Published On: Thu, Jul 13th, 2017


 Mr.V.P. Nandakumar is MD & CEO of Manappuram Finance Ltd.

At this moment, I am in Chicago attending the 100th Annual Convention of the Lions Clubs International (LCI). The weather here is warm and mostly sunny, occasionally cloudy, but not hot. We have had temperatures going up to 31 °C but not beyond. In keeping with this setting, I would like to change track and talk about the year that went by, when I held the office of Governor of Lions District 318D (encompassing the revenue districts of Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram).

But first, a little more about what’s been happening here. I reached Chicago on the 30th of June and it’s been a hectic, event-packed convention for me personally. First came the announcement that my District 318D has achieved the 5th highest net growth in membership among all Lions districts in the world. And for this achievement, I soon found myself sharing the stage at the Opening Plenary Session at McCormick Place on 2nd July to be personally honoured by the outgoing International President Chancellor Bob Corlew!

This was followed by the news that I was being nominated to the prestigious position of Board Appointee for the year 2017-18 (to the LCI Board of Directors). It’s truly a great honour for me personally and for all the Lion members of Kerala, especially of District 318D. I believe I will become the very first Lion member from Kerala to be made a Board Appointee. Coming so soon after my election in May this year to the position of Multiple Council Chairman of Multiple District 318 (which brings together all the Lions Clubs in Kerala), this is icing on the cake.

However, even as I look forward to my new roles as a Board Appointee and as Multiple Council Chairman, I must confess I am also a little sad that my eventful tenure as District Governor is coming to a close. The past year has truly been a voyage of discovery for me. I have enjoyed every moment of my stint as District Governor and the opportunity it has given me to meet, know and work with some of the finest, most selfless people I have met in my life.  What’s more, I was made to step out of my comfort zone and interact closely with people from all walks of life.  The experience has widened my horizons to the extent I feel I’ve become a more complete human being, and a better business leader.

After all, as Governor of a Lions District, you are as focussed on delivering measurable outcomes as any business leader is. Indeed, consider some of the achievements we managed in the last one year. When I began my tenure, District 318D had 3,896 members. We ended the year with 5,548 members, a 42 percent growth achieved in just one year. We now know for sure that we were the fifth best performing district in the world! A key part of driving the growth in membership is to encourage the formation of new clubs. I began the year with 121 affiliated clubs in the District and now that my tenure is over, that number has gone up by a fourth to 149 clubs.  Another important concern is to encourage our members to contribute more to the Lions Clubs International Foundation which, after all, funds much of the charity projects of the Club around the world. During the year, lion members of District 318D voluntarily contributed nearly $130,000 to the LCI Foundation, and this was over and above what they pay to the club as membership dues every year.

Looking back, I must say the experience of working with a highly motivated team inspired only by the desire of selfless service to the community and its less fortunate citizens was an eye-opener for me. Coming from a corporate world where people work for salaries, increments and promotions, it was heart warming to see so many of Lion members working tirelessly for no reward but the desire to help others. As Melvin Jones, the founder of Lions Clubs, once said, “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.” Melvin Jones passed away on June 1, 1961 at 82 years of age but these words have become a guiding principle not just for Lions club members but for public-spirited people around the world.

At this point in time, as I am about to step into my new assignment as Board Appointee, I am reminded of another quote of Melvin Jones that is my personal inspiration. This was the question he had asked himself as he went about inviting his fellow businessman from Chicago to join hands. “What if these men,” Melvin Jones asked, “who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?” And so it came about that the delegates from men’s clubs met in Chicago to lay the groundwork for an organization that came into existence on June 7, 1917 as the Lions Clubs International.

Today, as we celebrate a hundred years of the Lions movement — fittingly, in the very city where it all began — I can only hope that many more business leaders and business executives would be inspired to step out of their comfort zones and do something for somebody else.

Meanwhile, here in Chicago, the 100th Annual Convention of Lions Clubs International has come to an end on a very happy note for all us from India. One of India’s greatest Lion leaders ever, and a good friend of mine, Dr. Naresh Aggarwal, has just been elected to serve as the International President for the year 2017-18. It is an incredible moment for the Lion’s community in India as Lion Nareshji becomes only the 3rd Indian to ascend to this topmost position. We have so much to look forward to under his able and energetic leadership. I am confident that the Lions movement will attain unprecedented success with Lion Nareshji at the helm. Indeed, our best days are ahead of us.

Nanda Kumar




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