Gautam Adani, now Asia’s richest man, regrets not finishing college. The billionaire, who dropped out of formal education at the age of 16 in 1978 to take a train to Mumbai to try his luck and three years later made his first killing, an Rs10,000 commission doing a diamond trade with a Japanese buyer, said early experiences made him wise but formal education rapidly expands one’s knowledge.
The dry and tough living conditions of Gujarat’s Banaskantha shaped his social behaviour, but his father’s involvement in what is now known as forward trades gave him the initial learning, Adani said at the 75th year celebrations of Vidya Mandir Trust Palanpur in Gujarat.
“I was just 16 years old when I chose to give up my education and move to Mumbai. In this context, a question I often get asked is why I moved to Mumbai instead of working with my family. As many youngsters in the audience would agree, the optimism and desire for independence of a teenage boy is hard to contain. All I knew was that I wanted to do something different and do it on my own,” Mr Adani said.
“Another question I am often asked is whether I have any regret about not going to college. Reflecting on my life and the different turns it took, I now do believe that I would have benefited if I had finished college. While my early experiences made me wise, I now realize that formal education rapidly expands one’s knowledge,” he said.
“To acquire wisdom, one must experience but to acquire knowledge, one must study,” he said. These are complementary, he said. “Though 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,” Mr Adani said.