The Indian entrepreneur who would like to spend a weekend with the Dalai Lama and an hour with Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk

Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Sanjeev Gadhia was born in Kisumu in the lakeside town of Western Kenya. He was educated in Bangalore, India before moving to London to earn his university degree.

As a student in London, Sanjeev got his first job working for an uncle’s travel company at age 17 specializing in selling holiday packages to the US and Canada.

By 25, Sanjeev had returned to his birthplace and found his niche in entrepreneurship. He built from scratch Astral Aviation, one of the leading cargo carriers in Kenya and East Africa, which he dreams of turning into a Pan African airline with hubs in West and Southern Africa “so that we can offer a solution to every country in Africa.”

“I am a banker by profession, however, was unable to resonate with my profession in Kenya, hence, started my entrepreneurial journey, specializing in the procurement and logistics of humanitarian cargoes, which led to the formation of Astral Aviation, to meet the air-logistics requirements of the aid and relief sector,” Sanjeev shared with Air Cargo Update.

“My interest in aviation was in the glamorous passenger business, however, on my return to Kenya, I felt the need to specialize in air-cargo due to the lack of freighters in East and Horn of Africa, to meet the humanitarian requirements of the UN,” he added.

Nearly two decades since he formed Astral Aviation, Sanjeev still takes a hands-on approach on its day-to-day operations with an open-door-policy. He starts his day at 6:30 am followed by an 8-hour shift at their office at the AFS Terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

“I have an open door policy and I don’t have a secretary, which encourages anyone from the office to meet me at short-notice. Decision making is decentralized, hence, I have the opportunity to focus on strategy,” he said.

Read on the rest of our Q&A with the founder and CEO of Astral Aviation who remains modest despite his obvious success.

How do you handle stress in a very competitive industry?

I rarely get stressed, as I am spiritual by nature, as I accept that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes I don’t have the power to control my present circumstances or what the future holds for me. I believe in doing my best with honesty and sincerity, and don’t believe in giving up regardless, of the challenge I am facing at that moment.

How do you spend your free time?

I enjoy reading and recently downloaded Blinkist which is an excellent app. I enjoy playing golf with my friends or my two sons. Due to the nature of my travels, I value every moment I am at home, and find that my best moments are the ones with my wife and sons.

What is your dream vacation like?

I enjoy an activity based vacation with my family as we take at least two holidays in a year. My idea of a vacation is based on a destination where we can experience culture, fine food and hospitality. South Africa, India, England and Thailand are some of our favorite destinations.

If you were given the chance to meet someone, who would it be and why?

A weekend with Dalai Lama for spiritual enlightenment; An hour with Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk will be awesome experience in entrepreneurship; A day with Narendra Modi will be a fulfilling experience.My regret is not having the opportunity of meeting Nelson Mandela.

What is your favorite book and why?

Anthony Tjan’s book “Good People” restates the case for goodness in the cutthroat world of business. By redefining and practicing Goodness, we can be better leaders, mentors and human beings.