INTERVIEW | Reading Vedas with mom fuelled my aerospace dream, got me job at Boeing at 28: General Atomics CEO

In this exclusive interview, General Atomics Global Corporation CEO Dr Vivek Lall opens up about his love for Hinduism and the Vedas

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA (US) | Updated: 18 July, 2023 4:52 pm IST

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA (US): In a captivating interview with The New Indian Executive Editor Rohan DuaDr. Vivek Lall, the CEO of General Atomics Global Corporation, shared his remarkable journey from being born in Indonesia to becoming a leading figure in the aerospace and defense industry. With a background in science and engineering, Dr. Lall expressed his pride in contributing to the US-India partnership, drawing from his experiences in various parts of the world and a passion for airplanes that shaped his career. Edited excerpts:

Rohan Dua: You make us proud of what Indian scientists can achieve abroad. How satisfied do you feel to have been born to Indian parents and settled here in the US?

VL: It is a privilege, having spent most of my career in science and engineering, and now contributing to the US-India story. I was born in Indonesia and traveled to different parts of the world, including Vienna, Austria, where I did my primary education. While traveling, I picked up five languages along the way.

RD: Your father was a career diplomat. How did you become a scientist?

VL: During my time in Vienna, Austria, I developed a passion for planes and aerospace. This passion drove me towards science and mathematics. I pursued aerospace engineering and eventually became a trained private pilot.

RD: How did your career in aerospace start?

VL: I did my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in Canada because my parents were posted there. During my final year, I encountered a professor working on airplane performance, and that excited me given my interest in planes. I did my thesis on airplane performance, followed by a master’s in aeronautical engineering in Florida. My pursuit of knowledge led me to a PhD in aerospace engineering from Kansas, which laid the foundation for my association with NASA.

RD: During your impressionable years, when you had to stay alone due to your parents’ field postings, how did you stay focused and avoid getting carried away with distractions like nightlife and drugs?

VL: My relentless pursuit of knowledge and the opportunity to gain that knowledge kept me focused. Having lived in different parts of the world, I witnessed disparity and realized the opportunities that many brilliant people don’t get. I considered myself blessed to be able to pursue my passion.

RD: Did you have any mentors or gurus along the way?

VL: Absolutely, mentors played a crucial role in my journey. I was close to many professors and teachers who inspired and groomed me, igniting my passion for various subjects.

RD: Were there any particular movies or books that shaped your career?

VL: I read both non-fiction and fiction. “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” and “The World Is Flat” were influential books that stood out for me.

RD: Did spiritual gurus or your mother’s lessons in religion influence you?

VL: Certainly, moving from country to country, my home became a hub of learning about India and its culture. I extensively read Hinduism and the Vedas, which were imparted to me by my mother. It was fascinating to see how some technologies align with the Vedas.

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