VO L.2 I ISSUE 3 I JA N. - MAR. 200 9 I IND I '" Rs .

125 I US $6 I UK £3 I UAE AED 2 5
C
arl Schurz believed that are I!ke
stars: you will not succeed In touching
them with your hands. But like the
seafaring man on the desert of waters, Y?Y,l..
choose them as your guides . and following
them .. . vou will reach your destiny." Here is
one man'who every young Indian would love
to choose as his or her ideal. He's a wi nncr with
astory. .. of'achieving beyond aspirailons... of
exceeding personal expectations .. .of rising
way above limitations! His is the success saga
that is weaved through the most resplendent
threads of extraordinary human intelligence;
prolific ambition ; dedication to dreams and
beyond. Dr Shan Nair is an enormously
research scientist in the UK nuclear
industry; a path-breaking engineer; an
except ioual ly intel l igent and efficient
entrepreneur and a truly refined human being.
He is indeed the perfect role model I ideal. . .
whatever one may call him for the millions of
young Indians waiting to define their destiny
and fulfilling their dreams. He befits the
example of a modem day achiever... who
cannot restrict his achievements to just one
domain and who tests his own nerves to attain
a lot more than what destiny has ordained for
him. He plays the game by his own rules; is
never a conformist: he's flexibIeand adaptable
to change and progress; and ever remains in
pursuit ofthe remarkable. Dr Shan Nair's story
is that ofone such achiever, who'll never faiIto
enthuse today's young generation that's so
ostensibly filled with great expectations and
inexhaustibleambition.
With his eyes on the stars and his feet firmlyon
the ground. Dr Shan Nair has achieved a lot
more than just his simple dreams. It was only
yesterday when he dared to struggle and it is
today.. .when he dares to win! Shun Nair didn't
want to end up with a story that was only
mediocre: he always aspired for something
grand. Courtesy his rare intelligence and a
dogged approach ... achievements beckoned
himon every road that he took and he chased
thcmtill he made them his very own. One road
ledtotheother as Shan Nair tireiessly marched
onwards and upwards. With a plethora of
achievements and a sound reputation , he soon
'became recognizable as a role model Indian.
However, this did not in any way, subdue his
desire for more, And Shan Nair continued to
aspire and achieve.. .In fact. he still continues
to do so! His constant journey to success
makes one to believe, these famous words by
GeorgeBernard Shaw: "Some men see things
as th; y arc and say, "Why?" I dream of things
that never were and say. "Why not?" That he
subscribes to these words is so evident; and his
belief in them reflects best in his illustrious
and vivid career. It shows in the vanous
distinctions earned by the man all through his
journey ... asa renowned research scientist , an
invent ive engineer and a dynamic
entrepreneur.
With a doctorate degree In Nuclear Physics at
Oxford University, Shan Nair began his career
as a research scientist in the UK nuclear
industry. He was instrumental in developing a
code which set the UKstandard for caleulating
waste arising from spent nuclear fuel, and
when the Chernobyl accident occurred. Dr
Nair was one or'the two UK technical experts
assisting the European Commission... of its
post-accident response. After the privatization
of the UK power generation industry in the
early I990s, he retrained as an accountant
within the industry. And after a short spell as a
quality consultant to UK legal practices, Shan
Nair set up Nair & Co. Inc. in
1994, jointly with his wife
VyornaNair. Nair &Co, Inc. of
which Dr Shan Nair is the Co­
Founder & President; provides
businesses with an integrated
solution in the HR, finance,
tax, compliance and legal
ar enas. It works towards
making a company's move
overseas less ri sky, stress free
and more strategic.
Headquartered in the United
Kingdom, it now has 700+
c l ie n t operations in 40
countries with considerable
presence in the U.S. It has
offices in California, Florida,
Mas sachusetts , and North
Carolina . Shan Nair is
responsibl e for the Overall
development of the Group, its
policies, strategies and goals,
and has driven the company's
strong focus on using IT to
leverage business advantage.
YOUNG BOY NAIR!
But Shan Nair's journey is
more fascinating when you
picture it from the very start.
