CEO's career took flight after tough start in life
CEO of aviation strategic consultancy agency overcame rocky start
His life before becoming CEO was nothing short of challenging.
Mr Priveen Raj Naidu is the founder and CEO of Reapra Aviation Partners, an aviation strategic consultancy agency.
The 40-year-old is sharing his experiences at the SP Jain School of Global Management for people who are midway through their careers.
Mr Naidu was a dyslexic N-level student who later pursued tourism and hospitality at the Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre (Shatec) and received a degree in marketing from Kaplan Singapore at the age of 32.
He told The New Paper: "People think that as a CEO, I must have graduated from NUS (the National University of Singapore) or a major university overseas but I was just an average student."
Coping with dyslexia was tough, and he revealed he was often told he was "stupid".
His mother raised him and his brother single-handedly after their father left them when they were young, and Mr Naidu supported himself throughout his diploma years in Shatec.
He added that there were days where he didn't eat while in school as he needed to save money.
But then he stumbled upon an opportunity to be part of a two-man team that set up low-cost carrier AirAsia in Singapore.
Mr Naidu said: "In the beginning, it was tough. We didn't even have an office and would work at Starbucks with just our laptops."
But he eventually climbed the ladder to become a respectable figure in the aviation industry.
As senior management in a leading airline, Mr Naidu was no stranger to the many perks that came with a cushy job.
But these perks sparked his decision to leave the company, as he felt he had lost sight of what truly mattered - personal development and growth.
Opting to take a mid-life pitstop from corporate life, he embarked on a 108-day trip to Tibet to train as a monk.
Then, he was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a painful and debilitating chronic condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue and sleeping problems.
Today, he does not rely on medications, and despite the pain, believes in his personal "mind over matter" mantra.
He embarked on a journey to set up his own company, Reapra Aviation Partners. On the side, he mentors other entrepreneurs in the Indian community, and creates educational opportunities for children in Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal and India.
"I often get asked if I think the glass is half empty or half full. My answer is simple - I have the glass so I am thankful," said Mr Naidu.