Interview : Indy Hothi, Economist & Humanitarian
Indy Hothi is an Economist for EY and provides strategic, economic and policy advice to Government and private sector clients. He has a huge passion for making the world a better place. He’s been involved with many charitable projects and initiatives including becoming a trustee for international NGO, Khalsa Aid, which provides humanitarian aid in disaster zones and war zones. He has a keen interest in the Arts and recently co-founded a social business, ‘Hothi & Othi’.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
Energetic, fun, honest, introvert and a nerd.
Were you encouraged to follow your dreams by your family when you were growing up?
I was always encouraged by my family to follow my dreams (up to a certain extent!). When I was younger I always wanted to be involved with video games in some way, shape or form due to the huge influence they had on my childhood.
Has your career been plain sailing?
As a 27 year old, I’m relatively early into my career (five years). There have definitely been some challenges along the way – I always try to tackle them logically and with a level head. During tough times I always try to remember how hard my parents and grandparents worked and the sacrifices they made for me to be where I am, it always gives me the energy to persevere.
Did you have any role models growing up?
As a young kid I never really had any significant role models aside from my parents. I’d be a fan of sports personalities or movie stars but never saw them as role models. I think it was because I never came across anyone I could truly connect with in some way. I definitely don’t see myself as a role model and in some instances when I’ve been referred to as one I find it very strange and my school friends certainly find it amusing. It’s really flattering to be considered one and at times it makes me feel like I have an additional level of responsibility to ensure I uphold the values of a good role model.
“Art is a form of human expression and it can
transcend so many barriers.”
As a Sikh, do you think there are enough visible Sikh role models in the media, in business and in the community?
There is definitely a lack of Sikh role models right across the spectrum. The fact that the Sikh community jumps for joy when there is a visible Sikh in any public facing position to me highlights the lack of, and more importantly the desire for strong role models. There are however, some absolutely fantastic individuals doing great work such as Ravi Singh, the CEO of Khalsa Aid, and Peter Virdee who has built a £4bn property empire around the world. I feel it’s a case of getting more mainstream recognition of individuals such as these.
You do an astounding amount of charity work. What motivates you to get involved and support these amazing causes?
It’s definitely a drop in the ocean compared to what others do! I’ve been able to travel the world and support humanitarian projects in countries such as Haiti, Bosnia and more recently the refugee crisis has taken me to Serbia, Croatia and the Middle East.
Charity work is something that has always been instilled in me by my parents and grandmother from the Sikh concept of ‘Sewa’, which means selfless giving. After I graduated from university I spent some time travelling across Asia and South America. The level of inequality really hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt it was so unfair that literally one side of a street people would be living in luxury and on the other in extreme poverty.
As I began my professional career as a consultant, I realised one of my most valuable commodities was my time and skills. As a result I would provide pro-bono advice to charities and this is how I got involved with international humanitarian projects with UK-based charity Khalsa Aid which is founded on the Sikh principle of ‘Recognising the whole human race as one’. The charity provides humanitarian aid in disaster zones and civil conflict zones and is led by a charismatic CEO, passionate team and wonderful supporters all around the globe. It’s been an absolute honour to work beside them. You can find out more about them at www.khalsaaid.org
Have there been any moments that have been hard for you deal with during this work?
I’ve had some extremely difficult moments and also met some truly wonderful people, both of which will stay with me for a lifetime. Without going into specifics, one thing that always amazes me is the resiliency of us as humans. I’ve been in a number of situations where people have literally lost everything around them, their possessions, loved ones and home – but still find a way to push on.
“It may seem silly to some, but being able to provide for my parents who have sacrificed so much over the years for me to never go without and get an education is really satisfying.”
What are you most proud of professionally and personally?
Personally, one of my biggest achievements was graduating from university and securing a job to be able to support my family with day-to-day costs of living. It may seem silly to some, but being able to provide for my parents who have sacrificed so much over the years for me to never go without and get an education is really satisfying.
Professionally, it was passing my chartered accountancy exams with ICAS. They were a tough slog but I feel they really gave me a strong business grounding that will last a lifetime.
If you could be teleported back to spend ten minutes with your 16 year-old self, are there any words of advice you ’d give yourself?
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams! There will be doubters all around you but don’t let that stop you from doing what you want.
What’s your most cherished possession?
Currently my car, a Nissan 350z. It’s the first car I bought myself and brings me great joy when I drive it at the weekend.
What’s your favourite place to relax and switch-off?
Definitely the gym. It’s a place to let out my frustrations for the day and to take my mind off things.
We’d love to know more about Hothi & Othi
Hothi & Othi is a social enterprise which supports emerging artists around the world by providing a platform to showcase their work in addition to providing pro-bono consulting. It’s an initiative I co-founded with a very close friend and business partner, Manraj Othi. It really came out from a passion of supporting people and being a patron of the arts. Both myself and Manraj had been supporting artists in London through our experience of working with galleries and we thought to ourselves “Hey, let’s make this official and really put a strong vision behind it to build a family of artists.”
We’re in our first year of operations and have already hosted some amazing exhibitions, including one with the Mayor of London. We’ve got some exciting plans but I can’t divulge them right now, you’ll have to keep an eye on the website – www.hothi-othi.com.
Is there a connection between art and faith?
Most definitely. Art is a form of human expression and it can transcend so many barriers. At a simplistic level, we as humans are visual and every single faith has a visual representation of its belief, which is a form of art in itself.
For Sikhism, art is an intrinsic part of the faith, from the Sikh scriptures being written to be sung, to a long history of poets from all faiths and backgrounds being able to recite and share poetry at Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple).
Indy was shortlisted for the ‘Network Leader of the Year’ and ‘Inspiring Member of the Year’ awards at our 2015 Inclusive Networks Awards. He’s also a judge for our #ThisIsMe Awesome100 Awards.