An Outstanding Citizen of Society: Dr. Varghese Kurian
When doing business, you have to always make certain that you are able to carry it out successfully in an ethical manner. Achieving each and every goals is not the easiest of tasks when it comes to business as it takes much time, and effort. For the gentleman who did his degree in civil engineering from S.N. College in Kottiyam, Quilon, Kerala, Dr. Varghese Kurian seems to have a natural talent for business however it is only after so much of hard work that he was able to build his business empire to the level at which it stands at in the present time.
Dr. Varghese Kurian first arrived in the Kingdom of Bahrain in the year of 1986, and began his career in the construction company Al Shaker where he continued to work until 1992. By that time Kurian figured that for him to obtain success in his career, he had to venture out on his own into the world of business. He took on the decision to take the experience which he had gained from his father’s construction company in Kerala to build a diversified empire in Bahrain. Kurian saw potential in the market in Bahrain though in the early days Bahrain was not a booming developing country as it is today but he believed that “the realization of every vision requires is perseverance, dedication to hard work, and an unwavering commitment to the service of others.” Due to this belief Kurian decided that he wanted set out to nurture this market potential by building The Al Namal Group in the year of 1992 and The VKL Group which is popular for its real estate, property development and management, construction, health and hospitality divisions.
Originally the company started out as just another construction company, which slowly bloomed into becoming one of the biggest construction companies which had in house facilities for electromechanical, HVAC, interiors, aluminum and wrought iron work which helped to carry out some of the major projects which served to be turning points for the company.
The diversification of the business was not planned as the Moon Plaza Hotel which was built in Umm Al Hasam was for a businessman friend in Dubai, who happened to move to Canada later on leaving the property to Kurian to run. Just as so, the Middle East Hospital near Salmaniya had been built for an Indian doctor who took leave of Bahrain, leaving Kurian to be the head of the healthcare business. Following this, other hospitality projects were built including the Al Murooj, Diva, Casanova, Samada and Taj Plaza hotels. Even during the year of 2011 when Bahrain was on a shaky ground, Kurian continued to build his empire. Accordinng to Kurian they “completed Best Western Olive, Al Murooj Hotel, Lulu Hypermarket in Hidd and the Middle East Hospital during the peak of unrest.” They were “able to build at a fraction of the cost, given that the price of raw materials had fallen, the subcontractors were charging less and there were virtually no demand for building materials.” It was because of their faith in Bahrain that they were able to consolidate their holdings.
Even during the times of trouble, Kurian was able to hang in. The VKL Holding Company had been originally started in the year of 1986 as a construction contractor, however because of the Gulf War, business did not go as planned. Today as a result of Kurian’s dedication and hard work, the VKL Group has expanded across the Middle East and India and it has as many as 3,000 employees spread worldwide.
Even after having built a vast empire, Dr. Varghese Kurian is a man of humility who does not solely strive to achieve his business goals, but sees to it that he always maintains his responsibility in working to help the society. He has won many awards such as the Human Rights Award in 2012, the Outstanding Pravasi Entrepreneur Award in 2009, and P.V. Sami Memorial Industrial and Socio Cultural Award in 2013, and was honoured by the World Malayalee Council in recognition for his support of the Altius Project which aims at making Keralan youth to be “globally competent and socially committed,” and was titled as “sarvasree” by the people of his native of Chittar because of his selfless service to the community.
Kurian is a firm believer in maintaining his social responsibility as a citizen of the society by helping those who are in need. It is his belief in social responsibility that has helped Kurian to run his business in an ethical way. He believes that to receive the best from your employees, one has to understand their issues, and has to look after their needs and requirements, and has to help them in their time of need. Kurian’s employees have direct access to him, and though it is difficult, it is the most rewarding style of man management for him. For Kurian it is important that he runs his business “smoothly,” by following business ethics to the core and helping the underprivileged whenever and wherever possible.
He maintains corporate social responsibility as his group is also into charity works. The VKL group believes firmly in charity and Kurian has contributed for 500 homeless people so that they may have their own houses and offered financial support to 500 poor families for the marriage of their daughters in Kerala. It is his commitment to improving the situation of those who are less fortunate that has taken him outside of the real estate industry and into future plans of providing the best available healthcare and education facilities to the communities within the Kingdom of Bahrain. These plans include to establish a University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC) campus, a Mahatma Gandhi University (MGU) campus, and a multi specialty hospital named Middle East Hospital in Bahrain. Kurian believes that “you should always lend a helping hand to the underprivileged and those in distress.”
It makes Kurian to sad to see the sufferings of the underprivileged especially the children who cry for food. What makes him the happiest is being able to “see the smiles on the faces of his staff, friends and the underprivileged children, especially if he has contributed in any way for the same.” Kurian makes certain that social responsibility is applied not only in his corporate life, but his personal life as well as Social responsibility for Kurian is more like a life than a duty or a certain objective. Married to Lizhy Varghese, a versatile homemaker, and the strength of the family, Dr. Varghese Kurian and his wife who have three children, a daughter named Sija and two sons, Jeeban and Vishakh make it so that their children have an understanding of humanity and its realities. For him the legacy for his children is a “commitment to the enhancement of the human condition.”