Thu, April 18, 2024

'If a person is forward-looking then all the challenges convert into opportunities'

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Rohit Gupta

Vice Chairman, Ramesh Corp 

Rohit Gupta, a third-generation entrepreneur and Vice Chairman of Ramesh Corp, says he likes to keep things simple. “Life is already so complicated, I don’t want to add to it. I like being surrounded by positive people and love talking about positive things. If you get into the mode of not complicating things, then life becomes easy and sane.”

After graduating in Business Administration from Amity University in Delhi, Gupta went to the UK to complete his Master’s degree in Finance and Management from the University of Exeter. “Initially, I had no precise goal in life but gradually I got hooked to the finance part of the course,” he shares. Going to Delhi and then to UK gave him a lot of exposure and his perspective towards life changed dramatically. “I actually started appreciating myself which I believe is very important,” he states

Gupta always knew with certainty that he wanted to chart his own entrepreneurial journey in Nepal. Today he is recognized for his business acumen. 

In this issue of Business 360, we asked Gupta to share the five things that have impacted his life and work:

Finding opportunities in challenges 

I returned to Nepal from the UK in 2007 and at that time my father was leading the business. I struggled for the first one year because the business was set up in a family business atmosphere where there were very little gaps. I did get involved in several businesses but after a year, I realised I had to do something of my own. That is when I got in touch with one of my school friends and we started a mobile phone distribution business. Back then, we had mostly Nokia and Samsung phones so we started distribution of Spice Mobiles which was a fast-growing mobile brand at that time. We had to literally chase them for six months before we were finally appointed as its distributor in Nepal. That is how my entrepreneurial journey began. 

I have faced several crises during this journey and what I have learnt is to look at the problem closely and check the factors that are within or beyond our control. We can’t help it if the factors are beyond our control but if they are within our control then we need to talk to our core team members and try to find the best long-term solutions. 

I have never sought shortcuts in my decisions. Our plans are always built for the long term, we believe in sustainable solutions and ways. An entrepreneur is a person who faces a lot of challenges and obstacles but looks at them as an opportunity. I have also learnt that an entrepreneur has to be forward looking and possess a broad mind and is someone who doesn’t look at only their benefit but at a wider purpose, and is able to drive the business and carry forward their vision.

For an entrepreneur, the main challenge is to make people believe in you. Previously, when I used to visit banks for loans, I would get it due to my father’s reputation and not my educational degree or whatever. Initially, even your family members will have concerns about whether you will be able to handle a business. I think that is the main challenge everyone faces. Personally, for me, the trust factor was a big challenge but I took it as an opportunity and moved forward.

People often ask about the challenges in continuing a business legacy but like I mentioned earlier if a person is forward-looking then all the challenges convert into opportunities. I know this from personal experience because when my father passed away five years ago things were not easy as he was the patriarch of our family and the business. However, I took strength from his life and I rebranded our business as Ramesh Corp in his memory. We are now living by his principles through the organisation and taking our business forward. 

A leader is only as good as his team

After I got more actively involved in our business I have revamped our thought process. We have been fortunate that my father had already created a strong platform from where we could launch ourselves. 

I have tried to bring in more professionalism in our organisation and as owners, we do not attach ourselves to each and every business. We have professionals, senior management teams with young members who are driving the businesses. At Ramesh Corp, we have made sure to invest in our human capital. We try to hire the best and retain the best. What we have also done over the years is to hire people who are competent regardless of their gender. However, we do empower women in our organisation to ensure they rise through the organisational hierarchy. We have very competent female managers who have improved the office environment through their diligence and seriousness. We are working on bringing more women on board and we try to give the best organisational culture and environment across all our offices. 

The other aspect I have emphasised is to create an open atmosphere and culture where people are able to share their experiences. We want our staff to not be afraid to share their thoughts with the management. I wouldn’t claim that I changed this aspect because it already existed before, but we gradually took this even further. 

We have always been running our businesses in a very ethical manner. We believe in working with trustworthy people and building an ethical business where we can create opportunities for our staff too. It should not always be ‘me’ and if any person wants to succeed in business they must think of the betterment of their employees too. 

