From a Planter to a Turnaround Specialist

Kapil Maini, General Manager of Darwish AST Services, talks about his personal and professional growth to a Turnaround Specialist, as he charts his endearing bond with Oman, which he calls home

It was to be a two-year stint; that was in November 2001. But sometime during those two years, Oman became such an important part of his life that Kapil Maini, General Manager of Darwish AST Services, decided to settle down for a long stint with his wife Bhavna and their two daughters.

“It has been a wonderful stint of 16 long years,” states Maini, as he reflects on his personal and professional growth in the country. With a strong support system of friends and the instinctive hospitality and geniality of locals, it was an easy deal, he maintains. Over the years, this bond with the country has strengthened to such an extent that the family pines to return back to Oman, even when vacationing in their hometown in India.

Kapil Maini - From a Planter to a Turnaround SpecialistA turnaround specialist by profession, he has been managing Darwish AST Services, which is primarily into interior fit-outs and joinery projects, for the past 4 years. Having initiated a career as a planter before branching into entrepreneurship, Maini has learnt to train his fingers on the pulse of the business industry. However, he does acknowledge that there are challenges on the way. But he is optimistic; for, as he points out, things have looked up in the last couple of months.

He has found his bearing in the complex world of business with his strengths in strategic planning, profit centre management and project management. These were the strengths he employed in turning around the fortunes of a company that was on the verge of shutting down, during his initial stint in Oman, in 2001. Interestingly though, it wasn’t his skill in turnaround management that set him in the complex world of careers…

Recalling his early years, he says, “I have been an entrepreneur for a while, but my career started quite differently…it was nowhere close to the projects that I handle now.” He started as a planter in Assam, India, for Tata Tea, before realising that it was designing that fascinated him. He used local labour to design and craft outdoor furniture with drift wood… dead tree trunks, etc.  He soon shifted his career track and learnt that the experience gained as a planter, in a completely labour-intensive sector, did have a bearing on his professional life as a turnaround specialist. “There were times when I managed about 5,000 people on a daily basis; it gave me the actual labour management experience,” he states, pointing out that being away from his home in Delhi, at the young age of 21, also inculcated several other values that moulded his later life, both personally as well as professionally.

He started his own business in India after he married Bhavna in 1990. Together they developed the business, before pressing the brakes for a brief hiatus to Oman. What transpired after that is history; but what has been a fixture for more than a decade and a half since the Mainis made home in Oman is their ever-growing bond with the country. Bhavna credits Oman for providing avenues for charity and nurturing her passion for reading and painting, while helping them follow Art of Living.

Life has indeed been gratifying, as the elder daughter, who married recently, is based in Netherlands, working as an auditor with PWC, while the younger one is into Fashion Communication and is a specialist in Digital Marketing in Delhi. They strongly believe that Oman is one of the best places in the world to build a positive family life, as well as to foster personal growth.

Up Close & Personal with Kapil Maini

The home I grew up in…..

My father was posted in various cities across India, but the most special place for me was always my grandparents’ home in New Delhi, where we would spend our summer holidays, each year, with the extended family.

When I was a child I wanted to….

Be a fighter Pilot. I had a fetish for jet planes. Every toy I possessed was some model of an aeroplane. I probably had the largest collection among my peer group.

The moment that changed me forever…

When I took up my first job as a planter with Tata Tea, in the tea gardens of Assam. The time spent in the wilderness and lonely areas made me value my family more and made me emotionally strong.

My greatest inspiration….

My dad who gave his 100 percent to whatever he did. As a Chief Architect with the Ministry of Defence, India, he handled strategic and important projects. I imbibed his integrity, commitment and passion for work.

My hero….

James Bond 007… Though fictional, I love his lifestyle.

If I could change one thing about myself….

I would not to be a perfectionist. It leads to similar expectations from others and when they fall short, it turns to frustration.

I dream of….Kapil Maini - From a Planter to a Turnaround Specialist

Owning a farmland in the hills and settling down there for the rest of my life.

What I see when I look in the mirror…

I see a man in a hurry…as there are miles to go before I sleep.

It’s not fashionable but I like…

To spend most of my free time with my family.

My greatest regret…

No regrets, as I always live in the present; no sense in holding on to the past.

You may not know it, but I’m no good at…

Blowing my own trumpet…humility is an asset.

You may not know it, but I’m very good at…

Looking at the positive side of people and their hidden talents.

If I have time to myself…

I love to cook and try out new recipes.

My house is…

A place where I want to be myself.

My favourite haunt / holiday destination…Kapil Maini - From a Planter to a Turnaround Specialist


My favourite weekend spot in Oman…

Anywhere along the beachside where it’s calm, serene and I can sit and marvel nature’s beauty.

I will not leave my house without….

Counting my blessings….

Five things I like about Oman…

Its sheer natural beauty, tranquillity, cleanliness, warmth of the people, and food.

A book that changed me…

Iacocca: An Autobiography.

On top of my wish/bucket list is….

To do voluntary charity work and make a difference in somebody’s life.

My success mantra is…

Live and let live.

In 10 years time, I hope to be…

An advisor to share my life experiences, abilities and other skills to benefit society at large.

Also check out Oman’s Fitness Guru.


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