Ravinder Kumar, the senior vice president for Bank of America in Queens, is a shining example of an immigrant success story. Although he has only been in the United States for 16 years, he has he made the best of his circumstances and invested his time into bettering his community and helping those in need
Kumar was born in India in 1973. He earned a degree in engineering in the late 1990s and made a living for himself in the field until 1997, when he decided to make a drastic career change.
“I got into finance,” Kumar said.
He said that his background in engineering had little to do with the financial world. But experts in the field thought otherwise.
“When I was interviewing at various places after getting my degree, I told this one interviewee, ‘Hey, look, I know nothing about finance.’ He simply asked me if I was good at math, to which I replied, ‘Yes, as an engineer, math is one of my strong suits.’ He told me that was all I needed to know,” Kumar said.
Kumar trained himself and made the switch to finance as a banker in Mumbai. Five years into his career in financing, Kumar made another transition. In 2002, he was engaged to his wife, who lived in the United States, and moved to Flushing, restarting his life from scratch. Kumar said that the move proved to be an “enriching” experience.
“I came with the same drive and passion many people in Mumbai had,” Kumar said, noting that his hometown was also where many aspiring Bollywood stars came to pursue their dreams. “I wanted to realize my dream. Me and my wife found an apartment in Flushing and began our new life here.”
Kumar said that being an immigrant in Flushing was inspiring. The Queens neighborhood showcased the diversity and possibilities of the city as a whole. The initial adjustment period that Kumar faced in America was expedited by fellow immigrants who helped him.
“Queens is a big part of it,” he said. “Without the people around me, I would have never even thought of achieving the professional success I have today.”
While working his way up the ladder at finance institutions, Kumar never lost sight of putting his community first, an important principle that he learned in his home country as a child.
“In my native language of Hindi, there is a word called ‘seva,’ which translates to ‘community service,’” he said. “Growing up in India, my parents instilled that passion in me to do seva for the community. I used to go to villages and make stoves of mud for poor people who did not have them.”
Kumar and his family participate in community food drives every month, preparing and packing lunch for the homeless.
“I am very proud of that,” he said. “It gives me a chance to help out the less fortunate in my community.”
Kumar also volunteers for the Boys Scouts of America, of which his son is a member. He said that many of the values that are taught to members keep him in line.
“When I go to Boy Scout meetings with my son, and go to events and camping, those things remind me and put me back on track,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing that keeps me focused on the betterment of my community.”
– Trone Dowd