‘Paint every day as your masterpiece': Kaustubh Sonalkar, President, HR, Essar Group, and CEO, Essar Foundation

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

Kaustubh Sonalkar, President, HR, Essar Group, and CEO, Essar Foundation, is the author of an upcoming book titled Fetch your own coffee' which will offer day to day inspiration from the fields of Bollywood and sports. This book is a compilation of many incidents and his own experiences down the years that have taught him invaluable lessons.

Kaustubh has worked for over 20 years and has led designing of HR policies that synchronise business objectives and people growth, cutting across geographies and sectors. His policy designs have been proactive and predictive, with a technology-first approach.

Here are his responses to our Proust questionnaire…

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is a journey. But for the moment, it’s Sunday mornings with the family.

What is your greatest fear?


What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

That I can’t hold a grudge.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


Which living person do you most admire?

My wife.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Emotions. I both get and give them away too generously.

What is your current state of mind?

The team tells me I behave like I’m always on Cloud Nine.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Honour - because it’s easily misguided.

On what occasion do you lie?

Right about now; I can’t give it all away, can I?

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My eyes - they are a dead giveaway of my thoughts.

Which living person do you most despise? 

It’s not a person, rather type - Fence-sitters.

What is the quality you most like in a man?


What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Courage - why would that be different?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?


What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Besides my family - undoubtedly sports.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I already have one - I can see the best in even the most challenging people.

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

My future.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The people I have surrounded myself with.

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

I would like to be born as India’s first prime minister and take different decisions.

Where would you most like to live?

In as many places as I possibly could.

What is your most treasured possession?

My ideas.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

The lack of imagination.

What is your favourite occupation?

Anything that involves creativity.

What is your most marked characteristic?


What do you most value in your friends?


Who are your favourite writers?

Satyajit Ray, Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Ayn Rand.

Who is your hero of fiction?

Harry Potter - I have always believed in the power of young minds.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Historical/mythological - Arjun from the Mahabharata.

Who are your heroes in real life?

The young ones - the people who are yet to change the world with their ideas.

What is it that you most dislike?


What is your greatest regret?

Not being able to pursue multiple careers at once.

How would you like to die?


What is your favourite journey?

From work to home.

What is your motto?

Paint every day as your masterpiece. Also, I believe in the motto: Live. Connect. Think. Repeat.


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