Blindness Didn’t Blur His Vision for Success
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02 December 2010
By Anahita Mukherji
Breaking records is almost a way of life for 30–year–old Mumbai boyAshish Goyal. He was the first blind student to make it to Wharton Business School, Philadelphia, four years ago. If that isn’t enough, Ashish cleared his MBA with honours and went on to win the Joseph P Wharton award, given to one student every year who symbolizes Wharton’s way of life.
Ashish, who now lives in London, is the first blind trader at J P Morgan, and possibly in any bank anywhere in the world. His near–impossible feat has earned him the National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, 2010, an honour that he will receive at the hands of the President of India this week.
"I hope this award helps the world recognize that, given the right set of opportunities and encouragement, people like me can live out their ambitions and lead ordinary lives,” says Ashish. In his case, he’s achieved more than most ordinary people do.
Ashish, who was born with perfect vision, suffers from a disease called retinitis pigmentosa, which robbed him of his sight after the age of 15. He did not lose his vision at one go, but gradually went blind over a period of three years. By18, he couldn’t see anything at all.
"Apart from a few technological enhancements at his desk, Ashish is totally independent in all aspects of his job and does not require, nor has he requested, any extra support," says Ray Eyles, who runs J P Morgan's commodities business in Asia, and was Ashish’s first manager. Eyles is struck by Ashish’s modesty, despite the magnitude of his accomplishment in dealing with his disability. "He is an inspiration to all employees at the bank," says Eyles.
Ashish’s pursuits in life aren’t purely academic. He’s a theatre enthusiast who loves travelling and music. He also does his best to catch the latest film releases, and is quick to critique both Hollywood and Hindi cinema. His infectious enthusiasm and zest for life has ensured that he is liked wherever he goes.
"It’s a real pleasure to have him around. He’s always got a smile on his face, and is forever surrounded by people," says Brian Marchiony, head of communications for Europe at J P Morgan.
Ironically, while Ashish will return to India to receive his award, this country has been a trifle hostile to him during his first attempt at entering the job market. He had a tough time getting a job in India, despite standing second in his batch while doing an MBA at NMIMS. While he was shortlisted for most jobs based on his high scores, nearly all the companies he applied to rejected him when they found he was blind. ING Vysya was the only bank in India to gave him a job.