His progression and growth
have been commendable all
along; and the choices he made
have ensured to place him in a highly
venerab Ie position today. As a young teenager,
Dr Nair was always interested in physics. So,
he enrolled in the prestigious Ox ford
University to do a Physics undergraduate. "I
wanted (0 continue towards a PhD at Oxford,"
he tells you. "my interests being in nuclear
Physics and Astra Physics." BUI because Nair
was an Indian citizen at that time, he did not
qualify [or any U.K grants to do the PhD.
"There was however," he further narrates,
"this one grant offered by the U.K. Atomic
Energy Authority in conjunction with Oxford
University for PhD on a particular topic
relating to nuclear physics ." He continues,
"There were about a lot ofnon U.K. candidates
applying for it, I was lucky enough to get it,"
says Nair. However, there were challenges
strewn on his path and the first was that in
research 99% of it is less exciting stuff and
only I% is really brilliant mental thinking or
NRI ACHIEVERS I JANUARY - MARCH 09 I 19
"l wanted to continue
towards a PhD at Oxford,
my interests bei ng in nuclear
Physics and Astro Physics."
"This sounds a bit exotic but
it's a particular mathematical
problem that required a
solution and that was
actually the best aspect of
doing that code. That's
where I got excited. "
' ,1
"The defining moment)n my
career as a research scientist
was the Chemobyl
accident. "
"I thought to myself, why
should I be staying in this
organization long term. If I
was not going to do original
research, I thought, I might
as well work for myself."
original work. So, the challenge before Nair
was to actually get thro ugh to the 1%. "When
you analyze the data and start interpret ing it
that' s whe n a sc ie ntist's life becomes
interesting," he shares. Besides being brill iant
in his field, Nair was also a determined boy
and there was nothin g stopping him from
reaching his goaI.
As a research scientist Dr Shan Nair soon
became instrumental in developing a code
whi ch set the U.K. standard for calculating
waste aris ing from spent nuclear fuel. It was a
major accomplishment which fetched him due
recognition in his chosen field.
Today, when he looks back, he
says, " Mathemat ically, the
major achievement was the
discovery ofa new approach to
solving a set 0 f coupled
d i f fe re n t i a l equation s ,
invol ving rate constants that
vari ed from fractions of a
second to thousand s to years. ,.
"The conventio nal numerical
analysis techniques," expl ains
Nair. "didn't work anymore
because you have to integrate
these equations numerically on
a computer over mi llions of
years but you are going
forward a million years at a
few seconds, at a time . It uses
up a lot of computational
time, " he says. According to
Dr Na ir, the key here was to a
find a different mathematical
approach that translated into a
set of numerical ana lysis
techniques that were codified
through a computer program
and the probl em got sorted just
like that. It cut the computing
lime down by many orders of
magnitude. "This sounds a bit
exotic, " he suggests, "but it's a parti cular
mathematical probl em that required a solut ion
and that was actuall y the best as pect of doing
that code. That's where I got excited," remarks
an elated Nair.
111e less exciting parts howe ver, never quit e
elud ed him. Nai r had written the code for a
research proj ect but a lot of people picked up
thi s code and suddenly he found , all these
users interested in this code. "They wanted thi s
change and that change," he narrates, "and J
really did not wan t to carry on working on the
code because 1was not a code developer. Ijust
happened to develop this code for an
applic ation but a s there were many
applications possible of this code, eventually,
a group of people were set up under me to
actually maintain this code," shares Nair. "in
fact," he claims, "the whole code had 10 be
rewritten because ori ginally, it was written in a
tearing hurry for a research project, it was not
written according to structured programming
techniques."
Shedding light on the most defining moment
of his career as a research sci entist, Dr Sha n
Nair says, "The defin ing moment in my career
as a research sci entist was the Chernobyl
acc ident." Nair was at that poi nt heading a
group of sc ientists and eng ineers who had
been modeling nuclear accident s for years and
sudde nly, he had thi s real life acci dent,
Chemo byl. "It was a chance to actuall y set up
and take all the measurement s becau se the
radioacti vity took time to come for Chernobyl
to U.K. ," he informs. further claiming that
they were able to set up the measuring
instruments and validate computer model s for
atmospheric diffusement o f radioac tiv e
pollutants. to test the accuracy of these
model s, Nair confesses. that Chcmobyl thus
became the turni ng poi nt 0 fh is career.
