A League of His Own
Work like you will live forever and live like you will die tomorrow” is a life mandate for Pawan Kumar Patodia, CMD and CEO of Pulkit Veneer Mills Private Limited, and Chairman and co-owner of Kolkata Thunderbolts, the champions at Prime Volleyball League 2022 recently concluded at Hyderabad. For him, hardwork has no substitute and it far surpasses the potential of talent. And it is this belief that led the young boy from Dibrugarh to be not only among the top industrialists in Kolkata but also one of the most well-known faces in the city.
Tapping unexplored territories
A successful chartered accountant by profession, Pawan Kumar Patodia’s passion for sports was always deep within. So when he decided to own a sports team, it was a business decision fuelled by an inherent passion for sports that he always had. “Kolkata Thunderbolts was initially the product of my business endeavours, and the constant urge to expand my verticals. I used to play volleyball during my childhood, but lost touch over time due to the professional and business commitment. This franchise came across as a medium to revive that feeling,” affirms Patodia. “I have always been passionate about sports as I feel that sport has this rare ability of bridging gaps and bringing people together. Kolkata Thunderbolts is a step in that direction—to make a difference in the Indian sport ecosystem. It may seem like an overnight decision, but a lot of planning and measure went into owning a sports franchise, as it was always on our cards.”
There were questions asked like why instead of more popular sports like football, he decided to venture into the unknown terrain of volleyball. The astute businessmen in him understood the potential of venturing into the blue ocean. “Like everything else, this is also a risk, for my task is not only to establish Kolkata Thunderbolts but also volleyball as a popular and branded game in the country. The second most played sport in the world, and the third most popular sport in the country—the recognition for volleyball has long been due. When I came to know about the Prime Volleyball League, I had this feeling inside that, “Look, here’s your chance to restore and revive the sport, and give players a platform as well as the glory they deserve,” he states.
Pawan Kumar Patodia, co-owner, Kolkata Thunderbolts
Building a sports culture
The journey so far has only been one of highs for Pawan Kumar Patodia and he has enjoyed each and every moment. Not only do the players of his team adore him but he has become a mentor to the teams across the nation and one of the most popular faces on television when the game is on—thanks to his flamboyant style. “The journey has been beautiful, as we have an extended family of lakhs of people who love us to the core. Right from the auction to the trophy, everything has been surreal,” he mentions.
His recipe for success is simple. “I live, work and think like today is everything I have got. I have stood with my beliefs, worked hard and with divine grace everything else has fallen in place.” His family, especially his wife, is his biggest strength, and they have stood behind him through his highs and lows. “There are no lows, when you are determined to work for a cause. Either, it’s a high or a lesson—because lows teach you way more than the right things do,” adds Patodia. His kids, both of whom are from premier business schools, are what he would have aspired to be had he been their age, and every day he wants to set an example for them by his own work.
Living life to the fullest
A matter of values
Being loyal and integral to his community and family is one of the core Marwari values and Patodia is no exception. He clearl
nowledges that without the relentless support of his family, this vision wouldn’t have manifested into what it is today. “Our culture, our values define us, and being a Marwari is more about being attached to the grassroots, to your values—vision and mindset. I identify myself as a proud Indian and a proud Marwari not because of my ethnicity, but for what we stand for. Marwaris are known for their humility, bravery and valour—things that I have always stood for,” he announces.
Speaking about the way forward, Patodia says that he aspires to use his core potential of networking, communication and partnerships to build the right kind of infrastructure for volleyball. “We are closely working with some of the leading bodies across Assam, Bengal and Jharkhand to revolutionise the game and how it is played.” About his achievements he shares that his company is taking major leaps with Mongia National Volleyball Academy (MNVA) to open up a volleyball academy in Jharkhand and a similar venture in north east is also in process. “I am not a big fan of measuring things on the basis of achievements that are always a by-product of the process. You take care of the process, and everything else will automatically take care of itself,” he sums up.
With a pursuit of living life to the fullest, a passionate Patodia has been inspiring others with his energy by coming back to physical fitness and doing physical training. A mentor to several start-ups, while being an angel investor in a few, he is leading the next wave of sports entrepreneurship in India.