Under The Spotlight-Sedhumadhavan Menon

The Palm Leaf begins a series of interviews – under the spotlight – with members of KALA to get to know them better. Here, as the first in the series, Viswasmitran turns the spotlight on Sethumadhavan Menon who recently stepped down from the treasurership (1996-1999) of KALA. Sethu grew up near Palakkad and graduated in mechanical engineering from Trichur. He has been with a well – known engineering firm for many years and travels widely on business. He lives in Maidenbower, Sussex with his wife Indira. They have two daughters, Sheila and Anita.

Many of us know you as the hard–working treasurer of KALA. We also know that you have become a “regular” on certain long haul flights. Could you tell us what you do in these exotic places you fly in to?

Certainly not the things I would have really liked to do! I am a specialist in the design of large boiler plants for power generation. I go to China, Japan and USA to take part in project discussions and design review meetings with clients and consortium partners, to do presentation to clients and also to support our subsidiary in India in negotiations with clients. I am also involved in the recruitment and training of engineers for our set–up in Chennai and in assisting the transfer of technology to the Indian subsidiary.

Having seen these places, where would you like to live and enjoy life, if you had no other commitments that bind you to a particular place?

I was born and brought up at Tattamangalam near Palakkad. Although I have been in the UK for the last 33 years, it is hard to forget the first 21 years of my life in kerala. Most certainly, I like to spend a major part of my retirement life there, preferably in Calicut or Ernakulam. The various festivities and cultural events in Kerala are, no doubt, going to be more appealing to me now than in my early years there. Thanks to the western influence in this respect.

What are your favourite food and drink? What is the most exotic/ memorable food you have had?

I enjoy both eastern and western food, quite fussy about the tastes though. Although I can name a number of dishes as my favourite food, the most I like is the south Indian vegetarian meal with a hot mango pickle served on a plantain leaf. As far as drink is concerned, certainly a strong cup of Indian tea, especially with a couple of “Paper Roasts.”

The most exotic and memorable food I have been served is Fried Silk Worm that was a delicacy at a banquet given to us in China by one of our clients. Did I eat it? I will leave you to guess.

What is your favourite pastime?

It used to be playing Bridge. Unfortunately, I haven’t had many opportunities lately to pursue that interest. I hope to take it up again one day in the future.

What was the most enjoyable part of being KALA’s treasurer? And the least enjoyable?

I enjoyed working with the team. Besides, our determination to project KALA in a major way right from the start required substantial income, much more than the income from the membership fees; finding ways and means of raising the additional income within certain constraints was quite challenging. However, collection of money from members was not a pleasant experience.

You were quite meticulous in controlling costs. For example, you never allowed the printing of many complimentary copies of the Palm Leaf. Did you have to be that strict?

Perhaps not, but others like you have their own priorities and could ask similar questions. I believe that for effective control of expenditure, a treasurer will have to draw the line somewhere and stick to it consistently, especially when there is only some loose change justify in the kitty.

What advice would you give to your successor?

I do not believe my successor would need any advice from me. However, just to respond to your question, I should say that effective control of expenditure and ensuring a positive cash balance are essential to KALA’s success. This obviously requires timely forecasts, proper budgeting and finding appropriate measures to raise income.

What message do you have for the members of KALA?

KALA is, no doubt, unique in many ways when compared with other similar associations. Thanks to the predident Dr. Sukumaran Nair for all his initiative and enthusiasm without which KALA would not have gained recognition in a span of just over two years. Now it is upto all its members to put in their earnest efforts to fulfill Sukumaran's vision of turning KALA into an organisation recognised by Malayalees all over the world.

Back >>