Arjun Choudhary, vice president of Onicx Group, a Tampa-based property development firm, says the COVID-19 crisis has been positive in that it spurred people and businesses to change the way they think about society and commerce.
“COVID-19 has done a lot of good — not in the economic sense; it’s obviously hurting a lot of people — because it’s making people think more local,” he says. “You can be part of a global business, but it’s really the local community that impacts your life.”
Choudhary was born in Kolkata, India, and lived and worked in New Delhi and London before coming to the U.S. in his late 20s to study architecture at the University of Florida. Despite the challenges Florida and the rest of the country are enduring because of the coronavirus pandemic, he says the U.S. hasn’t lost its status as the promised land for immigrants who seek a better life.
“It’s the land of opportunity,” Choudhary says. “Land of the free, home of the brave. I fully believed that, from a distance, and having been here for the past four years, it makes total sense. It’s the best place in the world to do business.”
Choudhary's sunny disposition extends to his line of work. He says nothing gives him greater satisfaction than creating value by guiding a real estate project from start to finish.
“Every time you develop a project, you’re creating a legacy which will outlive you,” he says. “Every decision of ours has an impact. … We’re building wealth and opportunity for not only the local community but businesses.”
Choudhary's rather unusual hypothetical side hustle, standup comedy, is known for cynicism and sarcasm. But he prefers a different approach, saying he enjoys the crowd-pleasing comedic stylings of Charlie Chaplin and wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as well as the animated antics of "Tom & Jerry."
“I like a lot of slapstick comedy,” Choudhary says. “I like Dwayne Johnson’s timing and sense of humor. He always delivers his humor with a lot of positivity. Guys like Trevor Noah have created a lot of great political satire, but I like positivity with humor. Life is so much about what you see, hear and interpret.”
That positive, optimistic outlook shines through in Choudhary's response when asked what development project he is most proud of. “I always say that my best project is the one that will be the next project,” he says. “That’s what keeps me going.”
Name: Arjun Choudhary
City of residence: Tampa
Employer: Onicx Group
Title: Vice president
Birthplace: Kolkatta, India
Years on the Gulf Coast: Four
Marital status/children: Married
Alma mater/degree: University of Florida/master's degree in real estate finance
What community group or organization are you most involved with? SGI-USA/Soka Gakkai
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Taxi driver
What's your top tip for being productive? Delete all social media accounts
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Standup comedian
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Reading
What's your favorite board game, game show or video game? NBA 2K
What’s your go-to delivery service (DoorDash, Uber Eats, GrubHub, Bite Squad, etc.)? Uber Eats
What do you use most — Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or Google Meetings? Microsoft Teams
What’s the best binge-worthy show you have enjoyed during the pandemic? "Hannibal"
What’s the longest virtual meeting you’ve been on since mid-March? 140 minutes
How many times had you used video for a work meeting prior to the pandemic? Zero
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic? I can save lives by washing my hands periodically.
What do you miss most about the world pre-pandemic? Music festivals
What have you been spending more time doing during the pandemic? Solidifying personal and professional relationships
Do you prefer working from home or working from an office? Office
How have you kept up camaraderie with colleagues during the pandemic? Video calls where we drink coffee and catch up
What’s the first thing you’ll do after the pandemic? Take a vacation in the south of France