I am convinced that in everyone's life, there is always a person outside of one's immediate family, who has had a life-changing effect on one's personality and career development. There are several people that one encounters throughout life who leave lasting impressions but there usually is one without whom we are convinced we would not be where we are today.
For me this person was my 12th grade (standard) Economics Teacher at Dubai College (my high school), David Hobday. Mr. Hobday, as we would call him, was a methodical teacher and a good athelete. He played cricket and even ran the annual 5km cross country race with the students.
I was an above average student till I came across Mr. Hobday. When I signed up for my 12th grade Economics (A'level), Mr. Hobday was assigned as my Microeconomics Teacher. He had a "magic" folder that he would use which covered all his notes for the year. From a student's perspective his job seemed quite easy at the time: he just seemed to replicate his notes on to the black board. Class after class went by and Mr. Hobday would religously look at his notes and replicate them on the board.
Then it happened. I decided to answer one of his many homework assignments by digging into my elder brother's Economics textbook. A few days after giving in the assignment, Mr. Hobday returned it with a big 100% marked on the paper. As he was handing our the graded homework assignments and walked by my table to hand me my work, I heard him say, "Well Done, Navin. That is great work."
Those words of encouragement did feel good but the best was yet to come. As we walked into the following Economics class and sat down in the usual manner, Mr. Hobday did not open his magic folder. There was an eerie silence in the room as he got up to say what he was about to say. The words that followed changed my life. "Today, I would like Navin to teach the class. I have taken his previous homework assignment and included them in my folder as a teaching tool for years to come. " said Mr. Hobday to everyone's utter surprise.
Till that point in time I don't think I had ever stood up in spoken in public. I made my way to the front of the class and began speaking about the topic at hand. I think it had to do with why the Demand Curve sloped from left to right. The topic, however, was irrelevant. My life had changed in the space of that 1 hour.
That year I went on to get the Economics Prize, an award given annually at school to the best Economics student and went on to ace my A'level (board) exams. That same year I received my admission to my dream college: the Wharton School of Business, the world's premier business school and part of the University of Pennsylvania. Life had changed for me thanks to that one hour where one Economics Teacher placed his confidence in a shy student to teach an entire class.
It was several years later, that I revisited my high school, Dubai College, not as an alumni but as a supplier. We had won the maintainenance contract for the air conditioning of the school. As you can imagine, this contract meant much more to me then just a maintenance contract. Till this day I owe a debt of gratitude to my Service Manager and his team for securing this contract.
As I walked back into Dubai College, I was invited by my former Mathematics teacher, into the staff room, an area forbidden to students. I enquired about Mr. Hobday and was told that he had left the school to teach in Australia. Apparently he had sufferred a heart attack while he was in Dubai but had survived it and moved to Australia. I got hold of his email address but till this day I have not emailed him. That is about to change today: right after I complete this posting, I plan to send him a link to this blog.
This is my story about the one person, outside of my family, who changed my life. By reading this, if you are able to identify the one person that changed yours, please do drop him/her a line or call him by phone and tell him/her about the impact that he/she has had on your life. It is only then that this posting would be of any real worth.