Trying to break new ground in Nepal’s business world is one thing the relatively new Director of the Siddhartha Group is set on doing to his fullest ability.
“I like taking challenges. Challenges help an individual to grow, both personally and professionally,” says Rahul Agrawal, Director of the Siddhartha Group. Agrawal who is in the post since 2012 believes in living life with no regrets and admits to being a very optimistic person. Born in Bhairahawa in 1986, he describes himself as a good leader who does not follow the commands of others.
Before joining the Bhairahawa-based industrial conglomerate, he was in the United States where hecompletedhis university level education and workedthere for five years. Agrawal who is also a Director of the Siddhartha Insurance graduated in Marketing and Finance from the prestigious University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After receiving his undergraduate university degree, he worked in Silicon Valley companies for over four years. His notable stay was in a venture capital and afterwards the multinational US e-commerce giant eBay.
However, he left the job and came back to Nepal in 2012. According to Agrawal, he always wanted to do something on his own. “Despite a high-ranking position in a global company, I never felt like I owned the job. So, I returned to Nepal to join my family business where I can have a sense of ownership,” he says. “Working in US was a big challenge for me because being under someone did not allow me to have the freedom in my work that I have wanted,” he adds.
Nevertheless, Agrawal admits that his US stay taught him to give immense respect towards the people working for him. “Since I am on the same path that my employees are on right now, I am able to understand their problems and difficulties in managing personal and professional lives,” he shares. He misses his two-day weekdays which he used to have in US. But rather than lamenting over it, he takes it as an opportunity gained. “I miss those days when after 6 pm, I could forget about my work and enjoy time with my friends. But I think to get something you need to lose something as well,” he opines.
Agrawal is also a member ofthe Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), a global peer-to-peer network of more than 12,000 influential business owners with 160 chapters in 50 countries. In just two months since joining EO and he says he has been learning a lot from the activities of the organisation. “Learning about proper management of time and adding efficiency to work without compromising on personal life is one of the best things about EO.EO also provides a great platform to meet new people and build connections abroad,” he mentions, adding, “The level of professionalism that EO offers is something I have never seen in Nepal before.”
Founded in 1987, EO is regarded as a catalyst enabling entrepreneurs to learn and grow, leading to greater success in business and beyond. The Nepal chapter of EO was founded in 2003 and has 51 members at present. Despite being a passionate technology enthusiast, Agrawal says he hasn’t been able to allocate time towards this sector. “There are various hurdles causing Nepal to lag behind in terms of technological innovations. Although my main area of interest is the technology sector, this situation has stopped me fully getting into it,” he says. Nonetheless, the tech enthusiasm has led Agrawal to initiate an IT venture in the form of an online car rental company Saarthi Plus.
Agrawal likes trekking and cycling but says that he hasn’t embarked on a long trekking trip since returning from US. “Although I haven’t been able to boost up my adrenaline, I have been travelling a lot,” he says. “I take a month off every year from my work to travel.” Married in 2015, Agrawal says that his views about travelling changed due to his wife. “Earlier, I used to find peace and comfort at home. But my wife loves travelling and because of her I have started to find happiness in travel.” Having roamed almost the entire United States, he has travelled to Greece, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, South India, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and many Asian countries. He has plans to visit Kenya next year.
He has learned many things from his father Jagadish Agrawal, founder and chairman of Siddhartha Group. “My father always says that work never gets old and it is always the person who gets old. So it is up to us on how we mature along with the business,” expresses Agrawal. He thinksbeing the son of industrialist Jagadish Agrawal comes with a lot of responsibilities. “I hope to have the same level of aggressiveness at work like he has without ever being tangent. I want to keep on growing not just financially, but both personally and professionally,” he says.
According to Agrawal, work is divided very fairly in his company and everyone is required to give their presentations in a monthly board meeting that takes place at Siddhartha Group’s headquarters at Bhairahawa. Ranging from manufacturing to trading, real estate and hydropower, the Group maintains a sizeable business portfolio. The conglomerate is looking to tap opportunities in tourism and the hospitality sector in an attempt to diversify its business.
“Our plan is to extend the portfolio by investing in the hospitality business. We are coming up with the boutique hotel Hotel Kantipur Village at Thamel and a decent sized hotel at Nagarkot,” he informs. Furthermore, the group has already acquired land in Pokhara and Jarsingh Pauwa, Kathmandu for future expansions.Five to 10 years down the line, Agrawal sees the Group starting new projects and growing its business portfolio, meanwhile, also getting into a more corporate setup with increased efficiency.