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While sitting on Forbes’ list as Asia’s richest man, Indian entrepreneur Gautam Adani has expressed regrets over dropping out of college, believing his skills would have developed faster if he had obtained a degree.
Speaking at the 75th anniversary of Vidya Mandir Trust Palanpur, an education non-governmental organization in Gujarat, India, Adani shared that he discontinued his formal studies at the age of 16. He then moved to Mumbai and worked as a diamond trader.
Adani said all he wanted was to “do something different” and to “do it on my own.”
Three years later, he started his own brokerage in diamond trading, effectively beginning his journey as an entrepreneur.
That venture eventually grew and expanded to become multinational conglomerate Adani Group, with a current range of businesses that includes port development and operations, aerospace and military defense, thermal power generation and solar manufacturing. Last month, the company took control of NDTV, India’s largest private media network.
Despite his entrepreneurial success as the world’s third richest man with a net worth of $126.8 billion, Adani believes he could have done better.
The 60-year-old said he often gets asked whether he has regrets about dropping out of college, a fact that has earned him comparisons to U.S. business magnates such as John D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt.
“Reflecting on my life and the different turns it took, I — now — do believe that I would have benefitted if I had finished college,” Adani said at the Gujarat event, as per PTI. “While my early experiences made me wise, I now realize that formal education rapidly expands one’s knowledge. To acquire wisdom, one must experience but to acquire knowledge, one must study.”
He added, “And although I will never really know, I do reflect at times that the expansion in my abilities may have been faster had I gone to college.”
Still, Adani understood that he had a unique advantage as a first-generation entrepreneur: “Having nothing to lose.”
“This belief is their strength. In my own mind, this was liberating,” he said. “I had no legacy to follow – but I had the opportunity to create a legacy.”
By the age of 29, Adani said he had a full appreciation of the value of scale and speed. These dimensions would later define everything he and his company did.
Today, Adani Group is the world’s largest solar power company and is poised to be the largest renewable company by 2030.
It is also India’s largest integrated energy player, largest airport operator and largest provider of ports and logistics.
“We have declared our path forward in new sectors that include data centers, super apps, industrial clouds, aerospace and defense, metals, and petrochemicals,” Adani said, describing future expansions.