“Education is my passion and learning is what fulfils my passion and helps keep me growing.”
A man without pretensions and a lawyer constantly learning, Akhil Prasad holds his designation of Country Counsel India and Company Secretary, Boeing International Corporation India Private Limited, with dignity. In his 20-year long career, his motto has been to never stop educating himself because knowledge is revolution. And this knowledge quest has helped him gain expertise in many areas of law – contracts and litigation, corporate laws, industrial and employment laws, informed technology and information technology enabled services, legal, risk management, oversight and regulatory compliance, media laws, mergers amalgamations and restructuring, real estate/property laws, tax laws.
Coming from a family of philanthropists in Meerut, Prasad firmly believes that good begets good. His great grandfather Ramanuja Dayal donated a 15,000 sq yard property in the heart of Meerut to an orphanage. Prasad’s father Dr. Hari Ram Prasad was a doctor and did not charge his patients any fee. His mother, Rashmi was a professor of zoology in Meerut and gave away her salary to the needy for the first five years of her teaching career.
“We also have agricultural land near Meerut, so I even used to drive the tractor in the fields on weekends. I was actively into farming for about 13 years,” he smiles. Retaining the simplicity and down-to-earth attitude, he continues to use public transport, just like his younger days, even though he has cars and has recently bought a Harley Davidson. “I take the metro to work from Gurgaon to Connaught Place, Delhi. I catch up on my reading and writing in this journey, reading business papers and magazines, and technical journals,” he says.
Talking more about his family and career, Prasad says that he has learned from all his failures. “Every thing that didn’t go right has been a stepping stone to learning. After my B.com, I appeared for pre-medical exams and the MBA entrance exam and did not get through. I gave 25 interviews before I was hired as a trainee in Essar Gujarat, based in Mumbai. There, when I reached the place, I had to physically lift boxes from trucks and was given only two helpers. It was the turning point of my life. I picked up my studies in Company Secretary and attended my MBA in Finance classes in the evening. Since then education has become a passion for moving ahead.”
His office space is lined with certificates and awards. He has accumulated many degrees and worked in many prestigious organizations.
He holds a Doctorate in Law, a Doctorate in Commerce, is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, UK. He is also a non-practising solicitor of England & Wales and is a member of the Laws programme in US laws with the Northwestern University, Chicago, and the Certificate in Business Administrative programme from Instituto de Empressa, Madrid.
“Studies in Chicago and Madrid came from another push. I had done my LL.M. from Meerut, so when I went for an interview to a well-known organization, the HR official pointed out that anyone could get a degree from Meerut. I decided then that I needed one from a credible university. Hence for years I nurtured the dream and finally I got from Northwestern University, Chicago,” he talks about his passion.
His greatest inspirations have been his family values. “Just a few days after my father passed away, I had exams and my mother told me to put my mind to my studies. She is positive and calm person and works on how to move on. While I was working in Delhi, I would be doing law classes in the evening in Meerut, so I used to study in the bus as I spent hours everyday travelling back and forth. I still do the same,” he smiles.
His wife is a creative person who likes fine art and paintings of all kinds. As the family continues the tradition of philanthropy since 1890, he is now training his sons, Ami and Avi, to keep it flowing. “I visit the orphanage often. There are about 100-125 children there. They are treated well, sent to school and given proper education. We also arrange their marriages; there are common weddings. I have designated an award for the best student, cash prize, so that it can be used for higher studies. Some children get sponsored by patrons. And as a patron of the orphanage, I have to be aware of all the activities; I also take my children there,” he says.
For a man who has worked for some of the biggest organizations, Akhil is modest to the core. He has held offices such as Head of Legal and Company Secretary at Fidelity Worldwide Investment India (FIL India) Company Secretary of The Walt Disney Company India (2005 to 2007), Senior Attorney & Company Secretary of General Motors India (2003 to 2005), and Assistant General Manager Legal with Electrolux Kelvinator (2000 to 2002). Prior to these assignments, he has also worked with the legal teams in Modicorp Group (including Modi Xerox and Graphtech India from 1995 to 2000).
Prasad’s quest for growth is constant. Not the one to sit on his laurels, he has been working towards learning about and getting accustomed to the international law environment. And he likes to share his knowledge and experience with others. Prasad is also a visiting faculty at Delhi School of Economics and Indian School of Business.
“Working in a global environment, you can’t be left behind. You need to sharpen your skills and know what’s happening outside as well.” As the Vice Chairman of the Corporate Counsel Forum of the International Bar Association, he has travelled to many cities such as Dubai, Vancouver and Boston for conferences and seminars. He is also an India representative to IBA’s global committee on corporate social responsibility (CSR).
“I have plans to study in China and have even been in touch with the dean at Shanghai University. They do teach in English and the only condition is that I have to stay there for six months. I had even started learning Mandarin but had to leave after three months as I joined Disney. ” says Prasad.
At the moment he is busy creating an ancestral family tree on Facebook and plans to launch it at a function. “Our extended family would have around 300 members. We try to celebrate Holi and Diwali at our ancestral home in Meerut.” And annual holidays in the summer are spent with the immediate family. Work-life balance is an integral part of his life, as he continues on the knowledge quest.
His favourite gadgets are Apple products and his dream to write a handbook on how to be a good professional.
We acknowledge “100 Legal Luminaries of India” by Lalit Bhasin (Lexis). The multicolour coffee table book printed on art paper in Hardbound is priced at ` 5995/- and is available at Universal Book Traders, C-27, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001. firstname.lastname@example.org