect example for these words. Team PravasiExpress using this opportunity to wish all the success to Arun Sundar for his future endeavours.