Board Member, Business Consultant, Adventurer
This profile was originally published in the June/Summer 2014 issue of CPABC in Focus magazine.
Travel captured Dru Narwani’s imagination from a young age, and his adventurous nature has led him on many exciting journeys—from hitchhiking through the Middle East (what better way to get from India to Europe?) to working all over the world.
“I didn’t deliberately seek out international postings,” Dru says, “but I did eagerly welcome opportunities as they presented themselves!”
Originally based in Toronto, Dru began his career with CIBC, where he worked for five years before joining Barclays Bank. This move proved instrumental to the advancement of his international career, as Barclays eventually promoted him to its Wall Street office in New York, and then to its financial headquarters in Poole, England. While still in England, Dru left Barclays to accept a position with Standard Chartered Bank. Within a year, he was working at its office in Mumbai, India. Another exciting transfer followed—this time to Bangkok, where Dru became CEO of Standard’s Thai operations.
As if realizing his dreams of seeing the world weren’t enough—along the way, he also became a pilot.
“Initially, there was simply a childhood sense of wonder of what it would be like to fly a plane,” he recalls, “but my decision to actually become a pilot was more by chance. While living in Toronto, I stumbled on a Globe & Mail article about flying schools in the area. The next weekend, I took my first flight at the Markham airstrip.”
Just one year later, with pilot’s licence in hand, Dru purchased his first four-seat Cessna 172. Since then, he has flown all over the world—in North and Central America, Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and Australia.
“My flights have ranged from the magical and deeply satisfying to the dangerous and hair-raising,” says Dru. “Some particularly adventuresome flights included flying into airstrips in Myanmar and Laos where no other Cessna had been before—let alone a foreign-registered one.”
One flight in particular stands out in Dru’s memory: his first North Atlantic crossing.
“When Barclays moved me and my family to England, I chose to fly myself late in the fall, taking a route from Iqaluit to Bournemouth,” he recounts. “My flight plan took me via Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland, all of which are treacherous that time of year. The safer alternative, advised by many, was to hire a commercial pilot to transport the plane for me, but somehow it didn’t seem right to pay someone else to have all of the fun!”
Dru’s extensive work and flight experience overseas have provided him with a unique perspective on the challenges of working and travelling internationally.
“The multi-cultural aspect is the most challenging,” he says. “Though many executives speak the same international language, their beliefs and values can be radically different. Fortunately, most people throughout the world have similar aspirations, motivations, and intentions. They may express them differently, but once recognized, the strategies to create greater effectiveness and harmony can easily be put in place.”
Now semi-retired, Dru calls Sidney, BC home. He is a board director and business consultant for several BC companies, while also volunteering as an executive mentor for MBA students at the University of Victoria. And the travel hasn’t stopped. Always looking to the horizon, Dru has his sights set on South America next. He and his wife Ulrike are planning to fly there in their upgraded six-seat Cessna 210.