A RARE GENIUS & MYRIAD SKILLS
"To me success means effect iveness in the
world, thai I am able to carry my ideas and
values into the world --that f amable to change
it in positive ways" - MH KINGSTON.
Always dr iven by this spirit of"effectiveness,"
Dr Shan Nair was all con sumed by some
higher goa ls and greater ideas , when post the
pri vat ization of the UK power generalion
indust ry, he undertook some major initiatives
to bring about some signi ficant changes in his
professional career. He recalls, "A fter the
privati zation of the el ectricity supply industry
in the early eighties under Margaret That cher.
employees of the se to-be privatized units
ended up on two sides. They could either
change with the limes or find new roles for
them selves or they basically got laid off
because their jobs were not needed. A
cornrnerc ial Iy dri ven organizat ion," cites Nair,
"does not need to do basic research; it needs to
do a limited amount of applied research. which
it cannot contract out. For me ," he reasons,
"t he good side of this was that I was involved
in a un it th a t was lo okin g at th e
decommissioning liab ilities for the co mpany."
According to Shan Nair. when a nucl ear power
stati on shuts down, there are a lot of backend
cos ts. "These liabi lit ies," he cla ims, " have to
be provisioned in the accounts, so," he says, " I
chaired a learn that included scientist s,
engi neers and accountants." Nai r further
explains that one has to unde rstand accountin g
to be able to commission properl y, one has to
understand the technology involved in
decommissioning, to be able to estimate these
fuel cycle costs, therefore, his. he remembers
was kind of a funny unit that was a
combination of the technical people and
accounting people. "It is here ," says Nair, "that
[ learned about accounting , and
liabilities .. .came to grips with the concept of
protecting an organi zation." " I thought to
myself," he reflects, "why should I be staying
in tbis organization long term. ]f I was not
going to do original research, f thought," states
NRI ACHIEVERS I JANUARY - MARCH 09 I 20
Nair, "I might as we11 work for myself."
The switch was a gutsy move; and Shan Nair
braved all odds to triumph eventually. As
fascinating as one may find it, even as a
research scientist, Nair claims to be in sound
knowledge of tile entrepreneurial spirit in hl"iri.
"Because the organization [ was with," he
explains, "was going through a very rapid and
very extreme change, the only way to survive
was to have your work supported -by other
departments.' "I always made sure," claims
Nair , "that the work of my group had internal
customers." When the head ofthe organization
that Nair was working with; looked to cut
headcounts, he would not touch Nair's group
because they were involved in projects, which
if cutback would create problems with other
departments. In a declining environment then;
Nair claims to be preserving his group by
having internal customers. A choicej -that kept
him and his group members in good stead!
The change for Shan Nair was very gradual.
From being a scientist to an engineer. .. to
getting internal customers, to being in-charge
of the decommissioning liabilities, which
inevitably meant. .. he had to learn a fair
amount of accounting..,It was a fairly gradual
shift," remarks Nair, as he looks back today
with sheer pride. He recalls, "Once the
organization had been sold off, the new
company that was formed, actually looked at
buying U.S. consulting firms that were nuclear
consulting firms. At one point," admits Nair.
"it also looked at buying 3 major U.S. utility
company. A lot of the due diligence and pre­
acquisition appraisal work was done by the
group I was working with, " he conveys. Nair
remembers that when he left the company, he
knew more about what the cli ent should not be
doing. rather than what the client should be
doing. . . and this very ability proved to be
more valuable in the future course. .
Shedding light on the origin ofNair &Co. and
his momentous plunge into a business career;
Nair stales that after he left the company he
was working for; it was a question of work ing
out what he was going to do next. "It so
happened," he recalls, "that there were some
U.K. employees of U.S. tech companies who [
fmew needed support. WIlen [ looked at the
kind of support they were getting, I realized
that it was really very poor, " conveys Nair.
