HBS Exceptional Athlete Awards: Q&A with Parth Jindal

Harbus Logo[stag_dropcap font_size=”50px” style=”normal”]L[/stag_dropcap]ast week, Delia Zanoschi and Tum Preugpaibul (RCs) announced the winners of the inaugural HBS exceptional athlete awards, an initiative they started this year to recognize the best athletes at HBS. This week, Delia and Tum interviewed HBS Class of 2016 squash winner Parth Jindal in a compelling Q&A.

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How did you start?

RC Parth Jindal, Section G
RC Parth Jindal, Section G

My family manufactures steel in India. At one of our factories that is located outside of Mumbai my father built a squash court. As the area was remote, he built the court in order to have something to do in the evenings. This was also a great way to meet his employees outside the work environment. He hired a coach and squash became very popular among children there. We then built another 3 squash courts and it became the Jindal Squash Academy (JSA). Over the years JSA has produced 5 junior national champions at squash. This academy continues to be one of the best junior squash academies in the country and has over 120 children training daily.

My dad always encouraged me to play. Sport is a great enabler. When you are on the court, the only thing that matters is how you play squash and not your economic background.

PARTH 2One of your most memorable moments? 

When I was 12, I was at the U13 National championships quarter-finals in Chennai. I was playing with another JSA player. The coach had told the player to lose to me as I was Mr. Jindal’s son. This guy was much better than me so I knew something was not right. I went up to the coach and asked him to make him play his best. In the 5th game, he played seriously and he beat me. I lost the competition and I started crying. I broke my racquet and refused to shake the other kid’s hand at the end of the game. Seeing this, my father asked me to stop playing until I realized what I had done wrong. Being a child, I quit squash for 4 years. Now, every time I am playing any sport, I always remember that what matters is not whether you win or lose but playing the game in the right spirit.

What is the greatest advice you received?

The greatest advice I received was when I moved back to India from Japan and started working for my family business. My dad used to talk to me about what I was doing and how I’m doing: “Parth, what is your vision and what do you want to achieve in your life?” So I told him “Dad, I want to make this company a little bit more profitable and professional” – I was playing it safe. He told me that I should dream big and aim for the stars. “If you fail, you fail. You should make sure that you are always reaching for something you can’t reach. What is the big picture and what do you want to do.” The best advice I would give to someone is to dream big and to follow your dream.

Looking back, what did playing sports teach you?

It taught me how to be tough. The biggest lesson is there’s no substitute for hard work. When I didn’t do well in math, I would practice 100 problems and I will get it. It’s the same in squash: in order to get good, you need to practice long.

It is also equally important to listen to others: coaches, friends. It’s like in business: if you think you know it all, I don’t think you will succeed. If you listen to others, you have a greater chance to succeed.

Tell me something you believe in.

I believe in karma. What goes around comes around. If you’re good to the world, the world will be good to you.

What are you doing to be a better person?

Identifying where I think I can help. Over the last six months, I have identified two areas. Namely, empowering women in rural India by building toilets and reducing malnourishment in India. This summer, I would be working to develop one of these initiatives. Further I have managed to raise awareness for the relief efforts in Nepal and have raised a substantial amount of money that has been donated to Oxfam India a NGO.

What is most important in friendship?

Loyalty and honesty.

What is most important in love?

Compromise, compassion, understanding and freedom.

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