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Ma, I coulda been a surgeon!

July 27, 2016

Vinod Kumar   

Managing Director and Group CEO Tata Communications

I remember when I was a child that I had all the usual dreams about being an astronaut, a cowboy or a fighter pilot, classic boyhood stuff. Those dreams are about us exploring identity as much as about setting our sights on a career goal and as I grew I settled on something a little more realistic.

In my youth I seriously considered becoming a doctor.  I found – and still find – medicine fascinating. There is something inherently appealing in understanding how we connect together internally, in understanding the network of veins, arteries, nerves and bones that make us function.  I have several doctors in my family, who have spent years working to save and improve lives, and I considered following suit.

However, as I moved into my late teens, I discovered my long term passion lay not in the human network but in the networks enabled by technology. This started because I began to see how medics were using technology to help patients, tracking symptoms and information that meant they could diagnose with accuracy and treat with efficiency.

I’ve spent most of my career focused on communications networks and now, with the Internet playing such a dominant role in every aspect of life, I indulge my fascination for medicine by exploring how communications and medicine come together. That encompasses everything from sites like webMD that make medical knowledge available to the man in the street to the radical transformation of the health insurance infrastructure in the US with Obamacare. Another wonderful example is the growth in brain computing interfaces which have the potential to help paraplegics walk.

So while medicine was an early but abandoned interest, I do have a confession to make. It appears that I may not have entirely grown out of my boyhood passions. In a dream world I would be a polo professional, competing at the highest levels and indulging my love of the sport and riding to the max. I am fortunate enough to be able to play polo and it is the most energising and relaxing way I know to pass my time. While I suspect my opportunity to go professional may have passed, perhaps one day I’ll get to be a somewhat overqualified stable boy. I suspect even then I’d be looking for ways to connect.

How do you passions change the way you view the world? Let us know in the comments below