By Gurmukh Singh
TORONTO: Imagine when a billionaire hires you to manage his money. You ought to be very brilliant because billionaires never hire second-rate people.
Toronto-based Suresh Madan, who comes from Ludhiana, is one such financial wizard whom Canadian billionaire Paul Reichmann hired to manage his money.
“I had just landed in Toronto when I was hired by Paul. As you know, he is a billionaire and the man behind some of the tallest buildings in the world. My job was to manage his personal wealth,’’ says Madan who is currently executive vice president and portfolio manager at Excalibur Capital Management Inc. in Toronto.
For 10 years, Madan not only made money for the billionaire but also a name for himself. He was snapped up by the famous Silicon Valley-born TiE – short for The Indus Entrepreneurs – to mentor and create entrepreneurs. Briefly, TiE was created in 1992 by Silicon Valley-based Sikh entrepreneur Kanwal Rekhi and other successful entrepreneurs, executives and professionals who had their ancestral roots in the Indus region of present-day Pakistan.
And because of Madan’s success in steering their Toronto chapter, TiE has now elevated him to its global board of trustees.
It is a rare honour as Madan is the only person from Canada on the TiE global board even as he remains president of TiE Toronto.
“I feel very honoured and privileged to be on the TiE global board,’’ says the soft-spoken Madan.
But he gives credit to the Punjab Agriculture University for what he is today.
“PAU opened the world to me,’’ he says, thanking his alma-mater.
Coming from a non-farming background as his father was a teacher with the Advanced Training Institute in Ludhiana, he said he grew up playing at the PAU. “I just fell in love with that place. So after my matriculation, I enrolled at the PAU to do BSc honours in soil sciences. To be a soil scientist, you need knowledge of so many branches of science. It was pretty exciting.’’
So when he graduated with a gold medal from PAU, he could have been hired as a top soil scientist in Punjab.
But a small incident changed his life, he says. “One day, a classmate of mine was going to fill up a form for the MBA course at PAU. I had no clues about the MBA course. So I said I will also filled up the form, and I was selected. But one year down the line, I was told the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad was the best place in India to get an MBA. So I wrote the entrance and was selected.’’
After topping the MBA course at IIM Ahmedabad in 1983, the young gold medalist from Ludhiana was hired by a pharma company – which was later acquired by Sanofi – as a marketing executive in Bombay.
“In 1986, I made a switch from marketing to market research when I joined a company that specialized in market research, and then in 1992 I was hired by the Consulting Centre for Finance and Investment.’’
This job was to take Madan global.
His firm got an assignment in Saudi Arabia and the young man sent there to do evaluation of the assets of a sheikh family planning to divide their assets among the siblings.
“It was in Saudi Arabia while managing money of sheikhs that I got involved with stock markets. The Internet had just come, and I was hooked on researching US financial markets. This led me to complete the prestigious CFA degree from the US.’’
Not surprisingly, when his time came for him to leave Saudi Arabia, Madan chose North America.
Landing in Toronto in 1997, he was quickly hired by the billionaire Paul Reichmann. “I was with him for 10 years.’’
Moving to his current job in 2007, Madan has enlarged his role from managing rich people’s money to creating entrepreneurs through TiE. With him at the helm, TiE has in fact created and nurtured entrepreneurs who went to sold their companies for global majors such as Intel for millions.
In addition, Madan is also the chairman of the IIM Americas which represents the alumni in North America of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
The talented man from Ludhiana has come a long way. (This article appeared in the Times of India first)