Dushyant Savadia: Fascinated by trains, planes as a youngster, loves reggae and has produced an album
Q10Sunday, November 15, 2020
By Kevin Jackson
For the past five years, Amber Group founder and CEO Dushyant Savadia has steered his company to profitability. The companies which operate within the group are Amber Connect, Amber Pay, Amber Rewards, Amber Aviation, Amber Aura, Amber Fuels, and Amber Innovations.
Amber Group (AGL) is a global technology company founded in 2015 on core humanitarian values. It is based in Jamaica with operations in the Caribbean and 23 countries including India, Africa, the US, and Canada.
Savadia is an internationally acclaimed global entrepreneur, humanitarian, public speaker and a technology disruptor, driven by a vision to give back. He quickly transforms ideas into successful global ventures. His passion for constant innovation has ensured that his various enterprises are always placed on the forefront of cutting-edge technologies.
He was born in India, and for the past eight years has very proudly made Jamaica his home. Savadia's insatiable passion for Jamaica and technology has made him vow to make Jamaica the proud hub of the Amber Group.
Dushyant Savadia is this week's Q10 guest.
Q10: Since moving to Jamaica eight years ago, how have you adjusted to the culture?
Savadia: I came to Jamaica from the UK as part of my work with the Art of Living Foundation. I was engaged with several inner-city communities and worked directly with inmates in the prisons on stress management and violence reduction workshops. This early work gave me a lot of exposure, insights and understanding of the Jamaican culture, which resonated with my own values and principles. I don't see much difference when it comes to the warmth, hospitable nature of Jamaicans when compared to India. Both countries have a lot in common, with deep historical connections and similar struggles and resiliency. So, it did not take me long to adapt to the Jamaican culture. Right from the very beginning I felt an affinity to this island and I am at home here.
Q10: How challenging is it to manage several companies?
Savadia: Whether you lead one business or several companies, the challenges remain the same. I think the differentiator is the energy that you bring into the business. I often refer to myself as chief enthusiasm officer and that's because we manage a purpose-driven business. It's that energy and purpose that get us through the tough days. We also have to remember that companies are not managed by a person but they are managed by people. Because I firmly believe in this, I have invested in my team, giving them a solid platform and an opportunity to develop personally, professionally and financially. Providing a work environment full of enthusiasm, purpose and transparency has created and attracted many leaders across all of our companies. My role as founder and CEO is simply to guide our team. Having said that, I will admit that in my early days as a start-up, building a strong team was challenging. This took a lot of effort and I did make mistakes along the way. However, as we grew and the business matured, I have learned to give the leaders of each business line the freedom to run the business as their own. This has been the secret of our success.
Q10: You battled alcoholism when you were younger, what would be your advice to young adults who are going through a similar experience?
Savadia: When someone turns to alcohol or drugs, it is usually in search for comfort or an escape. What I have learned about alcohol is that it provides empty promises of joy and never delivers. My own experience with alcohol turned me into an angry and impatient person and led to poor decisions, many of which I am not proud of. To anyone searching for purpose and joy, my advice is to find ways to re-channel your energy and associate yourself with a higher purpose. When we focus too much on ourselves — “what about me”/ “poor me” — we approach life from a place of 'lack' and this often manifests in destructive behaviour such as alcoholism or other substance abuse. I think that as adults we have to guide young people to help them deepen their roots and broaden their vision to what brings them joy. We should also encourage them to engage in activities such as meditation and breathing exercises that help to manage negative emotions and tendencies.
Q10: As an entrepreneur, wh at is your overall objective?
Savadia: Successful entrepreneurs and businesses are usually those who are ambitious to make a positive contribution to the society. Personally, I have several objectives: First, I want Amber to be a platform for individuals who are committed to nation building. Second, I would like to reverse the trend of Jamaica being a consumer of technology into being a producer of technology. Third, I want to impact consumer lives by providing affordable technologies that will enhance the quality of living for people and finally, I want to enable businesses to optimise performance and become customer-centric through effective use of technology.
