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Vikramaditya Yadav

Professor, University of British Columbia, Age 37

Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?

Coffee… and unsolved problems! 

What is your guilty pleasure?

Few things are as satisfying as spending countless hours unearthing random tidbits of information on Wikipedia. 

What is the best book you would recommend?

Philip Ball’s Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another will change the way you look at the world.

Now that you are (or are close to) entering your forties, what goals have you set for yourself?

Establishing a technology incubator that is singularly focused on decarbonization and environmental stewardship. I am also keen to contribute to the fight against homelessness and addiction in Vancouver. 

What was your childhood career dream?

When I was in the Grade 9, I authored an essay about my career aspirations that was published in the local newspaper. I have a framed copy of the essay in my house. I aspired — and still aspire — to be the chief scientific advisor to the prime minister.  

Name your happiest place.

When I am working in my front yard with my two kids. Gardening is joyful. Gardening with great company is blissful! 

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

I opted to extend my studentship and defer commencing my faculty job in favour of a postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard. Best decision ever!

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Success is not a product of moments, but is the consequence of constant effort. It requires a lot of hard work, which requires stamina and good health. 

What is your best habit?

I am an eternal optimist who believes that anything is possible if one is patient, disciplined, focused and consistent. I am also infinitely curious about the world. These maxims dictate my work philosophy, which is my best habit. 

Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.

I have played field hockey at the highest level. Growing up in India, I represented my home city and was in consideration to play for the junior national team. 

Best piece of advice ever received?

Everyone struggles to attain work-life balance. When I asked my father for advice, he said, “Once you leave an organization, sooner or later, you are lost to history. Your children will remember all the moments you were not there for them.” 

Biggest learning (about life or business) during the pandemic?

We think too highly of our careers and our time, and that we are horrible time managers.  

What career highlight are you most proud of?

The incredible story of my very first startup company, Metabolik Technologies.