Sunday, October 5, 2008

Prim@Farim - A Good Man I Know, A True Malaysian, Too!

Prim aka Farim was a client when he was in Maybank. Now he is a friend. A wonderful person; let me elaborate. His expensive pair of Bally shoes were stolen after Friday prayers. Most people will get furious, typical Prim, he smiled and said that the thief probably needed the money more than he (Prim) needed the shoes and he walked away barefooted smiling :)

So do read on ....

Saturday October 4, 2008
The long road to success
Taken from The Star BizWeek

Life is never easy, says Prim Kumar @ Farim Umar, president and chief technology officer of Dibta Group, but it can also be one long journey of discovery and learning.

“PLEASE come to my open house on the first day of Raya,” says Prim, barely five minutes into the interview. This friendly man’s warm personality can put anyone at ease.

Dibta Group’s humble office is cozy and minimalistic. Prim explains that most of his staff works from home, therefore the office is relatively small. With offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin, Jakarta and Malaysia, you’d expect Prim to be a busy man running the show. But his eldest son Faroze Nadar helps him out in his regional business of setting up corporate universities for clients like Shanghai Volkswagen and Maybank, so he can take some time out once in a while to enjoy the fruit of his labour.

Learning from the school of hard knocks

“It’s hard to believe that many years ago, I walked almost 3 km along this little road to school,” he says while gesturing towards the window that overlooks a construction area. “I stayed at Old Klang Road and my school was right across the other side.”

Prim studied till Form Five; he had to stop schooling due to financial reasons. To help his family out, he had to work in a sawmill. And as luck would have it, he inherited a roti canai stall.

“I learnt the basics from my uncle who left me the stall and I started out with RM10 to buy the ingredients. I did this for three years and through the three years I experimented with different types of recipes for my roti. Making roti canai is a skill I am proud of till today,” says Prim, who proudly says his roti canai have been enjoyed in China, the US, Japan and South Korea.

“My friends and colleagues will demand it whenever I visit them in their home countries and I am more than happy to oblige.” But manning the stall didn’t stop him from studying. He’d study in the public library from 12 pm to 6 pm, following which he would work in the sawmill, carrying bags of saw dust to earn extra income for the family. Then he would go home and prepare the ingredients and dough for his roti canai stall for the next day.

A new direction

Through his hard work and determination, he finally completed his Form Six and by which time, he managed to secure a job in Motorola. “I was hired as a factory hand but within a few years I was promoted to a managerial position in the operations side. And while working for Motorola, I obtained my Masters with the help of the company. I used to go for weekend classes while working. I was very aggressive,” he says.

But something happened that changed his perspective of life. “There was an opening for a higher position and there were two others vying for it. The two were my friends. I wanted the job so badly that I actually bad-mouthed them. In the end, when the company hired someone else I realised I did something really bad,” he says.

He took a week off and told his wife he was going for a short holiday by himself.
He took a bus where he met a stranger who recommended him a spot somewhere near Kuala Besut where he stayed for the next six days. He stayed with a fisherman who taught him a thing or two about life. “We had meals together and when I saw him sharing a fish with his children, I asked myself when was the last time I had dinner with my family? I was so focused on work that I neglected everything else. I went home a changed man,” he says.

“When I went back to work, a colleague of mine approached me and asked if I wanted to be a trainer. I said yes immediately. I wanted to teach and impart knowledge to the future generation,” he says, while adding that it was ironic that he taught university graduates when he himself had not been to a university.

A sign

After being in Motorola for 25 years, Prim decided that he should go in search for greener pastures. He eventually joined Maybank to set up their corporate university and after two years in Maybank, he planned to go to China.
Within the next few days, a friend of his from China called and told him that she’s got a contract to provide training for a large Chinese company and wanted him to be part of it.

“It was like a sign. It was too much of a coincidence,” says Prim who believes everything happens for a reason. He packed his bags up and headed to China. Unfortunately, the deal fell through and he was left with almost nothing. “It was so bad that we had guys coming to tow our cars off. Just imagine that for someone who was earning a five-figure salary and could afford three cars, I suddenly had nothing,” he says.

“But on the last few days when I was in China, I learnt one of my biggest lessons in life from a beggar. I wanted to take a picture of her because she looked like my daughter but she hid behind a car when I tried. When the translator asked her what was wrong and she said “What would this foreigner’s countrymen think of China if he were to take a picture of me like this?” I remember those words till today clearly because this girl, a beggar, was still proud of her country. But I had lost my investments and wanted to give in...?” he recalls.

Lucky for Prim who persevered in China, he did make back what he lost and more. “I am glad I stayed on because I’ve learnt so much from China. Their sense of pride in their country is amazing,” he says. Dibta Group has since gone from one office in China to several countries in the region.

Closet Poet

As busy as he is, Prim still finds time to pursue his interest. “I like writing poems and I chat a lot on Skype. What I usually do is write poems spontaneously over the chat program. I also like cooking for my family. Of course, I make my famous roti canai whenever I have time,” he says. He also confides that he would like to write a book.

His philosophy in life is to keep an open heart and learn from everything. “Of course, there are gurus who teach marketing and give those rousing talks to thousands of people, but I found in my life the greatest gurus are fishermen and beggars,” he says.

“Life will never be easy. It’s like the mountains. After scaling one mountain, you’ll find there will be a bigger mountain before you. But what makes this journey worthwhile is that you stop and smell the flowers. Sometimes you have to look for these flowers, but I believe you will always find what you look for,” he smiles.
“And life is such that you won’t know when you have go back to that little 3 km road you have to walk every day in the hot sun. So always be grateful of what you have and appreciate them,” Prim says while looking out from his comfortable air-conditioned office.

1 comment:

Lois said...

Prim lives his life in a way that inspires me.