The Emperor of Hearts – Padma Shri C.K. Menon
Cheril Krishna Menon, affectionately called C K Menon is a living legend. This extra ordinary businessman has overcome all odds in life to emerge as one of the leading business tycoons in the Middle-East. Hailing from Thrissur, a leading town of the state of Kerala in India, Menon chose to traverse a tough path which no ordinary person would have chosen. A deeply spiritual man, he humbly dedicates all his achievements to God Almighty. He firmly attributes his success to untiring hard work, high degree of honest y and deep dedication.
His company Behzad Corporation is a transnational conglomerate based in Qatar with operations in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, UK, UAE, Kuwait and India. The corporation has a wide presence in an assortment of industries like commerce, logistics, oil, manufacturing, education and food.
CK Menon is a dedicated philanthropist too. The scale of his efforts in philanthropy is unmatchable, cutting across all communal and religious barriers. It is no wonder that he is being loved and respected by all. The Qatar Government bestowed upon him the coveted DICD Award in 2012 for his sincere efforts to support the Muslim community in Kerala. It is worthy of mention that C K Menon, a non-Muslim, funded the building of a Mosque, second only to Cheraman Perumal, the erstwhile ruler of Kodungallur. For his efforts towards the welfare of humanity, the Government of India has honoured him with the Pravasi Bharathiya Samman Award followed by Padma Shri Award.
In a brief interview with Bejoy George, UT Associate Editor, when asked about his business and personal life, C.K.Menon replied “My father late Shri Narayanan Nair was a business man. We had a fleet of buses operating in and out of Thrissur. I had to take charge of the business at the young age of sixteen when my father passed away. While handling business I had to take care of my education too. After finishing my Pre-University Course, I went on to complete my B.A. In the meantime, the business was doing well until different labour unions began to stage various problems. After taking my LLB degree, I handed over the ownership of the fleet to the employees themselves and thought of pursuing a legal career. In those days, as a beginner in law, I did not earn much. As soon as I got an opportunity to go to Qatar, I moved out of India. Initially I worked as supervisor in Pakistani Company where I got promoted as Accounts Manager. A law degree from India was of no use in Qatar. One needed an Arabic Law degree from Egypt to practice law in Qatar. Later I got Job in an ailing transport company which had a fleet of many buses and trucks. Almost half of the vehicles were lying idle due to minor problems. I realized that all men were engaged to operate all the vehicles. So I came up with an idea which suddenly occurred to me, a rather out the box idea. It was to take out the working parts of 50 odd vehicles to use in the other vehicles so that the rest 200 odd vehicles would ply without any hassles. Once the vehicles were made fit for the road, my next job was to explore new business prospects. Unfortunately due to certain internal problems, I lost the job despite doing well. At that critical moment God favoured me with another opportunity. The owner of another ailing company had put up the company for sale. Though I was short of money to buy the business, the owner was good enough to offer me to pay in instalments. It took me 10 months to settle the entire payment and that was the beginning of Behzad Corporation.
You are the Chairman and Managing Director, Behzad Group of Companies. Tell us more about the main and subsidiary companies? Which all countries do you operate in?
Yes, First of all I would like to say that Behzad Corporation is a zero-debt company. We are present in different verticals including Transportation that includes bunkering and logistics.
We are also present in trading. The group’s flagship company, ALI BIN NASER AL MISNAD TRANSPORT & TRADING, is one of the leading transporting solutions providers in the State of Qatar. We have a School, The Bhavans School present in two locations in Qatar. We have one of the biggest bakery manufacturing unit in Qatar. We have a massive steel manufacturing plant in Sudan and hot dip galvanizing plant in India. It is one of the largest factories in South India
Among your different ventures, there is a public school. What was the motivation behind starting a school in Qatar?
Education is a basic need, no matter how many schools and colleges we have, it is not enough. Also at the same time the quality of education is also important. Bhavan’s Public School imparts quality education to the children of the Indian expatriate community in Qatar.
What was the turning point in your life?
Probably the one major turning point was my experience with the transportation company I joined just after the Pakistani Company. I got to turn around the company, even though I lost my job, it paved the path to my future success.
What is your vision for your company?
My vision is to give maximum employment to people. Currently I employ more than 4000 people, and many of them are from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The vision of our group is to be always recognized as an innovative and creative venture taking part and contributing its expertise and knowledge to the major projects leading to the country’s overall infrastructural development.
What is your leadership style?
I am a democratic leader; I get to know my people. There are people who are working with me for the last 35 years. I give them every opportunity to grow and succeed.
You have built a mosque in Kannur? What was the motivation behind that?
It’s in a place called Mokeri in Kannur District. I heard that people in that place didn’t have a place in mosque to do their prayers. So when they approached me, I didn’t think much. But God was so kind that I got a lot of appreciation for that. In fact the Government of Qatar honoured with widely acclaimed Doha International Centre for Inter-faith Dialogue (DICID) with a special award, plaque and citation. I was the first Asian resident in Qatar to be honoured with the recognition. The mosque was dedicated to the faithful by Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader Panakad Syed Hyder Ali Shihab Thangal at a function chaired by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
Is Kerala not conducive for business?
Kerala has emerged but not quite, still we have teething problems related to infrastructure, labour issues and delays. But if there is a challenge, there is an opportunity, and so many people have overcome these challenges. We have example of that right in front of us.
What is your advice for entrepreneurs?
Four key factors; Honesty, dedication, sincerity and hard work, if you can channel it to one direction you can be successful.
About your family?
My wife is Jayasree Krishna Menon. She has supported me all the way along. I am blessed with two daughters and a son. The eldest is Anjana Anand, she is married to Dr. Anand and they are settled in Doha. My second daughter is Sreeranjini Ritesh, married to Dr. Ritesh and they are settled in UK. J K Menon is my son and he has completed his BE, he is the Vice-Chairman of the group.