Before he gives a speech, K.R. Ravindran doesn’t like flowery, adulatory introductions. They make him uncomfortable. The 2015-16 Rotary president would rather keep a low profile and share the credit. If it were up to him, you probably wouldn’t even be reading this article.

Negotiating Days of Tranquility during the Sri Lankan civil war so that health workers could administer drops of polio vaccine? Although it was on his desk that the agreement landed, he says, a lot of people worked to make that happen. Rebuilding 23 tsunami-damaged schools for 14,000 children? He merely led the committee. Taking a label-printing business from a small outfit operating in a space the size of a garage to a global powerhouse in the packaging business that has helped change the value-added tea industry in his country? Well, he simply happened to be in the right place at the right time.

“I’m sometimes introduced as a self-made man,” says Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo. “You’ve got to be utterly egocentric to believe you are self-made. Each one of us is made because so many people helped us become who we are.

One of the reasons I work so much for Rotary is that I have been helped by so many people, and often you never have a chance to reciprocate,” he explains. “The only way you can is by helping others. When the people I help ask me, ‘What can I do?’ I say, ‘Go and help someone else in return.’”

For Ravindran, paying it forward isn’t a fad, it’s a way of life. His theme for this Rotary year, Be a Gift to the World, also summarizes his personal philosophy.