This Indian CEO is  Becoming Popular as the Canadian Warren Buffet

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Prem Watsa’s journey from an IIT guy to becoming CEO of a financial holding company worth $22.78 billion is surely remarkable. Born in Hyderabad, the man successfully made his way from engineering to business. His decision to pursue business studies was a saviour for Markel Financial. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy and desperately needed a miracle to prevent it from becoming a failure. Luck favoured Markel Financial the moment it got Prem Watsa’s attention. 

Mr. Watsa renamed the Canadian trucking insurance company from Markel Financial to Fairfax Financial. He helped the company reach a compound growth of 25% in book value per share from 1985 to 2010. He is still at the age of 73, making wonders in the field of finance. 

But what made Prem Wasta come to Canada to change the whole insurance sector?

To know how this immigrant paved his way into Forbes Billionaires, we need to dig a little into his past.

The Journey from IIT Madras to Richard Ivey School of Business Ontario 

Mr. Watsa’s parents were enthusiastic about his studies, naturally making him a good student. He thoroughly enjoyed study sessions instead of partying at night. As he became more indulgent in studying, he gradually became proficient in math and chemistry. His father recognized his strong traits and recommended he enter the engineering world. Prem Watsa had no particular interest in engineering, but he still followed his father’s advice. 

  • Eventful college time from 1966-1971

Even though Mr. Watsa had no interest in this path, taking admission to IIT was not a half-bad decision. He enjoyed studies, played sports, made memorable friendships and even met the love of his life during his time in college. All these good things, but still, Prem’s mind was wandering towards business. He studied hard for IIM college in India and eventually got admission. But life had some other plans.

  • Moving to Canada with only $8 in the pocket 

Prem’s older brother was already residing in Canada. He saw Prem Watsa could do better here, so he asked him to go abroad instead of doing something in India. Mr. Watsa showed no hesitation and, with just $8, came to a foreign land. He did manage to come, but the challenge ahead was how he would fund his education.

  • Working His Way Up from Selling Appliances  

Prem Watsa aimed to do his MBA from the University of Western Ontario Business School, currently known as Richard Ivey School of Business. He had the vision but had to find a way to make it into reality. So Mr. Watsa started selling AC appliances and furnaces door to door. It was a lot of hard work, but according to Mr. Watsa, it was an experience that led him to find qualities within himself that he had never known existed. In fact, he has to say that his children are less fortunate as they didn’t get to live the immigrant experience. 

The journey of his education made him capable of doing wonders ahead. Here’s how his career started, which eventually led to the birth of FairTax Financial:

The Birth and Success of FairTax Financial 

  • Prem Watsa’s initial learning about insurance 

Nobody is born a genius, and the same was the case with Mr. Watsa. His way into the insurance sector accidentally began with his quest to find a job in a foreign country. Being an immigrant, he had to face high competition from the Natives of Canada, who were given first preference at any job interview. His search for a job was challenging, but it finally ended in 1974. Confederation Life Insurance Company in Toronto hired him as an investment analyst. During his years at the company, he gained some valuable knowledge about insurance from his manager and mentor, John Watson.

  • Pouring his knowledge and hard work to build FairTax 

In 1985, Prem Watsa decided to gather a group of investors to take control of a trucking insurance company in Ontario with 10 million in premiums. His passion for building a good company turned the insurance company on the verge of bankruptcy into a success. Thanks to his hard work, the company is now a success in Canada and many other countries. However, it was not just his passion and hard work that led him here but also the values he holds that helped sustain the company’s growth.

  • Strong values that created long-lasting foundations

As a Christian, he held his beliefs and also ensured that they were applied in his company. It became his mission to treat the employees and customers with respect. Also, he made a great effort to maximize the shareholders’ benefits. Many entrepreneurs think their duty is to make these three parties happy. However, Mr. Watsa understood the value of communities. He knew that the communities were what helped him conduct his business. So, he made it clear to revert by reinvesting about one to two percent of profit into those communities.

All the hard work has now made him a living legend in the field of finance. He is one of the influential immigrants who has made his name in Canada. However, one wonders why he is associated with Warren Buffet. 

The reason behind the name of Canadian Warren Buffet 

His success story is quite similar to that of Warren Buffet, who gave him his name. Like Buffet, Mr. Watsa built his insurance empire from scratch, and even their business models are similar. Prem Watsa has a knack for finding companies with growth and acquiring them, just like Warren Buffet. Well, even though he is linked with Warren in many areas, he still holds his name strong when looking at top CEOs in Canada. His unquestionable dedication and hard work to this date are inspiring. Many entrepreneurs who are struggling to establish themselves in a foreign land are seeking motivation from his story.

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