Life is known to provide us with roadblocks to force us to discover answers in the correct way. Similarly, when Ajai Kumar was in his adolescent years and he lost his father. He then had to give financial security to his family. In order to get out of the crisis, he chose to overcome all obstacles by embracing education as a means to survival.
"I lost my father at the young age of 14 and henceforth was guided by my elder brother, who played a father figure in my life. My brother is a teacher at a government-based school in Delhi. There were many hurdles and challenges which I had to face during that phase of my life. One of the prime obstacles was finances. We had our land after he passed away. We had to rent that land and the field to others for growing crops, and then with that amount of money, our family used to survive. I am also thankful to my brothers, who supported us during the absence of my father," said Kumar
Being a farmer’s son, Kumar grew up and spent his childhood in a village in Kanpur. Like any other rural lifestyle, he lived with his family in humble surroundings, making him value his presence.
He narrates, "There was no electricity in my village until I was in 12th standard. The village was exactly like the villages we have generally seen during train journeys. I lived in a house where there were not many services and facilities available. In short, there was no development. I did my schooling at a government-based school. After passing my 12th standard, I enrolled for a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E) from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Agra. I completed my B.E. in Information Technology and have done an MTech from GGIP University, Delhi."
He worked at multiple leasing telecom companies. He started his career as a Technical Consultant in Global Internet Policy India, framing policies related to the Internet with the help of local stakeholders. After that, he was selected as a Technical Officer at the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), a government-based Internet Exchange, and became the first employee of the company.
"At NIXI, I was responsible for the entire operations of the Internet Exchange and National Internet Registry. My primary task was to approve the authority of internet resources (IP address and AS number). I served as National Internet Registry Special Interest Group (NIR SIG) Chair at APNIC and Secretary of the Asia Pacific Internet Exchange Association (APIX). I tried to open an Internet Exchange for all networks that have an AS number. Somehow it did not happen, and finally, I got an opportunity to work with DE-CIX Interwire India. "
According to Kumar, one thing that life has taught him on this journey is that "what goes around, comes around." If you are good and honest, you are bound to receive the same from others.
He says, "Honesty is one quality that my family, especially my mother, taught me. I was very young when my father left us, so I wasn’t much aware of his teachings. But after that, my mother and brother acted as my mentors and guided me throughout the journey. My mother used to always say a famous Hindi proverb, "RAM JHAROKE LAG KE SABKA MUJRA LE, JO JAISE KARNI KARE TAKO TAISA DE", which means God is overlooking our every activity from one corner, and based on our activities, He gives the result. This is one of the lessons which I learned in my childhood days, and I am still following it. "
Words of wisdom he learnt from mentoring
When asked about his transition to a leader, he says, "Mentorship is a two-way street: Being a mentor offers so much more than simply feeling good about helping others. My Guruji, or mentor, who resides in Vrindavan, taught me strong leadership skills, gained new perspectives, and the lessons that he taught can also serve as reminders to me to follow my good advice! "
He believes mentors raise an individual's confidence and problem-solving abilities. He adds, "Along with developing leadership skills, having a mentor to advise and guide you can increase individual confidence and help develop problem-solving skills. Regarding confidence, research has tied having a mentor to an overall increase in emotional health."
The constant route for his growth
Introduced to the zig-zag of life at multiple levels, Kumar considers his better half as one of his biggest support systems after his parents, as she is the one who stood beside him in every phase of life, whether good or bad.
"After a whole day of work, spending time with my family energizes me the most. I believe work-life balance is necessary in today’s world as people hardly get time to talk to their loved ones. I consider personal time with my family my hobby. I have my wife and two of my daughters in my family. Dishonesty is something I dislike. I always teach my children that being honest is very important in life. For instance, if you think you are capable of doing a given task, then only you agree to it, else you can be honest and say the truth. In this way, your honesty would be appreciated. One common vision that I always believe is that 5–10 years down the line, I want to be a better person than what I am today in both my professional and personal life," he added.
In terms of professional life, he wishes to turn his current company into one of the best internet exchanges in the world.
Kumar says, "There is a five-letter word which motivates us to fight against the hardest situation, i.e., smile." I think people should always keep smiling and keep moving ahead in life, and in the end, everything will be fine. You should do your best and leave the rest to God. You are bound to see good results if you have done hard work. Working with the largest Internet Exchange in the Asia-Pacific region is one of my biggest achievements in life. With the help of our team, we will be deploying the latest technology in the Internet Exchange ecosystem to handle more traffic where customers can take advantage of 400GE ports at our Internet Exchange in India. My next goal in my professional career is to make DE-CIX Mumbai the number one Internet Exchange in the world. "
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