Leader of Substance
A web search for Dr. Sonya Suri would comprehensively list all her achievements – Doctorate in Management Studies, Times Business Award 2022 Winner, Director – Bharat Re-Insurance Brokers, Financial Consultant, Marketing Veteran, Business Evangelist, Entrepreneur, National President, WICCI (NBFC-Council), and many others. Yet, the secret Sonya keeps closest to her heart is the tremendous work she undertakes as a philanthropist and a social worker. “For the longest time, nobody knew I was involved in social service. I believe when you do good with your right hand, your left hand should not know,” opines Sonya with integrity.
Respect for nation and commitment to humans, were values she was brought up with, thanks to an Army background. Her father, Retd. Major General A.L. Suri, had fought in the 1965 and 1971 war. On her part, Sonya completed her Economics Honours from the prestigious Lady Shriram College in Delhi University and Doctorate in Finance and Management from the National Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.
In her three decades in the world of Finance, Sonya rose from a Junior Executive in a finance company to the position of a Director. In 1995, she took the plunge and turned Entrepreneur. Along with her father, she co-founded Suri Capital and Leasing Ltd. to provide financial consultancy to corporates and help them with funding through banks and venture capital companies. In time, it became one of the only NBFCs to get a debt free certificate from the Reserve Bank of India.
The Suris sold the company as Sonya began her foray into insurance. In 2004, Sonya was appointed the Director at one of the largest Indian General Insurance and Re-Insurance Broking Company – Bharat Re-Insurance Brokers Pvt. Ltd., and continues to excel in that role.
She remains an intrinsic part of Suri Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., which serves as a consultant to Shriram Transport Finance Co. Ltd. and Shriram City Union Pvt. Ltd. Sonya is also associated with construction business under Suri Enterprises wherein she is responsible for the accomplishment of turnkey projects related to prestigious residential properties in and around Delhi.
In Sonya’s words, she has built and run her professional life around the core principle of ‘Leading and influencing by Example’. This holds true for her personal life as well. It all started 25 years ago, when Sonya started going to a Sai Baba temple. It pained her to see lots of people suffering from leprosy standing outside, isolated and shunned by society. Thus began Sonya’s lifelong journey to help these people with few essentials and food items.
Soon, she started visiting the colony where people suffered from leprosy resided regularly, and one good deed led her to another. She started a homeopathic dispensary at an Arya Samaj temple near her house, which sees 50-60 people every day. She also began work with Lajpat Bhawan, and was assigned to look after one of their schools in Harijan Basti, Lodhi Road, New Delhi. The school had kids aged 3-5. Sonya’s team of two teachers and two helpers trained and educated the kids to get into good schools. They also provided the children with milk in the morning and lunch before leaving.
“It was the Almighty and the Universe. I truly believe that whatever is thrown at the Universe, comes back. And thus, I was pleasantly shocked when I was awarded the Global Human Rights Protection Award in 2019. It humbled me and helped me move further. I told myself I cannot stop here,” exclaims Sonya.
This was the first instance of Sonya’s humanitarian work coming out in the public realm. Once Covid hit, it became all encompassing. Fond of cooking, Sonya started baking cookies, cakes and rusks under the brand name of La Bingo’s. For every one kg of chocolates sold, a child was being fed for two days through the United Nations World Food Program.
“The best part came when we began contributing directly. I’m so thankful to my parents who for six months helped me fill the boot of my car with food items and drive to distribute them in the leper colony and nearby slum areas during the lockdown,” recalls Sonya.
Following this feat, many laurels came Sonya’s way. She won the Times Business Award 2022 from the Times Group; the 2021 Global Choice Awards; IAF Atmanirbhar Bharat Award 2021; and ‘Achievement and Contribution in Nation Building’ Indian Achievers Award in 2020.
Leaving us with an important message, the inspiring Sonya says, “Nothing is more important than being humane and kind. All of us may not be able to contribute equally in terms of money and time. But all we have to do is manifest good thoughts about others. Remember, when your good thoughts go out in the Universe, it comes back to you in abundance.”