Datuk Vinod Sekhar is currently Chairman and Group Chief Executive of The Petra Group, Chairman and Founder of Green Rubber PLC, Chairman of the Sekhar Foundation, Chairman of the Petra Trust, Chairman of the Lantern of Hope, Chairman of the Malaysia Movement, Chairman of PIPE (the Petra Initiative for Poverty Eradication), Petra Film Studios, Petra Financial, Petra Engineered Homes and Petra Quasa. He is also the Asean Chair for the Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council and the Hon. Consul General to Malaysia for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
He is 52 and began his business career while still in college studying biology where he started the Vincent Siefer Clothing Co. with USD$50, and soon after formed the Sitavani Foundation, which focuses its attention on the education of children and on child development programmes. In 1990, he formed and became the CEO of the STI Group with partners and was responsible for some groundbreaking businesses such as the world’s smallest optic engine, the first circular abrasive discs, Southeast Asia’s first commercial Internet company (at a time when Malaysia had a total of 700 internet users), and a variety of other technology innovations including one of the first virtual reality companies in the US. The multimedia arm of the group was also responsible for the first Malaysian joint venture to produce a movie at Disney MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida (Tarzan: The Epic Adventures).
After the 1997 Asian financial crisis, STI merged with his other international interests and The Petra Group was created. Petra, named after Datuk Vinod’s eldest daughter is a technology conglomerate responsible for several global technology developments related to Elastomer recycling (Green Rubber), deproteinization, HIV and cancer treatment programs, innovative financial software, biophotonics, biofuels, affordable engineered modular homes, films, live entertainment and software development. Datuk Vinod was also one of the first Malaysians to venture into the former Soviet Union after its breakup and was a part of the privatization of the world’s second largest petrochemical plant, Nizhnekampsk Neftekhin. He was also the first Southeast Asian to own both Formula 2000 and Formula 3 Championship motorsports teams, and he founded Malaysia’s first sports car company. Datuk Vinod also started East Asia’s largest fruit and vegetable farm in Malaysia, 3 years before the then Prime Minister called for the development of commercial vegetable farms critical to Malaysia.
Datuk Vinod has presented a variety of papers at and participated in many international conferences including the International Human Rights Conference in Brussels, the first Malaysian International Youth Conference for Unity in Kuala Lumpur, the Asia Europe Young Leaders Conference in Ireland, the New Asian Leaders Retreat in Seoul, Korea which was a programme of the World Economic Forum, and the WEF’s Davos Annual meeting. He was the Chair of the first New Asian Leaders–Emerging Arab Leaders Summit in Langkawi, where he hosted his friend King Abdullah II of Jordan along with 200 Asian and Arab business leaders. He has been a speaker at multiple Forbes Global CEO Conferences. He is the Chairman of the Petra Foundation (which he founded and which currently plays a role in the lives of over 12,000 children globally), the Sekhar Foundation, the Chairman of the Pelita Harapan (Lantern of Hope) for terminally ill children, the Co-Chairman of the Innocent Child Appeal Fund Board for abused children, and the Chairman of the Sitavani Foundation. He was also the founding President of Malaysiana Muda, the first non-partisan multiracial national youth organization created to develop unity among Malaysian youth, where he warned of polarization among young Malaysians two decades before the government finally acknowledged it was out of control.
Datuk Vinod sits on the boards of several other Malaysian and international corporate and charitable bodies. He was the creator of the “Global Education Conference” held in Kuala Lumpur, where for the first time ever, principals from the top schools in the world such as Eton, Sydney Grammar, Chinese International School, Hong Kong and Harvard West Lake came together to discuss building bridges between different educational curriculums. In all, 30 schools were represented. The “Sekhar Initiative,” as it was referred to then, led to the creation of several global programs that enhanced interaction among the schools and led to his his creation of one of Kuala Lumpur’s major international schools, The Mont’ Kiara International School, which he developed with his partners. He was also named as the Honorary Consul General of St. Vincent & the Grenadines to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
In 1991, for his contribution to the globalization of education and the education of children, Datuk Vinod was made the first and youngest Asian fellow of Kappa Delta Pi, a US-based international Honors Society for Education. This organization awarded its “The Points of Excellent” award to his company, making it the first Asian company to be so honored. For his contribution to society and the nation the 10th King of Malaysia, conferred on him a “Datukship” on the occasion of His Majesty’s’ 71st birthday. Datuk Vinod was 26 years old and one the youngest in the nations history to be so honoured.
