As one enters Chennai from the Bangalore highway, one cannot miss Dr. MGR Engineering College standing tall and welcoming everyone to the city. The college also stands tall for being one of the few educational institutions in the city that embraces and adapts to new trends and technologies readily.

Founded in 1988 by Dr. AC Shanmugam, the college was succeeded by the establishment of the Thai Moogambigai Dental College and Hospital in 1991. Following his father’s illustrious footsteps, Dr. ACS Arunkumar (son of Dr. Shanmugam) has now taken over and the ACS Medical College and Hospital, which was established
under his helm.

In a free-wheeling chat with Provoke Lifestyle, this young visionary charts out his well-laid plans for the university.

How difficult was it to take over the institution?
My father has always been my biggest inspiration. I walk on his path and ensure I uphold all the good deeds he has done for students, the community, the State and the nation at large. I took over and have made inroads by adapting and evolving as the economy throws new challenges at us. Today is not the same as yesterday. I cannot rest and bask on past glories.

What motivates you?
I am motivated when I see success in my student’s eyes. I am happy when I see parents standing proudly next to their children who have graduated. I am at peace when I see these very students of mine; create future possibilities for the thousands of people in this country who need jobs.

How do you define success?
Success cannot be pinned down to one singular idea. It is one of those rare goals that can be seen yet remain unseen. It is an endless progress. The progress is success, not just reaching a target.

What is your favorite aspect of being an educationalist?
I personally relate to education as a flower blooming or a seed growing into a mighty tree. I have personally witnessed students who hail from a rural backgrounds or low-income families… enter our college, study hard, work even harder and when they graduate with flying colours… get placed in Fortune500 companies. This makes me proud, knowing that we have done something right and have been a part of this student’s success story. We know the student will achieve greater heights in the coming years and we take pride that they were a part of this institution.

What is your advice to the graduates who aim to become entrepreneurs?
If you aim to become an entrepreneur, your belief and motivation will make you one. You need a strong conviction and a never-say-die attitude. The challenges are many and you will face many failures but do keep in mind that these are the stepping stones to success. Being an entrepreneur is the best career move you can make today. India needs entrepreneurs who can take up this challenge of building products and implementing their ideas. I would say, just go for it.

What are the top three skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur?
The three rare skills I would say are Patience, Focus and Dedication. To become a successful entrepreneur, you need these three and unfortunately, everyone is in a hurry to reach the top, not realizing you cannot go anywhere without these three. Eventually, they learn it the hard way.

Which book you prefer to read and recommend?
I prefer to read books that inspire me. My biggest inspiration was when I read books on Kamarajar. His humility is awe inspiring. Another book that I read time and again is My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi and lastly, what seems to be the world’s favorite book — The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
Understanding Others.

Lastly, how do you divide your time amongst your varied businesses?
I am a go-getter. I do not rest till I have completed what I was set to do for the day. I have a dedicated team who handle the day-to-day affairs of my varied businesses. Education, Hospitality and Philanthropy is what we are into. In Hospitality, we have a strong presence in Chennai and Vellore under the Benz Park Tulip brand and I am also the Vice-Chairman of ACS Group of Companies in Arani, Kodaikanal and Bangalore.

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