“There are no special people in this world, the moment you get clarity and know how to judiciously use the three greatest resources – time, energy and space; one can achieve anything in this world”. ~ Dr S Vijay Kumar
In his first two years of engineering at Andhra University, he slid way down the merit list and featured amongst the last few. But when he realised how hurt his sister felt by his grades, he made a strong resolution. He returned and declared to his classmates that in the forthcoming exams, he would be the university topper – though it did sound highly ambitious, he did top the merit list. Since then, he continued to top the merit list as a student, and continues to strive and achieve excellence even today as an industrialist. A man known for his disarming simplicity and charming affability, yet acclaimed as a perceptive businessman with list of impressive successes, the Yo Vizag team was happy to interact with and feature Dr S Vijay Kumar, CMD and founder of the Vijay Nirman group.
Even as a child, Dr Kumar was focussed on his goals and slated to achieve prominence. Inspired by his teacher’s call and the many movies based on war, the young lad donated his gold-watch towards a collection being made to assist the soldiers fighting in the Indo-China war of 1962 – he was honoured for his generosity back then. At that point of his childhood, he decided to join the armed services and serve the nation. Though he did not join the services, benefit the nation he did – through various infrastructural projects towards the nation’s growth and development. He decided to foray into the field of civil engineering after a school trip to the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam. So impressed was the school boy by the sheer magnitude of the dam and the civil-engineering feat it epitomised, that from that day on, he began signing his name as: Vijay Kumar BE (Civil).
Born in Krishna District, the eldest son of Sri Surapaneni Venkateswara Rao, retired Panchayat Raj Executive Engineer and Smt. Vimla Devi; Sri Vijay Kumar completed his basic studies in various towns like Bhimavaram, Gudiwada and Pamarru. Though he did secure a seat in AU for Civil Engineering, on his father’s insistence, he joined BSc in Loyola College, suggesting that being a scientist was better than being an engineer. The disheartened boy revolted by letting his grades slide – to the extent that except in maths, in all other subjects he did very poorly. Rather than let the boy destroy his future, his father finally agreed and allowed him to join Andhra University, Civil Engineering. But there too, caught up in a whirlwind of student politics and friend circles, in the first two years of his engineering his grades were bad. But then, his sister’s words propelled him to not only top the university, but also continue on and achieve university first in ME (Structure) from AU, and a PhD in 2001.
After his ME, he worked as Designer Engineer in Andhra University. It was during this stint that he realised that there was a vast gap between the contractors and professionals; a gap which inspired him to consider becoming a contractor himself. Secondly, he also realised that he was a ‘better leader than a follower’. But before embarking as an entrepreneur, he taught as a lecturer in the Siddhartha Engineering College, Vijayawada and also joined as a Research Scholar at IIT Madras. In 1982, with an investment of just Rs 20,000/- and armed with “all the necessary homework to start a firm”, he started Vijay Nirman Company. The firm today carries out mega projects and is well acknowledged for its civil engineering expertise in the fields of marine sector, power sector, residential and commercial complexes. It has executed complex steel structures and integration of electrical systems. In addition, the company has obtained ISO-9001 (2008), ISO-14001 (2004) and OHSAS 18001 (2007) certificates for compliance of quality management system, environmental management system and occupational health and safety management. The company has executed and is involved as sub-contractor in many prestigious infrastructure projects in various states, including the GMR outer ring road project in Chennai. The firm also runs a training school in Sagar Nagar to train young men in various levels of civil engineering related jobs, according to their basic qualification (including tenth and plus 2 – passed or even failed candidates); these boys are absorbed into the company itself.
On a personal level, Mr Vijay Kumar is involved in the cultural scene of Vizag like the Kuchipudi Kalakshetra and Visakha Music and Dance Academy; he is the convener of the Visakha Samskrutika Sabhaa Samakya; is a member and trustee in many intuitions and has received a quite a few honours and awards like from the Samman Patra from the Govt of India – IT Dept; Vishwakarma Award 2010 for the category Industry Doyen from the Construction Industry Development Council, Delhi; and the International Achiever’s Award for Corporate Leadership at Singapore from the Indian Achievers Forum, Delhi.
Having worked hard himself and realised how significant time management is, Mr. Kumar is keen to share his knowledge based on his own personal experience with students, upcoming entrepreneurs and the younger generations. Without being aware, he had applied similar principles on time management as suggested by management gurus like Stephen Covey throughout his life. Today, he suggests that same principles if applied by students and youngsters in their daily schedules would help them achieve greatness and success. According to him, to sustain success, gratitude and self-discipline are very important virtues to nourish. “Gratitude comes only if you remember what you have received and forget what you have given. Gratitude cultivates patience which gives you time to understand the other person’s perspective; thus one can truly enjoy the best gifts of life like friendship. Friendships, relationships and your attitude are your true wealth”. Skill in the concerned field, knowledge and clarity of your own goal – these are the crucial requirements to be a successful entrepreneur. Finances can be arranged, but the rest have to come from within.”