The Harvard Business Review published a case study on Datuk Vinod, Petra and Green Rubber – thought to be one of the only times a Malaysian has had that privilege. The World Economic Forum named him in the top 3 of its 40 “New Asian Leaders” (NAL) and a Global Leader for Tomorrow (GLT). Grant Thornton named him the Malaysian Corporate Leader of the Year in August 2008.
He received the award from the then Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhiyuddin Yassin, and in December 2008, he received the prestigious Global Green Award from Global Green USA for Green Rubber. He was the youngest, only Asian, and third ever non-American, after President Mikhail Gorbachev and Giorgio Armani, to receive the award. He has received several other awards including: the Global Indian Award presented by the Minister for Overseas Indians in Delhi, Global Indian Origin Magazine’s 50 Most Influential Business Leaders of Indian Origin in the world, the Outstanding Global Entrepreneur by the SME Association, and The Societe Award from the Asia Pacific Brand Foundation, the Chambers of the GCC (Gulf Cooperative Council) presented him with a leadership award for Technology and Social Capitalism, the NRI Institute in India conferred on him the Pravasi Divas award, and the American Leadership Development Association and Leaders International named him the ‘ Global Visionary Leader 2015’, and in 2018 he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Capitalism, to name a few.
Datuk Vinod is also on the leadership council of The Climate Group. He also acted as the underwriter for the first ever Clinton Global Initiative Asia in Hong Kong, and hosted President Bill Clinton in Kuala Lumpur. He was the advisor to the Faculty of Business and Law for Multimedia University, Malaysia’s largest private university with over 20,000 students. Datuk Vinod received the Keys to the City of Armenia in Colombia for his help after the devastating landslides that killed thousands. In 1999, he also set up an orphanage in Colombia called the Petra-Valentina House. He funded in full the 2007 “Black Ball” in London hosted by his friend, singer/songwriter Alicia Keys to raise money for her charity “Keep a Child Alive.” Datuk Vinod is a great advocate for what he calls “Social Capitalism,” where business interests and societal concerns must work hand in hand.
Globally he is transforming the rubber industry with Green Rubber, which deals with one of the world’s environmental hazards - waste rubber/Tyres. With over 1.3 billion tyre discarded annually, Green Rubber is the sustainable answer. A recycled compound twhich has 70 to 80 % of the properties of virgin rubber compound at nearly half the price. After being named by Forbes as the 16th richest man in Malaysia, Datuk Vinod and his wife donated 60% of their entire ownership in the Petra group to their charitable foundations. He is currently preparing for the launch of his new integrated app that connects seemlessly the public, corporate society, and charities, social programmes and those in need. He calls the app Tara’s World, named after his youngest daughter, Tara. He is also the chairman of the Good Capitalism Forum Council, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council ASEAN Board and most recently was honoured by being invited to be a Trustee of the Windsor Benefit Trust. He is the first non-UK citizen or resident to be invited.
He has written several plays, a book of poetry, and screenplays. One of his plays, “In the Mind’s Eye,” was produced with success in the US, UK and Malaysia. Datuk Vinod also hosted Malaysia’s first English language talk show on television on Metrovision (now Channel 8).
He has also jointly won several New York Festival Awards for his cutting-edge advertising campaigns. In 2015 the film Datuk Vinod produced in India, Liars Dice, was the sole Indian nomination for Best Foreign Picture category at the Academy Awards (Oscars). His other productions include the award winning play he wrote called “In the Minds Eye”, and multiple award winning Asian American film called Hundred Percent filmed in Los Angeles.
In addition to playing golf, tennis and squash, he speaks 5 languages, has a black belt in judo and is an avid fan of Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, rugby and cricket. He has over 320 Disney ties. Datuk Vinod Sekhar is married to Datin Dr. Winy Sekhar; they have two daughters, Petra and Tara.Datuk Vinod Sekhar's LinkedIn Profile