7 questions with … Sunil Kumar Sekharan

Sunil Kumar Sekharan is CEO of Fine Fare Foods, operator of Waitrose and Spinneys in the Middle East. He began as a store assistant in 1996 and has since worked his way up. The Middle East houses over 60 Spinneys and 15 Waitrose branches. With sustainability kept top of mind, Fine Fare Foods has launched eco-friendly shopping bags and reversible vending machines, partnered with humanitarian foundations and opened a fully sustainable Spinneys branch. Sekharan shares how his morning routine prepares him for his role.

What is the best way to start your day?  

I wake up at 4.30am every day. For me, it’s the best part of the day because it’s quiet, peaceful and my mind is fresh. I spend the next 2 hours reading, watching educational videos on YouTube and exercising. Following a routine helps me prepare for each day. 

If you could be any character from a movie, who would you be?  

Forrest Gump, without a doubt. That character has always inspired me and made me believe that anything is possible with consistent hard work and dedication. 

What is your greatest achievement?  

I have had a successful career over the last 30 years, which has allowed me to interact with individuals from all walks of life. My roles in various leadership positions have given me several opportunities to help people on both the personal and professional fronts. 

What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?  

Academic knowledge is important, but it needs to be balanced with practical knowledge (as well as street smarts), which helps you navigate the ins and outs of life. Theoretical knowledge alone won’t be enough to deal with every problem you face. It’s important to assess and understand all aspects of the situation and only then make an informed decision. 

If you had 24 hours left on Earth, what would you do? 

I’d spend it in silence and reflect on the life I’ve lived.  

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?  

I have been fortunate enough to have come across a number of people who have inspired me, but if I had to choose, I’d say my mother and my former boss, Jannie Holtzhausen. The daily struggles faced by the common man also inspire me to do my part in helping those less fortunate than myself overcome the hurdles life inevitably presents. 

What would you like to achieve in the next 10 years?  

On the professional front, I would like to contribute towards the growth of various stakeholders in the business – colleagues, suppliers and shareholders. Outside of the professional sphere, I would like to encourage individuals to focus on their well-being and support them in their journeys towards personal improvement. 

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