Today we have with us Mr. T. N. Krishnakumar. He is one of the leading entrepreneurs based in Dubai and India.
He is well known for his humanitarian interventions among the expat community. He is an Electrical Engineering graduate and MBA with more than 34 years of experience in the field of Electrical Power industries, working with major MNCs as Global Leader and Regional Director for the Middle East Region. Krishnakumar was instrumental in repatriating hundreds of expats to India during the COVID pandemic. He leads a team in Dubai for food distribution and medical camps among the migrant workers and labour camps in various parts of the UAE. During Phase 2 of COVID, when India was in shortage of Oxygen supplies, Krishnakumar was instrumental in supplying Oxygen Cylinders, Oxygen Concentrators, and Oxymeters through NORKA to various Government Hospitals in India. Krishnakumar is an active member selected by the Government of Kerala for Loka Kerala Sabha (2022-2024). He is in receipt of many awards and recognitions, such as the Indywood Billionaires Club Award, the Icons of Arabia Leadership Award, and the Master Vision International Excellence Awards (2019 and 2021). Best Engineer in the Middle East Award by Schneider Electric, GE Best Growth Regional Award, Indo Arab Night Award, and COVID Hero Awards from Dubai Police (in 2020 and 2021). The Indian consulate general in Dubai, the Dubai Community Development Authority, the Dubai Health Authority, the COVID Samurai Award by Toshiba International, and the Media 7 Award are a few among many other recognitions.
Question: Good day, Krishnakumar. Thank you for joining us for this interview. Let’s begin by discussing the incident in your life that shaped your path. Can you share more about how it impacted your journey?
Krishnakumar: Hello, and thank you for having me. Yes, there was a significant incident in my life that had a profound impact on my future. Growing up in Thodupuza, a small town in Idukki, Kerala, I attended a local school where I excelled in academics, particularly in mathematics. It was my mathematics teacher, Mr. Mathew, who ignited my passion for the subject with his simple yet effective teaching methods. This passion for mathematics led me to pursue further studies in the field.
Question: That’s fascinating. So, what happened after your school years? How did you decide on your career path?
Krishnakumar: After completing my 10th grade, I enrolled in Newman College in Thodupuza, where I chose mathematics as my major subject. However, I was unsure about what to do after completing my first and second years of Pre-Degree College (PDC). It was during the second half of my second year that my friend, Chandrathil Suresh, introduced me to Engineering Entrance Examinations and encouraged me to apply for the Kerala Engineering Entrance Test. My cousin, Krishna Anand, who was studying at the College of Engineering Trivandrum, provided me with entrance coaching papers. Thanks to their support, I decided to pursue engineering instead of a career in mathematics.
Question: That was a significant turning point in your life. Could you tell us more about your journey in the field of engineering?Krishnakumar: Absolutely. I achieved a state rank within the top 500 in the Kerala Engineering Entrance Examination, which granted me admission to the prestigious Government College of Engineering in Trivandrum. I chose Electrical Engineering as my main subject of study. Over the four years of my engineering programme, I worked hard to improve my academic performance, gradually excelling in my exams. Fortunately, I received a scholarship that relieved the financial burden of tuition fees.
Question: After completing your engineering degree, what were your next steps in shaping your career?
Krishnakumar: Following my graduation in 1988, I faced the dilemma of deciding where to start my career. I had a strong desire to work and become independent without burdening my parents. Along with my engineering college peers, I travelled to Chennai to write various admission tests for government and private organisations. Unfortunately, those attempts were met with limited success. It was during this time that my cousin, Shri Krishnamurthy, and his wife, Smt. Radha Krishnamurthy, invited me to stay with them in Pune and seek employment opportunities. With their support, I began working for a Pune-based company and eventually transitioned to a USA-based company with operations in Pune.
Question: That’s quite a journey. What prompted you to pursue an MBA?
Krishnakumar: Pune is renowned for its universities and colleges, and I saw an opportunity to further enhance my qualifications. After working for a while, I made the decision to pursue an MBA. I completed my MBA programme with distinction, ranking second in my class. This achievement opened doors for me, and I was fortunate to secure a position at Larsen & Toubro (L&T) in Mumbai.
Question: L&T is a prominent organisation. Could you elaborate on your experiences there and the subsequent job offer you received?
Krishnakumar: Certainly. At L&T, I worked as a Branch Engineer in the Mumbai Central Region, and after a few years, I was promoted to the position of Branch Engineer for Kerala.
Krishnakumar: The promotion to Branch Engineer for Kerala was a significant milestone for me. It allowed me to work in my home state and be closer to my family, which was important to me and my parents. However, during this time, I received a job offer from a prominent business group in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. This presented a challenging decision for me—whether to continue with the job at L&T in Kerala or venture abroad and explore the world.
Question: How did you make that crucial decision?
Krishnakumar: It was a challenging decision indeed. After careful consideration, my wife and I decided that it was an opportunity worth taking. We were young and eager to explore new horizons, and we believed that accepting the job abroad would provide us with valuable experiences and exposure to diverse cultures. With that, I made the difficult choice to resign from L&T and join Bahwan Engineering Company, one of the leading engineering firms in the Middle East.
Question: That’s a bold move. Can you share some highlights of your career in the international arena?
Krishnakumar: Certainly. Over the past 28 years, I have had the privilege of working with several multinational companies based in the GCC region, the UAE, and Dubai. I held positions such as Global Leader and Middle East Regional Director. These roles allowed me to travel extensively and immerse myself in different cultures and nationalities. It has been a remarkable journey, and I am grateful for the opportunities that came my way.
Question: Looking back on your 35-year career, what are your reflections?
Krishnakumar: When I reflect on my career, I am deeply grateful for the support and encouragement I received from my friends. They played a significant role in my success, offering continuous support at various stages of my professional journey. Their unwavering belief in me helped me progress from one position to another and provided the opportunity to travel the world both personally and professionally. These experiences have instilled in me a deep appreciation for our Indian culture while also fostering an admiration for other cultures and their positive aspects.
Question: Thank you, Krishnakumar, for sharing your incredible journey with us. Your story is truly inspiring, and we wish you continued success in all your future endeavours.
Krishnakumar: Thank you for having me. It has been a pleasure to share my experiences, and I hope they serve as motivation for others to pursue their dreams.