Sharingfurther, Nai r cla ims, "It was set up the
wrong way. U.S. offer letters had gone out
insteadof U.K. offer letters, the employer had
lost the rights they could have had as a U.K.
employer if they had reserved them . The way
theaccounting was done was appropriate to a
U.K. company instead of being done as U.K.
subsidiary of a foreign company, wh.ich is
whatwas needed. The articles were also set up
wrong," concludes Nair. Talking more about
the blunders that were fatal, Nair remarks,
"There were family company articles set up
for what should have been 3 corporate
enterprise:' lt thus became obvious to Nair
that there was a need in the market of a very
fast but comprehensive solution, covering
everything that a company needs when
operating overseas. "From the set up of the
. company, risk protection. year-end
eomp1iance, to ultimately, if there is recession
or a client pulls out, a shutdown of the
company etc." there were various needs that
required a comprehensive solution says Nair.
The first challenge for Nair therefore, was to
put the solution together because there was no
single reference source from where you could
get al I the answers. "There arc three leve Is:' he
explains, "One is the time-consuming process
of finding and using different sources and
using your own experience to collect
information. Secondly:' he says, "your clients
have different types of problems like they
want to ship goods or need to terminate
somebody in a foreign country.. .so you adv ise
the clients through a plethora of issues before
you can develop the kind of
know ledge b3sc needed to put
together the right solution.
This knowledge base needs to
be ba sed on practical
examples of consulting tasks
you have done. and the
solutions that you've worked
on." "Finally," explains Nair,
"once you have the turnkey
for the U.K. the next
challenge is to make it a fully
equipped solution for Europe.
The next challenge is 10
understand the very different
regulatory environment of
Asia and to amend this
turnkey for Asia ." he says.
The last big challenge
according to Nair is to
understand the very different
and very risky environments
in South America, in places
like Brazil and Argentina, and
to turn this solution around;
and work out an appropriate
one offor thos e countries.
Nair had understood the
problems quite perceptively
and he was game to meet all
challenges in order to crack
the solution and make it
succeed. Today, his business
prodigy Nair & Co.
successfully protects
companies overseas with an integrated
solution for your HR, Finance, Tax and Legal
needs. "We are exceptional in our ability to
handle multiple issues across multiple
countries accurately, so that our clients remain
safe when expanding overseas," declares Nair.
TECHNOCRATTURNS ENTREPRENEUR.. .
So, how easy was it for a research scientist to
NRI ACHIEVERS I JANUARY · MARCH09 I 21
"We are exceptional in our
ability to handle multiple
issues across multiple
countries accurately, so that
our clients remain safe when
expanding overseas. "
crack the fo r mula of success in the
entrepreneurial world? Shan Nair, who has
been named among lOp 50 out standing Asi an
Americans in Business. in 2008; says, "There
are the growth pains and challenges of'b
growing company. Our probl em has not been
actually gelling the business. The probl em has
been in coping wi th the amount of business
that' s coming and being able to match.t hat with
increasing the staff recruitment levels, the
training levels and the increasing workload. "
According to the diligent entr epreneur, if one
ofthree goes out ofsync then there is bound to
be trouble. "If more work com es in than you
have the staff for," he says.. . "then the service
levels begin 10 decline and the company can
implode. rhave been very careful to avoid this
and in ensuring; that we keep pace wi th our
growth. " slat es Nair.
For Shan Nair, there are a few key things that
have enabl ed him earn success and recogni tion
in the world ofenterprise. He emph asi zes, that
first, it's about showing integri ty in behavior.
"Client s trust us implicitly," he says, "TIley
trust us with keeping them sa fe abroad, they
trust us with handling their money safe ly, they
trust that we' ll keep them compliant .. . they
trust their bus iness to us. So, integrity is the
most important, it's the key to Nair & Co .'s
success," asserts an emphatic Nair. Second, he
informs is Nair & Co.' s commitment to client
care and responsi veness. Third is being
detai led and accurate in the work they do. The
ment ioned standards being imperative to his
company's function ing, Nair says , "Many
clients have told me that the reason they are
using Nair & Co . is because they know that
when Nair & Co. is looking after their
international operations, they can sleep easy at
night." Undeniably, Nair & Co. has grown
organically, almost exclusively through word­
of-mouth recommendations.
