Business, like golf, can be pretty tough, but Anil Kapur sees this as the sweet struggle of playing a solid game, particularly in financial services where there are more bunkers than green.
Kapur’s innings are long. He joined Western Union more than a decade ago. After finishing business school in the US, he worked in Dubai before returning to India. But his most valuable lessons, he says, came not from B-school classrooms but India’s villages.
Dealing with basic banking solutions, India Post, setting up Western Union centres in the heartland... all these challenges reinforced his belief that big growth lies in small business and small money does matter.
Tiny money transfers – from IT whizz-kids in California remitting money to their moms in Chennai to transfers by a driver to his family in Uttar Pradesh – added up to millions, helping Western Union to build a strong network in India.
Having settled the remittance business, Kapur, in his 40s, is now the regional divisional director, India and West Asia, Western Union Business Solutions, a dedicated payments arm that “enables companies of all sizes to send and receive international payments and manage foreign exchange, creating unique solutions tailored to suit their global needs”.
For the young lad who grew up in different parts of the country thanks to a dad in the armed forces, joining a dynamic business wasn’t difficult. “I believe small traders who need to do business overseas, or just need to make quick payments to China for the goods need such a service,” he explains.
Additionally, with more than a few lakh students studying overseas, this arm has launched “a new service that will allow foreign universities and higher education institutions to accept tuition payments from students here in Indian rupees.”
In terms of his game, Kapur says he tries to play golf as often as possible. While inspirations come from different places, in business Kapur has been a big advocate of mobile banking and continues to believe in the boom expected in mobile money management, which he believes has the power to be what Tiger Woods was to golf across the world.
When Kapur isn’t rising at the crack of dawn to get to a course, he spends the evening playing the guitar as the sun sets by his home in Juhu. That’s where I usually meet him, on his annual jam sessions but it’s not just these strings he needs to balance. He is squarely focused on staying on the fairway of business growth.
Shaili Chopra is an award-winning business journalist and founder of www.golfingindian.com