A sneak peek at the man behind Akhil Shahani, education entrepreneur & MD, The Shahani Group

The Proust Questionnaire is a questionnaire about one’s personality. It has its origins in a parlour game popularised by Marcel Proust, the French essayist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.
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Akhil Shahani is an education entrepreneur and the Managing Director of The Shahani Group, which runs a range of colleges in areas like business, media, real estate, finance and the like. His colleges incorporate global industry-oriented education systems that make their graduates truly employable. He is also a Venture Partner in Kaizen Private Equity, which is India’s first private equity fund that is focused solely on the education sector. In addition, Akhil serves as the Chairman of Global Discovery Schools, which are a franchised chain of 14 innovative schools.

Akhil completed his MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Chicago and his Doctorate in Education (Ed.D) from the University of Liverpool, where his thesis was on Student Employability.

Akhil is the recipient of many awards for his work in education like the Jamnalal Bajaj Award, Bharat Shiromani Award, PIMR Outstanding Educationist Award, Rex Karmaveer Chakra Gold Award, the Bharat Gaurav Award and the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award among others. Here are his responses to our Proust questionnaire…

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A book in one hand, a gin & tonic in the other, lying on a beach in Bali with my family.

What is your greatest fear?

Losing my family.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Getting bored quickly.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

The inability to think big.

Which living person do you most admire?

No single person. Even the weakest have their strengths and the strongest have their weaknesses.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Books, books, books.

What is your current state of mind?

Introspecting to dig up answers to these questions and sometimes being surprised by my own answers.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Modesty.

On what occasion do you lie?

Whenever anyone asks me how they look in their unflattering clothes.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My growing bald spot.

Which living person do you most despise?

Really can’t think of anyone.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

His ability to love his woman.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Her ability to love her man.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Great!



What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My wife and my two lovely daughters.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Playing the jazz saxophone.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Nothing. Anything I want to change, I change it.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I can only know that at the end of my life.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Akhil K. Shahani.

Where would you most like to live?

Right where I am, in Mumbai.

What is your most treasured possession?

My family.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Having no purpose in life.

What is your favourite occupation?

Educating others.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I’m always optimistic.

What do you most value in your friends?

Being authentic with myself and others.



Who are your favourite writers?

Too many to mention.

Who is your hero of fiction?

God!

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Gautama Buddha.

Who are your heroes in real life?

I’m surrounded by heroes and heroines who fight daily adversities to bring up their families.

What is your favourite name?

Mine.

What is it that you most dislike?

Boiled bitter gourd.

What is your greatest regret?

No regrets. Every mistake is a learning experience that made me who I am today.

How would you like to die?

Skydiving at the age of 105.

What is your favourite journey?

The journey into myself.

What is your motto?

Never live your life with mottos.