Shan Nair himself has been managing his
company's wide ranging operations quite
fantastically. "The key to this," he admits, " is
not focusing on being only a clever guy
yourse lf but to find c1cver people who can, in
tum, recruit clever peopl e 10 help you nm the
besin ess." To a large exte nt, Nair & Co. has
been successful in this respect and this has
helped them sustain the ir unprecedented
growth. The company significantl y grew its
staff in 2008, but many of its senior executive
tcam members have been with it since the
formati ve years. "Amid the execut ives with us
since prior [0 our latest recruitment , o/. th or
them have over seven years at Nair &Co. , and
sti ll going strong," informs a buoyant Nair.
A good leader always leads from front and
Shan Nair is unequivocally a leader par
excellence. As Theodore M. Hesburgh said,
"The very essence of leadership is that you
have to have vision. You can't blow an
uncertain trumpet ." Sh an Nair' s grea t
leadership emanates from both .. . his vision
and mission in his business career. His vision
is to get Nair & Co. to a point where it rem ains
the recognized market leader in this field. "We
were the first ones in this niche and we were
here long before anybody else," he cl aims.
Having far mor e expe rience in helping cl ient s
operate risk-free over seas, Nair further says,
"We are way ahead of anybody else who is
purporting 10 act in this niche. To continue
being a cl ear cut market leader, known acro ss
the industry for its customer care, it's integrit y
and excellence in work quali ty; as my vision.,.
Nair admits to not having an ambitious growth
target ofso many mill ion dollars turnover or an
IPO or anything in the order. " I just want Nair
& Co." he says , "10 be known for the
excellence of its work and the very high level
of personal integrity 0 f the people who work
herc."Nair & Co. is exceptional in its ability to
handle multiple iss ues across multipl e
countries accu rate ly so that its cl ients rem ain
sa fe. "Our mission stems from this .. . .our
business help yours grow internationally,"
assures Nair.
The forte of Shan Nair's co mpany is to be able
to, via one or maximum two peopl e. take care
of multiple iss ues s pa nni ng HR. ta x,
compliance, accounting, stock options etc.
acros s multiple count ies. The advice they give
is int ernally generat ed. They are neither a
coordinati on point, nor are they middlemen.
They deal directl y with the clients and provide
them an integrated solution. Claims Nair, "We
know nearly 100% of the answers to any ofthe
client questions because we' ve been around so
long, our knowledge base covers almost
everything that our field of business demands.
and if there is something we haven't had dire ct
experience in, we are qui ck to update
ourselves via our trusted sources." "We've
been there , seen it, and done that ," he adds
cat egorically. For Shan Nair's company, the
Nfli ACHIEVERS I JANUARY - MARCH 09 I 22
"Clients trust us implicitly.
They trust us with keeping
them safe abroad, they trust
us with handling their money
safely, they trust that we'1/
keep them compliant.. .they
trust their business to us. So,
integrity is the most
important, it's the key to Nair
& Co.'s success."
primary thing is gaining the respect and trust
of its clients and this also is its biggest
achi evement so far. "To hear from the clients
that Nair & Co.'s work is making a difference
'1\nd though, generating thet :
to their bottom lines, how we are actually
giving them peace of mind about their
initial momentum is not
overseas operations; and they arc able to focus
on their business in the U.S.... it is absolutely
gratifying." confesses Shan Nair.
always easy, you should
never take "no" for"an
The future plans of Nair &Co. revol ve around
answer. Become extremely
its growth targets and budgets for the next
persistent but without
year: for which its management has a set of
projects sales targets ju xtaposed with
offending people."
projected costs for the year. They arc planning
towards
sustaining long­
term growth,
though obviously.
the rece ssionary
environment that
most of the world
is in today, is
likel y to show
some effect for
them too. "But I'm
moderately
confident ,"
claims Nair
sanguinely, "that
the impact's going
to be relatively
minor for Nair &
Co." Hc further
expla ins , "The
pr imary goal IS to
get the maximum
possible growth without compromising in any
"S trive for the highest levels
wayan service quality." To beat the heat of a
recession phase, where everybody becomes
of success, I know the road is
very price sensitive. Nair & Co. has also
looked OIl more efficient ways of doing things
for their clients. And while its management is
difficult, you will need good
luck, need to be at the right
actively working at someway at improving the
company's efficiency, it is also looking at the
place at the right time, and
possibility of opening a second operational
also need to realize it when center in India in a lower-cost location than
Mumbai, where their current operations are
you are actually there and
based. "We are carrying out what we can,
while refusing to reduce the service quality
and accuracy of our work. These two
principles override everything else." suggests
Shan Nair. Some other things that Shan Nair
would like 10 do, for his company. are looking
at potential acquisitions strategy for the group
and looking at different ways of achieving
growth .
use it to your advantage."
