Vinod Sekhar is currently Chairman and Group Chief Executive of The Petra Group, Chairman and Founder of Green Rubber Global and the Hon. Consul General to Malaysia for St Vincent and The Grenadines.
He is 46 and began his business career while still in college studying biology where he started the Vincent Siefer Clothing Co. with USD$50, and soon after formed the Sitavani Foundation, which focuses its attention on the education of children and on child development programs. In 1990, he formed the STI Group with partners and was responsible for some groundbreaking businesses such as the world’s smallest optic engine, the first circular abrasive discs, Southeast Asia’s first commercial Internet company (at a time when Malaysia had a total of 700 internet users), and a variety of other technology innovations. The multimedia arm of the group was also responsible for the first Malaysian joint venture to produce a movie at Disney MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida (Tarzan: The Epic Adventures).
After 1997, STI merged with other international interests and The Petra Group was created. Petra is a technology conglomerate responsible for several global technology developments related to Elastomer recycling (Green Rubber), deproteinization, HIV and cancer treatment programs, innovative financial software, biophotonics and biofuels. Datuk Vinod was also one of the first Malaysians to venture into the former Soviet Union after its breakup and was a part of the privatization of the worlds second largest petrochemical plant, Nizhnekampsk Neftekhin. He was also the first Southeast Asian to own both Formula 2000 and Formula 3 Championship motorsports teams, and he founded Malaysia’s first sports car company. Datuk Vinod also started East Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable farm in Malaysia, 3 years before the Prime Minister called for the development of commercial vegetable farms critical to Malaysia.
Datuk Vinod has presented a variety of papers at and participated in many international conferences including the International Human Rights Conference in Brussels, the first Malaysian International Youth Conference for Unity in Kuala Lumpur, the Asia Europe Young Leaders Conference in Ireland, the New Asian Leaders Retreat in Seoul, Korea which was a programme of the World Economic Forum, and the WEF’s Davos Annual meeting. He was the Chair of the first New Asian Leaders–Emerging Arab Leaders Summit in Langkawi, where he hosted his friend King Abdullah II of Jordan along with 200 Asian and Arab business leaders. He has been a speaker at multiple Forbes Global CEO Conferences including Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney. Datuk Vinod is the Chairman of the Petra Foundation (which he founded and which currently plays a role in the lives of over 12,000 children globally), the Sekhar Foundation, the Chairman of the Pelita Harapan (Lantern of Hope) for terminally ill children, the Co-Chairman of the Innocent Child Appeal Fund Board for abused children, and the Chairman of the Sitavani Foundation. He was also the founding President of Malaysiana Muda, the first non-partisan multiracial national youth organization created to develop unity among Malaysian youth, where he warned of polarization among young Malaysians two decades before the government finally acknowledged it was out of control.
Datuk Vinod also sits on the boards of several other Malaysian and international corporate and charitable bodies. He was the creator of the “Global Education Conference” held in Kuala Lumpur, where for the first time ever, principals from the top schools in the world such as Eton, Sydney Grammar, Chinese International School, Hong Kong and Harvard West Lake came together to discuss building bridges between different educational curriculums. In all, 30 schools were represented. The “Sekhar Initiative,” as it was referred to then, led to the creation of several global programs that enhanced interaction among the schools and led to the creation of one of Kuala Lumpur’s major international schools, The Mont’ Kiara International School. He was also named as the Honorary Consul General of St. Vincent & the Grenadines to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
In 1991, for his contribution to the globalization of education and the education of children, Datuk Vinod was made the first and youngest Asian fellow of Kappa Delta Pi, a US-based international Honors Society for Education. This organization awarded its “The Points of Excellent” award to his company, making it the first Asian company to be so honored. For his contribution to society and and the nation the 10th King of Malaysia, conferred on him a “Datukship” on the occasion of His Majesty’s’ 71st birthday. Datuk Vinod was 26 years old and one the youngest in thenations history to be so honoured.
The Harvard Business Review published a case study on Datuk Vinod, Petra and Green Rubber – thought to be one of the only times a Malaysian has had that privilege. The World Economic Forum named him in the top 5 of its 40 “New Asian Leaders” (NAL) and a Global Leader for Tomorrow (GLT). Grant Thornton named him the Malaysian Corporate Leader of the Year in August 2008. He received the award from the current Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhiyuddin Yassin, and in December 2008, he received the prestigious Global Green Award from Global Green USA for Green Rubber. He was the youngest, only Asian, and third ever non-American, after President Mikhail Gorbachev and Giorgio Armani, to receive the award. He has received several other awards including: the Global Indian Award presented by the Minister for Overseas Indians in Delhi, Global Indian Origin Magazine’s 50 Most Influential Business Leaders of Indian Origin in the world, the Outstanding Global Entrepreneur by the SME Association, and The Societe Award from the Asia Pacific Brand Foundation, the Chambers of the GCC (Gulf Cooperative Council) presented him with a leadership award for Technology and Social Capitalism, the NRI Institute in India conferred on him the Pravasi Divas award, and most recently the American Leadership Development Association and Leaders International named him the ‘ Global Visionary Leader 2015’, to name a few.
Datuk Vinod is also on the leadership council of The Climate Group, which is chaired by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and includes Sir Richard Branson and the former Chairman of HSBC, Lord Stephen Greene. He also acted as the underwriter for the first ever Clinton Global Initiative Asia in Hong Kong, and hosted his good friend President Bill Clinton in Kuala Lumpur. He is the advisor to the Faculty of Business and Law for Multimedia University, Malaysia’s largest private university with over 20,000 students. Datuk Vinod received the Keys to the City of Armenia in Colombia for his help after the devastating landslides that killed thousands. In 1999, he also set up an orphanage in Colombia called the Petra-Valentina House. He funded in full the 2007 “Black Ball” in London hosted by Alicia Keys to raise money for her charity “Keep a Child Alive.”
Datuk Vinod is a great advocate for what he calls “Social Capitalism,” where business interests and societal concerns must work hand in hand. Datuk Vinod has become an activist for what he calls “simple principles of a civilized society” where all businessmen must involve themselves in their own society’s positive development, and has been a victim of both political and corporate attacks on himself both fabricated and defamatory. Despite it all, he has to this date refused to be bowed or cowed, and he continues to speak his views openly and build his multinational technology group and his foundations. His latest national work involves the planned launch of the Malaysia Movement to stop the racial polarization of Malaysian society and to create a platform for open debate. Datuk Vinod is a strong supporter of a mindset reform in the Malaysian political landscape.
After being named by Forbes as the 16th richest man in Malaysia, Datuk Vinod and his wife donated 60% of their entire ownership in the Petra group to their charitable foundations.
He has written several plays and a book of poetry. One of his plays, “In the Mind’s Eye,” was produced with success in the US, UK and Malaysia. Datuk Vinod also hosted Malaysia’s first English language talk show on television on Metrovision (now Channel 8). He has also jointly won several New York Festival Awards for his cutting-edge advertising campaigns. In addition to playing golf, tennis and squash, he has a black belt in judo and is an avid fan of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. He has over 290 Disney ties. Datuk Vinod Sekhar is married to Dr.Winy Sekhar; they have two daughters, Petra and Tara.