Industrialist Aditya Vikram Somani is passionate about the arts and started Inner Courtyard in 2002 to promote emerging artistes. Our accounts manager Jerry Fernandes has been with CAP for the past 22 years and maintains a balance of accounts and lazy Goan afternoons.When industrialist and accountant got chatting, they unearthed a few golden nuggets of wisdom.
AVS: You have worked at CAP for the past 20 years. What is it about this organization that keeps you here?
JF: The support and cooperation that I have received from my superiors, the work culture and CAP’s commitment to maintaining financial transparency and accountability.
AVS: What is the personality trait that you value most in a colleague?
AVS: From your student days in Goa to your life in Mumbai presently, what is the one positive, and one negative change that you see in our world today?
JF: One positive development, according to me, is that with advanced technology the world has come nearer to our homes. On the other hand, global warming and unrest have been negative developments in recent times.
AVS:How strictly should we treat those who violate the law?
JF: I think we should implement laws in the right perspective and without any favoritism.
AVS: If you were given Rs 1 lakh to donate to charity, how would you spend it?
JF: I would give it towards the upliftment of poor children in rural areas.
AVS: If you were the Prime Minister of India what is the first issue you would address?
JF: I would attempt to bring about peace and harmony among the citizens of India.
AVS: What are your dreams for your children?
JF: I hope they become good human beings.
JF: You are the chairman of Everest Industries. How do you manage to make time for philanthropic activity?
AVS: Both my wife Padmini and I are blessed to have been born in families where serving the community has been a part of our lives since childhood, so I have never known otherwise. Philanthropy and community engagement give me a deep sense of fulfillment. It also helps me understand people. And when you enjoy something you also find the time and resources for it. Attempting positive social change is very difficult, and sometimes thankless, but finally, very fulfilling. I also encourage people in our company to make time to support their local communities.
JF: Any philanthropist who is your role model?
AVS: I am inspired by many people. Three of them are from my own family; my grandfather Venkateshwar Somani who dedicated his last three decades to creating quality education institutions, my father-in-law Narotam Sekhsaria who has invested his resources and thought leadership in capacity building in the fields of education, medicine and the arts and lastly, my wife, Padmini, whose ability to grasp the complex development issues in our country helps her to execute large-scale programs which have a huge impact.
JF: What is the importance of relationships to you? AVS: My family, friends and colleagues are my strength. I value their presence in my life and the support they give me. I endeavor to give them all I can offer.
JF: Would you allow your underage children to drive a car?
AVS: No. And I trust my children; they would never expect any illegal or unreasonable liberties.
JF: What steps would you suggest to eradicate poverty in India? AVS: Simpler laws that support and encourage private enterprise and capital creation with minimal government intervention. That will generate employment across society and eradicate poverty. Free dole only increases poverty. Complex laws create inefficiency and waste resources.
JF: Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, which actress do you prefer?
AVS: Both Priyanka and Deepika are very talented, successful and beautiful. They are role models for many young girls. I would choose Priyanka to be a brand ambassador for women's empowerment and Deepika would be great for creating awareness on child health and development issues.
JF: What inspired you to become a CAP board member?
AVS: CAP has done such good work in our society and helped nurture so many organizations. Our own charitable trusts and foundations have benefited greatly from our interactions with the late Russi Lala and now, Noshir Dadrawala. So, it was an honor to be invited to join the Board. The opportunity to build capacity motivated me to agree. I hope I am able to steer more people towards philanthropy.
JF: Now that you’re on the CAP board, do you think any changes are required to strengthen CAP further? If so, in which area?
AVS: Most people are keen to give back to society and help their communities, but they don't know how to go about it. CAP must expand its outreach to get more people connected, and build deep capacity and greater compliance and accountability in existing not-for-profit organizations.
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