FUNDAMENTALS TOSUCCESS
Ask Dr. Shan Nair about the essentials to
business success and he's replies with an air of
certainty. Says he. "That's pretty simple
actually. Be permanently switched 00 and be
aware of business opportunities. Follow the
opportunities, even if some of them turn out to
be dead ends; because there is always going to
be that one opportunity that will work out big
time," he insists. The ambitious president of
NRI ACHIEVERS I JANUARY· MARCH 09 I 2<1
Nair & Co. follows noparticular philosophy at
work, though he admits to essentially keeping
himself aware of business opportunities.
"When there was an opportunity 1realized it,"
he explains. Talking further, Shan Nair says, "I
used the niche market to my advantage, and
worked hard at getting cIients, which was very
difficult in the first few years . A lot of
business es in the U.S. work on
recommendations and you need a critical mass
of clients to have the kind of profile needed to
get new business," he explains. For Nair,
gelling thai critical mass of clients is the
hardest part of a business . but after that things
flow by sheer momentum he says . "And
though, generating that initial momentum rs
not always easy, you should never take "no"
for an answer," insi sts Nair. " Become
extremely persistent," he says, "but without
offending people. " Citing an interesting
example Nair goes on to narrate, "One of our
earliest clients. I got on the 28th telephone call.
First 27 calls went 10voicernail and on the 28th
call, he was a client ." Nair maintains.
"Persistence has rewards but do not be a
nuisauce either."
For the budding entrepreneurs, Nair has a
precious piece of advice . Says he, "Strive for
the highest levels ofsuccess, I know the road is
difficult, you wi II need good luck, need to be at
the right place at the nght time, and also need
to realize it when you arc actually there and usc
it to your advantage. " In order to succeed in the
business world, Nair believes thai it is
important to be business aware, spot the
opportunity and also be hones! and very
positive in outlook. He firmly believes that
thinking positive leads to posrt ivc
developments in any sphere; therefore he
maintains ; it is essential that one remains
positiv e all through.
Dr Nair holds this unique distinction ofhaving
dabbled in multiple profession s with equal
efficiency and allegiance. Such has been the
diversity in the line s he's chosen, that it seldom
ceases to amaze the ordinary mind of his
extraordinary prowess . From a technocrat, to
a business leader Dr Shan Nair, with his rare
ability and genius is way above an ordinary
achiever. The scientist in him he says, has
taken a back seat only in the sense that he
doesn't do research full time; bUI he claims, he
could flip back to being a nuclear scientist in a
vel)' short span of lime at any given juncture.
" 1would need to become updated with some of
the more recent developments," he says. "I
have kept up with many nuclear science
advancements, so it's not going 10 be that
difficult," he admits.
An experience from his past life also gives him
the confidence that he still "can".. .whcn it
comes to nuclear science . He shares it. Says
he. "J used to do a lot of graduate recruitment
for the research division of what was then
known as the central electricity board of the
on contemporary India, Nair says, "Everybody
says India is an emerging power. and it clearly
is. But, J think the political makeup of the
government is still conditioned very much by
the thinking 0[20 years ago.t' ln Nair's views,
perhaps this is a good opportunity for a lot of
the senior politicians in the country to
encourage and groom younger people. Citing
an important point, Nair suggests that since the
country is run on
coalition
gove rnmen t s ...
the latter remains
relatively
ineffective .
However, Nair
conveys that India
still has been good
for business , even
though there is a
kind of hesitation
on the part of India
to pla y its full
pot ential in the
w o r l d sce n e .
"India is a country
w ith ma s siv e
potential and it is
going to realize its
potential , but it
should be actively
realizing it right
now," asserts Nair.
" The ot he r big
issue , h e
compl a in s , "is
I s I a mi c
Fundam enta lism.
