When I pondered whether or not to take the plunge and launch Momentum Education full-time, I called one person: Somir Paul. Somir and I had known each other for five years, and he had become a mentor and life coach for me. He said he was in, and I knew we were ready to get to work. 9 months later, Somir is Momentum Education’s Board Chairman, and we sat down (virtually of course) to talk about his perspective on the organization.
Raj: “Somir, let me start by asking you about your background and life journey.”
Somir: “Well, I grew up in India and came to the United States for graduate school. I started in Pennsylvania and then moved down to Texas. I worked as a Business Consultant focusing on Marketing and Management. After doing that for a few years, I become an entrepreneur and have never looked back since.”
Raj: “That’s incredible; you are living the American Dream. What inspired you to become passionate about education.”
Somir: “I think it all comes back to my family and my own life story which was made possible by education. Education was always an important part of my life, and the belief in the power of education was instilled in me, from an early age. Specifically, I fundamentally believe that if we support students we can create multi-generational opportunity and success for students and their families.”
Raj: “I could not agree more. Why did you decide to get involved with Momentum Education.”
Somir: “Well, Raj, I initially got involved in One Jump [one of the two organizations that merged to create Momentum Education] because although I had been involved in educational causes both here in Texas and back home in India, I was excited at the possibility to help a non-profit startup. I felt that I had learned some great lessons from previous Board experience, but the opportunity to work with an organization from the ground up excited me. Then, when you approached me about merging One Jump and SWAG To College to form Momentum Education, I was thrilled at the opportunity to put students first to expand our impact.”
Raj: “Yes, I remember that call very well, when I shared the plans to combine both entities, and I knew from your excitement that this would be a great experience.”
Somir: “It certainly has been; and in just 9 months, I have been so proud of our team in impacting so many students.”
Raj: “Yes, it has been quite a ride, but we are just getting started. Anyhow, let me end with what do you see as your role as Board Chairman?”
Somir: “I think beyond the traditional governance pieces, which are — of course — critical. My job is to work with you, Raj as the Executive Director, to build a clear strategy with strong values and sustainable foundation. I know we all think a lot about strategy and culture and ensuring we get those right. I also think long and hard about how we ensure students will always remain first. Finally, though, and perhaps most importantly, I view my role as a coaching role wherein I use my experience and the mistakes I have made to help guide you and team, because I know that stronger our team, the better we can serve our students.”
Thank you, Somir, for everything you are doing to help this organization grow and reach our goals of supporting students to and through post-secondary education and into the workforce.
— Raj Salhotra (Executive Director of Momentum Education — Interviewing Somir Paul, Momentum Education Board Chairman