As founder and leader of multinational conglomerate QI Group for 25 years, Vijay Eswaran has experienced the ups and downs of establishing and growing an international business. Yet, he did not initially set out to create a corporate domain of his own. Instead, he came from more humble beginnings, learning on the fly what it meant to connect with other people and become adaptable as the family moved often due to his father’s job.
With education as a core theme and priority in Eswaran’s life, he left Malaysia to pursue higher education, first in the United Kingdom and later in the United States, where he began his experience in corporate life.
Eswaran quickly made an impression, making his way up the corporate ladder in a variety of international companies throughout North America. He took this experience back home with him after 13 years abroad to take on a transformational role with a Malaysian publisher. Proud of the work he did to turn the company around, Vijay Eswaran was discouraged when new management came in and replaced him, despite his best efforts.
It was then that he realized he no longer wanted to answer to others and felt the call of entrepreneurship. “This was the catalyst that set me on a path to take charge of my life. I never again wanted to be in a position where someone else could dictate my life,” said Eswaran.
Vijay Eswaran Intertwines Business With Philanthropy
The result of Vijay Eswaran’s ambition and skill was the founding of the QI Group, an organization that now employs over 2,000 people in 30 different countries. With offerings spanning everything from education to real estate and financial services, QI Group has become known for its variety of services and products, as well as its commitment to combating climate change and improving the communities it operates within.
Each step of the growth journey has been one of learning for Eswaran, with a few challenges along the way. But he has always remained true to his mission to balance traditional corporate mentalities with philanthropic efforts. “To me, success is as much interwoven with challenges, just as light is to shadow ... success and failure are both elements of the same path for growth,” explained Eswaran.
Notably, his philanthropic efforts have captured attention on the world stage. The QI Group’s charitable arm, RYTHM Foundation, has helped provide educational, economic, and environmental opportunities for youth, women, and other disenfranchised groups in more than 20 countries. Having implemented over 75 projects and helping over 155,000 individuals since its inception through RYTHM Foundation, Eswaran, has been recognized by Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy list. Despite the accolades, Vijay Eswaran remains humble and focused on his mission, the motto for which, “Raise Yourself To Help Mankind,” supplies the words in the RYTHM acronym. It also represents the belief system embedded in the cause.
A Focus on Education
The importance of education to Eswaran cannot be understated. In addition to RYTHM's own educational initiatives, which include an education center dedicated to children with special needs in Malaysia, Eswaran has also founded an institution of higher education. Quest International University started in 2011 with a focus on providing immersive, experiential learning opportunities for students to help produce problem-solving, hands-on citizens who are ready to make an impact on the job market after graduation. Eswaran envisions QIU becoming the Harvard of the East, with the goal of countering the degree mill mentality he has encountered in the region.
Eswaran also seeks to educate audiences outside of the QI Group’s network of companies and resources as a published author. Two of his books, In the Sphere of Silence and Two Minutes from the Abyss, provide practical life advice for readers. They include tips for how to establish purpose in life, gain control, and establish healthy habits that can make you a better leader as well as a stronger contributor to family and community. He remains an inspirational figure when it comes to gaining a firm understanding of how to balance financial and business success with caring and providing for others, a philosophy that has underscored his own achievements, both in and out of the office, for decades.