This threat needs
to be con ta ined
because if it is not
contained, a lot of
the progress that
India has made could be reversed," believes
Nair.
It comes as a surprise when you hear these
words coming froma man of Nair's statur e and
background. "I was never in favor of this
nuclear deal," he says, while talking further
about India. "It' s just perhaps one example of
where India is not being assertive enough,"
explains Nair. "I think," he says, "India could
have obtained a much better dcal if it would
have taken a tougher line. India is paying the
price by having international safeguards on
most of its nuclear facilities, not all
admittedly." Nair questions, "What has it
gotten in return?" "It has gotten, ' he says, "the
promise of sale of nuclear technology, which
of course, directly helps the compani es selling
it. But does India actually need it? I mean,"
explains Nair, "India's managed without
foreign nuclear technology for 25 years, and
there are nuclear power stations operating in
India. l'm not quite sure," he states, "what
benefits this nuclear deal is giving India." In
Shan Nair's views, membership of the nuclear
NRI ACHIEVERS I JANUARY - MARCH 09 I 25
"Everybody says India is an
emerging power, and it
clearly is. But, I think the
political makeup of the
government is still
conditioned very much by
the thinking of 20 years
ago. "
U.K. A lot of these scientists coming for
interviews were PhOs in a wide range oftopics
from Material Science, Astro Physics, High­
energy Nuclear Physics, Low-energy Nuclear
Physics, to Chemistry and more. So," stales
Nair, "you have 10 have a pretty broad ranged
scientific knowledge to be able (0 ask them
questions to know how their minds work."
Nair conveys that in these interviews, the
interviewer is interested in not jusf wJ13t they
know. but how their minds work, and can they
think out of the box and devise an original
solution to a real-time or a new problem.
"Therefore, when you're doing a lot of these
interviews, ' suggests Nair, "you become very
versatil e in your understanding of science
across a very broad spectrum , So, it's not
difficult in my case," claims the greatly
confident man.
Talking of Shan Nair being an inspiration 10
the youth of today; and he speaks of his own
inspiration with extreme reverence in his
' voice. "On a business level, there are two
people I absolutely admire," he says. One is
the founder of Reliance , Dhirubhai Ambani,
"To have started a business with 200 rupees, a
small room, a table and two chairs and to have
built it up into a Fortune 500 Global company,
it was nothing short of earth-shattering
impressive," claims Nair. He further speaks in
admiration of India's greatest business leader
andsays, "To have managed suchsuccess in an
environment when India was subject to the
license Raj, which stifled all entrepreneurship,
I absolutely admire that." Another powerful
figure for Nair is the steel magnate Lakshrni
Naravan Mittal. Nair believes that it is
the way in which the latter
capitalized on the collapse of the Soviet Union
to build the nucleus of his business which
basically compr ises of the old soviet steel
mills that were being sold at rock bottom costs.
That he managed to spot thc opportunity, buy
those steel mills, and built a business on it,
which he has since taken to very great heights.
is even more incredible to Nair. "These are the
two individuals I absolutely admire," he
declares. On a personal level for Shan Nair, the
greatest person who walked on this earth is
MahatmaGandhi.
(
ON AMORE PERSONAL NOTE
The most gratifying and proud moment of
Shan Nair's life, as he himself recalls, was
when he did his Indian School Certificate
Exams. He says. "1 was 16 years old, and 1
ranked first in India in English literature and
fi rst in Mathematics, Thai was my proudest
moment." Shan Nair's father worked as
Diplomat and his job required the family to
move to different countries. Nair was born in
theMiddle East; the family also lived in South
East Asia, Scandinavia - what was then
communist Europe - North Africa and in
southern Europe. Of all the countries Nair has
lived in; he believes that his motherland India
has got a huge opportunity to excel. Opining
club is a kind of dubious benefit in the sense
that India was anyway a member ofthe nuclear
club, whether the nuclear club liked it or not.
And India also has a nuclear-armed Pakistan
sitting next door with no controls, so, India is
constrained thinks Nair. He reasons, "So, I'm
concerned about this agreement."