Q10: What would you say has been your most rewarding moment doing business in Jamaica?
Savadia: The most rewarding experience so far would have to be the development of the JamCovid19 technology solution for Jamaica. We knew that technology was going to be one of the biggest defences against the spread of COVID-19, and technology is what we do best. In a matter of days we developed a solution that was able to fully integrate the immigration system and developed a comprehensive tracking system for people coming into the country. I am proud of my team and the amazing work we were able to accomplish in such a short space of time.
To roll out the solution, I worked with the authorities — Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith, Dr Horace Chang, and Matthew Samuda — very closely to get nearly 25,000 stranded Jamaicans back home when COVID-19 hit. There were cases where people came to the airport not knowing they had to get the application done, without which they could not board the plane. Many were distressed. I would directly receive calls from distressed parents, elderly, students, mothers who needed to get home. I was working with the airlines, Jamaican consulates globally and returning residents directly on a daily basis, with one intent to bring our citizens home safely and quickly.
In the early days I also went to the airport on several occasions to review and access technological implementations and processes to ensure everything went smoothly. The JDF, JCF, Airports Authority, Ministry of Health and so many others worked tirelessly behind the scenes. I'm really proud of the way we came together to make sure we brought home stranded Jamaicans overseas.
As a country, it just wasn't the technology that we built that assisted, but we worked hard, through the night often without sleep to bring our people home in a time of crisis. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be on the front lines with the team. This, perhaps, was something I have done which is most rewarding to me personally.
Q10: What was it like growing up in India? Did you at any time imagine living outside your country of birth for an extended period of time?
Savadia: My childhood memories of India are mixed. I grew up in a very conservative, religious family. While I was a troubled teenager, often rebelling against strict parents, I do have very fond memories of my homeland. As a child I remember being fascinated by trains and planes. I often dreamt about travelling around the world. When my parents could not find me, I was usually up on the roof searching for planes in the sky. To date I have visited over 40 countries, teaching the Art of Living workshops around the world. While I am grateful for the experiences of new countries, I realised that when you are at peace with yourself, wherever you are, becomes home.
Q10: What type of music do you listen to? Who's your favourite Jamaican artiste?
Savadia: I was introduced to reggae music through Bob Marley in my childhood and I have always loved reggae music. Bob Marley is BIG in India and is seen as a great philanthropist. When I was a teenager, Mr Boombastic and It Wasn't Me were two massive hits in India. Little did I know that I would be living in Jamaica, in the land of reggae and I would meet, work and become friends with Orville Richard Burrell (whose stage name is Shaggy), who also does tremendous work to “give back” to Jamaica. Other than that, I have always been interested in ancient chants and instrumental music. In fact, I am also a singer and have produced an album Pure Calling, based on ancient Sanskrit verses.
Q10: Describe a regular day in the life of Dushyant Savadia.
Savadia: I start each day at 4:00 am with breathing and meditation for about one hour, after which I call my parents in India to touch base. Meditation gives me the energy for the day because no two days are alike when you are running a global company with seven business lines, operating on multiple time zones. However, every day I allocate time for critical thinking. This includes potential expansion and value adds for our existing products. I also spend a lot of time in curating technologies for our clients and business partners. There is also time spent on pro-bono advisory to governments in the region and businesses. Most days I also include time for training seminars for our team and often participate in forums as a motivational speaker and technology enthusiast speaking on a variety of subjects.
I also spend some time every day on strategising, developing and actioning sustainable opportunities to giving back and enabling long-term development of communities in the region with a special focus on underprivileged and at-risk group.
Q10: If you should depart this Earth tomorrow, what would you want to be best remembered for?
Savadia: A humanitarian. I want to be remembered for the good I have done, the knowledge I shared, the opportunities I created, the love and happiness that I brought to people. But above all I would like people to recognise Amber and its team, and what we have accomplished to enhance the lives of people.
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