Nirvan has been learning the ropes as a management trainee at the international department of Chaudhary Group for the last few months. He knows this will give him an advantage as he works his way up the ladder-right to the top. Nirvan is Binod Chaudhary's son, and grandson to Lunkaran Das.
The third generation of Nepal's business houses are turning their lucrative family operated businesses into corporate empires. The leadership of business groups like Soaltee, Jyoti, Chaudhary and Golchha are gradually being handed over to the next generation which is bringing with it youthful exuberance and new management techniques. This could be viewed as a natural progression-children falling into the family business-except the "family businesses" are massive conglomerates and the "children" are often foreign-educated ambitious youngsters with fresh ideas and strategies that often don't sit well with their elders.
Nirvan says a certain amount of tension with his seniors is natural. "The difference in approach between my father and me is obvious in activities like dealing with employees and in marketing style," he said. The young entrepreneurs admit that they often have differences of opinion either due to a generation gap or simply different perspectives. Some of them have even gone into new spheres of business, not their families' traditional ones.
Sanjaya Golchha had to wait for several years before getting permission to float IT Nepal, a private information technology company. He believes the young generation is more aggressive and must acknowledge in good humour the advice from older members in the business.
Rajendra Khetan, the son of Mohan Gopal Khetan who heads the Khetan Group, admits he has been at loggerheads with his father at times. Vice chairman and spokesman of the FNCCI, the media savvy Rajendra says "When I joined the business, our group had diverse interests. I insisted on running the show alone by doing away with partners but my father wanted to keep the status quo." With the entry of Rajendra and his brothers to the family business, the Khetan portfolio has diversified to include beer, noodles and finance.
Pravin had no plans of returning home after earning his degree in the US. The son of Shyam Bahadur Pandey of Shangri-la Hotel, Pravin changed his mind and came home at age 24. Within six years, he had developed a reputation as an efficient hotel entrepreneur. Pravin became the youngest person ever to head the travel forum when he was elected chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
Rajan Shakya, 28, has also stepped into the footsteps of his versatile father, Karna Shakya. Rajan is now running the legendary Kathmandu Guest House in Thamel. After taking over as chairman of the renowned Soaltee Group from his father, Prabhakar Shumsher, Siddhartha has also been actively engaged in diversifying his group into dynamic areas like hydropower and textiles.
Saurav Jyoti takes calculated risks. He would rather have his existing businesses run professionally than diversify into new fields. The grandson of Mani Harsha and son of Padma Jyoti, Saurav assists his businessman-cum-academic father and also heads several enterprises under the Jyoti Group including the Philips account, the Himal Iron and Steel and Honda.
Shekhar Golchha joined the Golchha Organisation, set up by his grandfather Ram Lal Golchha, 14 years ago with a management degree from the UK. Today he is considered a major entrepreneur as the managing director of Him Electronics, where he has 300 employees and oversees a business worth Rs 1 billion annually.
At the Chaudhary Group office that overlooks the capital, Nirvan's cousin Megha is dividing her time between studies and business. A student of commerce at Poona in India, Megha is a "trainee director" at Norvic hospital that offers state-of-the arts services to heart patients. Megha may soon be the first woman to head a Nepali business house.
It is easy to dismiss these scions of business. After all, they were all born with silver spoons in their mouths. But their birth did not guarantee a berth in the upper echelons of their family businesses, they had to earn it like everyone else through hard work, attention to detail and by being street-smart. "The Golchha organisation is a platform rather than a paternal gift," says Sanjaya Golchha, who worked his way up from the accounts department through marketing and operations at Hulas Steel. No one cut him any slack just because he was the boss' son, he says. While in London, Nirvan Chaudhary worked as a waiter in a Nepali restaurant for experience. Pravin Pandey still has the ?24 that he earned at the Nepali-run Montis Restaurant.