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EXPATRIATES IN MAURITIUS
» 30 Oct 2012
A.J SMILES

DEAR MR. SMILES, WHERE DO YOU HAIL FROM?

I am Indian, born, brought up in Andhra Pradesh , with Telugu as my mother tongue. I did my Master’s De-gree in Marine Biology. I was a topper at all levels I studied, i.e. School, Col-lege and University. I had an option to become a Marine Biologist or a Bank Officer at the same time, as I had both the appointment orders in my hand at a young age of 22 yrs. As des-tiny would have it, I became a Banker.

No regrets, as I have been very successful as a Banker and I am
proud of being a Banker. I had the op-portunity to work in 5 countries i.e. India, Japan, Kenya, Tanzania and Mauritius. Apart from English, Hindi and Telugu, I had the opportunity to
learn other languages such as Japan-ese, Swahili, little bit of French and Creole.

Me and My wife Beulah have been living in Mauritius since April
2008, while my son and daughter are Computer Engineers and working in India.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE SOME EARLY MEMORIES OR ANECDOTES WITH US?

I never planned / imagined myself to be a Banker. I wanted to get into one of the top Government of India Serv-ices (I.A.S). However I ended up be-coming a Banker by accident.

While I was doing my Master’s Degree, one of my roommates in the hostel, was keen on becoming a Banker. Those days ( in 1980 ) Proba-tionary Officer Job in State Bank of India was the most sought after job for the crème of the students in India.

He applied for this national talent search exam for this job and also did a favour to fill up an application for me, though I was not keen. On the eventually fateful day, when I was supposed to write this competitive exam, as usual I went to play cricket. My friend found me in the last minute before the exam and pulled me to the exam center. I was profusely sweat-ing, when I entered the exam hall. The invigilator looked up and down at me and insisted, do you mean to take the exam seriously. I simply nodded and took the exam. Most unexpect-edly, I was the only student to have been selected to this prestigious job while still studying in this University Campus which has 5000 students.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY HAS IMPACTED THE MOST ON YOUR LIFE OR CAREER?

I must say, among many others, one major milestone / turning point in my life has been the opportunity to work with a legendary Banker by name Mr. Vepa Kamesham. He was the for-mer Managing Director of State Bank of India, in India and Former Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India.

He was one of the best known Forex Dealers’ of his time. He was the one person, who realized that I was very efficient in Mathematics, and encouraged me to become a Forex Dealer. That turned my career. I be-came a very successful Dealer, trading foreign currencies and had the opportunity to Trade Forex in the World’s 3 largest forex markets, i.e. Tokyo

THE GOLDEN QUESTION!
HOW DID YOU MAKE MAURITIUS YOUR HOME?

Having worked for 5 years in Tokyo, I moved back to India. It was in the year 2004, that I first got an oppor-tunity to work in Africa. I had the opportunity to work at Top Management level for a Bank in Kenya and then moved to Tanzania as
CEO of another Bank. It was then that I & M Bank of Kenya, which is one among the top Banks in Kenya, while they acquired a 50% shareholding in Bank One in Mauritius in the year 2008, gave me an opportunity to move over to Mauritius along with them.

ANY PASSIONS YOU ADHERE TO ON PARADISE ISLAND?

Golf is something I really enjoy. Mau-ritius has some fantastic and wide variety of Golf courses. Being a “Marine Biologist” by qualification, spending time on the sea, such as snorkeling, under sea walk, dolphin watching, sit-ting in a speed board jetting through the beautiful blue waters around Mauritius gives me great joy.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT LIVING HERE?

I have lived /worked in 5 different countries. I must say, I enjoy living in
Mauritius the most, compared to other countries where I have worked so far. Moderate weather throughout the year, friendly people, hospitality, nice greenery all around, beautiful clean beaches, excellent infrastruc-ture, makes it truly the “Paradise on Earth” !

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