As a leader in whichever sphere of life we are involved, we have to be very clear about our intent. One needs to be thoughtful about others too and when you can do that then no matter how diverse the backgrounds of the people working for you, there will never be any problem. You have to back your people and whatever decision you make it has to be for the good of the entire organisation and not just for you. I have always believed in making our staff a part of our vision so that they develop a sense of belongingness because at the end of the day, no organisation will sustain and survive if it is one-man show. As a leader, you are as good as your team.

People first

Till date I have never been overwhelmed by success. The way I measure success for myself is how people around me are doing. The wellbeing, happiness and growth of people around me is what I believe defines my success and this is something I learnt from my father. Of course, profit and money are important but people come first. 

What we have to bear in mind is that in any difficult situation, at the end of the day, it will only be us facing that along with our near and dear ones with whom we can confide in, and if you have helped people along the way they will be there when you need them. 

It is very easy to break or destroy anything but extremely difficult to protect and safeguard things. So, whether I am in the boardroom dealing with company issues or elsewhere dealing with personal family matters, I put people first. This is something I have always followed in life. 

Though we have been quite successful over the years, I don’t think we have really achieved something that I can be really proud of. I believe we have a really long way to go and this is just the beginning. At Ramesh Corp, 90% of the average age of employees is below 40. We call ourselves a very young organisation. We have definitely reached some milestones in our business but one can never be complacent. We see a lot of opportunities and hope for more development to take place in Nepal in the coming days. At present, the country is in a very bad situation but every economy runs through its own cycle. So, we are heavily invested in the country for the next ten years. When Nepal’s economy revives, when we have reverse brain drain in the country, and when Ramesh Corp reaches a higher platform, then maybe I will be able to say that I have succeeded and am really proud of my achievements.

We also need to give back to the community and society where we do business. We established the Ramesh Gupta Memorial Trust in 2018 in memory of my late father. Through the trust, we have been creating awareness about cancer and also providing financial help to patients who cannot afford treatment. Besides, we also conduct counselling sessions for cancer patients and their families. The reason why we have focused on cancer is because my father passed away due to cancer and I know it is a big ordeal for both patients and their families.

A brand is not just a name

People often talk about how successful a brand is but fail to see the tireless efforts that have gone into making that brand. A brand is not just a name. It is a combination of core values, vision, mission and principle objectives. I think these are the pillars that anyone has to look into while trying to create a brand. 

When I was rebranding our business as Ramesh Corp, it was not about just giving a name to our organisation. I spent a lot of time with my team and consultants to take our core principle forward together because my father always believed in taking everyone together. That is how we introduced our core principle of ‘forward together’.

Then we have our core pillars - speed, authenticity, professionalism and pioneers. All these things are not just for name sake; they are values we deeply believe in. We have tried to imbibe these pillars in any business we do or activities we conduct within any of our verticals. We have it at the management level right now and slowly we want to translate it to our stakeholders and employees too. I think our brand is a combination of all these thoughts and attributes. 

Persistence matters

I started the mobile business when I was 26 years old because I saw a huge revolution of mobile phones coming and changing the world. I believed in the idea so despite some initial hiccups I was persistent in making the business work. I didn’t distract myself. What I have noticed these days is people open a business, get some funding and start earning some revenue and then they start doing everything else except running the business. This is one basic reason why startups fail. Whenever you open a business your life should revolve around it until you have grown big enough whereby you are able to hire others to look after it. 

The other challenge I see in Nepal for startups is getting the required funding. The third aspect is we lack a startup ecosystem. There are many smart professionals and entrepreneurs who are willing and able to build startups but we lack an ecosystem that can provide the necessary skillset. There is also a lack of support from the government and business community. Being involved in the Confederation of Nepalese Industries I have received the opportunity to look at what is going on in Nepal more closely and deeply. The issue I feel is negligence and avoiding what is in front of you. If you look at the policymakers, bureaucracy or politicians, everyone knows there is something wrong but no one is willing to address it or take accountability or work on improving it. 

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MARCH 2024

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