Modest upbringing, working two jobs with full-time MBA studies, an upright dose of self-belief and an immovable focus and discipline has worked for this finance man who started with a bit of borrowed money and a wealth of vision.
Fourteen years ago a sixteen something teenage boy had a bet over a drink in a small suburb of Mumbai, India to become an international investment banker without the knowhow, limited resources, no contacts, no capital, no investors, moderately educated family, no nothing. Today he is a leading corporate advisor in Australia with a client list spread across US, UK, Australia, Singapore, Dubai, China and India.
Meet Poorab Mehta, 30, the face and driving force behind small, mid-sized and high end businesses around the world. There is a story of vision, the single mindedness of youth and simplicity. No formal mentoring for him; if Poorab has an issue that’s bugging him, he consults one of the senior advisor who’s also doing a workout at the gym.
Fancy head office? Oh no, a nondescript, brown-brick building in Sydney CBD is home to the team of three that run this business. To be fair, inside is pretty cool. Modern unit, with exposed lounge, top end computer equipment’s, software’s, database access, mobile phones and super-fast sleek brain on his shoulder.
He started his career in the field of commerce while he was studying for his Bachelors in Commerce (majors: Accounting) from University of Mumbai, India where he got the opportunity to liaise, interact and specialise in complex commercial agribusiness dealings with corporates in Australia, US and Dubai. On weekends, he used to work as a book keeper for various sole proprietorships in and around Mumbai.
“The money was decent, I was able to pay off my University fees and other expenses,” Poorab says. Immediately after his bachelors he got the opportunity to work for a Forbes Global 500 company – Larsen & Toubro Ltd (Oil & Gas Special Projects division) in their Finance and Accounts team.
“It cemented in my mind that I wanted to be in the corporate environment.” In 2004, after spending few years with Corporates in India he finally decided to start planning for his next big move to Singapore or Australia. He was more inclined towards pursuing his MBA from Singapore but since the Singaporean Government did not allow part-time work during studies it wasn’t a feasible decision for him.
After almost 15 months of preparation for Australian visa assessment, and financial backing from friends and relatives the day finally arrived in July 2005.
It all started when he was in standard five in his school and had just started to get into the routine of reading newspapers. He used to have a very good rapport with the school librarian and so used to pick up old newspapers with promise of returning it back in a weeks’ time. Although he didn’t understand a lot from it at that time but had got into the knack of reading a lot about investment bankers, his dream and understand as to their role in the overall society.
After moving to Sydney, Australia, Poorab was working part-time for various organisations where he was responsible to sell Commonwealth Bank and St. George Bank’s insurances. He also worked for a global non-profit organisation AFS Intercultural Programs as a treasurer for NSW division.
After his early morning MBA lectures, day work, Poorab used to travel in and around Sydney organising and conducting business and finance related meet ups, workshops and seminars to pass on his industry knowledge, discuss about the world economy, as is market conditions and the suitable investment options and opportunities at different stages of human life cycle. This experience helped him meet people from all facets of life, different nationalities and aptitude.
“I was working for minimum 18 hours every day since 1998 and preparing myself both financially, mentally and physically for living an international advisors dream,” says Poorab. “That first major expense to organise and conduct business meetings for two years during university studies, I remember regularly going to an ATM and pulling out A$ 250. It was very tough, from salary which was required to pay off my living expense, university fees and the loan that I had taken from bank, friends and relatives.”
But then after all the long hours, kicking in thousands of dollars and almost when I was on the verge of completing my MBA (majors: Finance) from University of Technology, Sydney, Poorab got his first investment banking break with a global investment bank in Sydney, Australia.
Since that day, Poorab has gained several years’ experience in international investment banking and principal investments, focusing on advisory assignments, debt and equity capital raisings for companies in the natural resources, energy, agribusiness, property, IT and FMCG sectors across the globe.
Recently, Poorab has worked in corporate advisory roles in Australia with Emerald Partners, Leadenhall VRG and Green and Gold where he has undertaken investments and advisory assignments locally as well as in the US, most SE Asian countries, emerging markets of West Africa, Kyrgyzstan and China.
Poorab through his wide network channel has developed extensive contacts throughout the globe with high net worth investors and brokerage firms as well as with a number of leading industrial conglomerates.
Amazingly, though, he had no business coach and can’t quote from any Harvard how-to guide to business, Poorab has made it to the big league. He still says “It was trial and error”. “However, I never thought that I was going to fail. You work it out as you go and I’ve made a fair share of mistakes, but I’ve learned from them every time.” Poorab is risk-averse. “I do everything at low risk, I’m not going to invest, wait and hope it works,” says Poorab. “I explore the market, I visit and talk to local businesses, understand the market sentiments.”