Nair speaks so passionately about) ndia and its
future only because the country is closest 10his
heart. He's absolutely interested in the
country's history that is ancient. "For
example," he says, " in parts ofnorthem India,
you ean see even today, some ofthe remains of
ships that were trading between India and
Mesopotamia during the t ime of the
Mohanjodaro civilization. It is certainly
something that fascinates me," .admits Nair.
Among his many travels that Sban Nair has
undertaken, the most beautiful cit ies that he's
visited and found extremely unique, he claims
are Istanbul and San Francisco. Travel deeply
interests Shan Nair and he says it is something,
he can fwd time to indulge in because he can
do it for the company. "I've traveled so much
throughout my life. My dad was a Diplomat,
so we used to move countries every three
years. I've traveled to many countries and
lived in so many ofthem... the experiences arc
invaluable in running this business," informs
Nair. Knowing the different cultures from
Europe to the Far East has helped him resolve
he says, interpersonal challenges that
sometimes arise from misunderstandings of
cultural values and where people are coming
from. Nair puts across, that at this point ; he's
far too busy to spare time to develop any
hobbies. " I just haven't got time to go play
golf," he remarks, "which is a major interest
where I live." But hopefully one day, thinks
Nair, he will have more time to indulge.
Shan Nair's family includes his wife and one
daughter. And what's for a fact is that his wi fe's
technical competence as an accountant was
absolutely crucial in building Nair & Co. "It
needed two people to make it grow," he
suggests, further explaining, "and while ODe
person brought in the business, the other
executed." It is Nair's firm beliefthat ifthere is
one person doing both, you end up in a seesaw
situation where you bring work and you're so
busy executing it that there is no time to bring
in more work. he explains. That his wife bas
been instrumental in shaping the company's
successful track record reflects in the fact that
the husband wife combination formed and
excellent team, It worked because Vyoma Nair
is a typically conservative accountant, who
reigns in ber busband's excessive exuberance.
Finally, talking ofall successful men taking up
their corporate social responsibility very
seriously and Shan Nair is no exception in this
regard . "Yes, I do but it's II personal activity,"
he says, "which I d00'1 really want to talk
about." "I do this as my way ofgiving back to
the community," maintains Nair. Most ofShan
Nair's charities are in India; however, he
prefers to keep his contributions private. His
company is also involved in some charities
and charitable activities in the US and in the
UK... as at Nair & Co.; they encourage staff
participation in non-profit and community
activities. "Very recently," shares Shan Nair,
"a sta fT member in California took a work day
to work for the advancement of a non-profit
that helps Indian women entrepreneurs
succeed. We also have started to support non­
profits like the South Asian Journalists
Association (SAJA), which provide support to
South Asians in U.S. media and TiE which
helps Indus entrepreneurs succeed," he
conveys.
To say that Dr Shan Nair is an achiever, would
be saying the least . He's not just any one of the
Indian achievers sitting pretty across
frontiers ... living a life full of
accomplishments and fame. He's way beyond
the ordinary lags, much higher than the
references of a man
with success. He's a
winner, a victor on
world stage.. .who has
followed his heart and
triumphed in all
directions. Dr Shan Nair
i s an impeccable
example of the
following words by
Larry Bird - "A winner
is someone who
recognizes his God­
given lalents, works his
tail off to develop them
into skills, and uses
these skills to
accomplish his goals."
The milestones that
Shan Nair reached in his
life, compliment the
supreme intelligence
that the man has been so
generously blessed
with. They reflect his
keen enthusiasm in
using this intelligence
to the fullest and in
making it come
useful. .. to the people
around him. The best
part is that Dr Shan Nair
sees himselfa" a winner
and always performs
like one. He is like that experienced mountain
climber, who is not intimidated by a mountain
but is inspired by it. He's like tbat persistent
winner, who is not discouraged by a problem
but is challenged by it. A close look at his life
and you'll believe thai 'mountains are created
to be conquered; adversities are designed to be
defeated and problems are sent to be solved.'
Only a "Shan Nair" can live by this belief and
only he can be that paradigm. .. of a
quintessential new age achiever!!!
NRI ACHIEVERS I JANUARY· MARCH 09 ! 26
"I was never in favor of this
nuclear deal. It's just perhaps
one example of where India
is not being assertive
enough."

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