A committed family man, shrewd businessman and collector extraordinaire, Raj Shah is a jack of all trades and a master of living life with no regrets.
--BY AASHIYANA ADHIKARI
“Have a clear vision on where you want to be and what you want in life and break it into a detailed strategy,” says Raj Shah, managing director of Jawalakhel Group of Industries (JGI), a business conglomerate managing multiple companies manufacturing and distributing alcoholic beverages. The distilleries, brewery facilities andresearch units of JGI together produce close to a dozen different popular brands across various categories of alcoholic drinks in the Nepali market.
Born in 1976, Shah did his schooling from Future Stars High School, Jawalakhel and completed his higher secondary education from Lincoln School, Kathmandu. He holds an undergraduate degree in Science from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA. While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Shah also took courses in marketing and tourism. He is a firm believer that learning is a lifelong process and one can always learn something new every day. “I try to educate myself on a daily basis with constant reading in many fields of interest like leadership, innovation, time management, productivity, strategic planning, branding, the search for happiness and how to be a better husband and father,” he mentions.
A father of two lovely daughters, Shah has been happily married for the last 12 years. According to him, he loves nothing more than spending time with his wife and daughters.
He describes himself as a travel enthusiast and dedicates at least 50 days a year to travelling. In addition, he has a passion for collecting prized possessions. “I have 15 classic and 15 modern cars, 400 single malts and a dozen luxury Swiss watches, among many other collections,” says Shah. He has a “bucket list” of hundred things to do before you die and tries to check off at least five to ten things from that list every year.
Shah always knew he wanted to continue his family business and took it as a responsibility to live up to his family’s legacy. “I was born to afamily which has been running a distillery business for a long time. But with time, I have developed an interest in real estate, tourism and alternative energy,” he says, adding, “When the right time comes, I will be sure to invest in those sectors.” According to Shah, even though his family is one of the largest tax generating families in the country, he wants to give back more to the community, particularly to those in need.
He recalls facing many challenges both personally and professionally along his journey but considers himself lucky to have a supportive family that helped him get through it all. “In life on more than a handful of occasions, my factories have been forced to shut down for over three to six months which could have bankrupted us. But we found a way to survive,” Shah expresses. I believe unless you have gone through and overcome hardships, you really do not appreciate what you have. It is from our failures we learn and grow and I have had my fair share,” he adds.
Shah does not believe in living life with any form of regret. “I love life. I wish I could live another 500 years, truly. There is so much to do. I don’t feel bitter or angry or disappointed. If anything, I am grateful for where I come from. I have absolutely no regrets.” However, he feels he should have learned to speak other languages and learn to play a musical instrument. “I have little time but I am learning to play an instrument with my daughters,” he says.
Shah has been an active member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) for the last fifteen years. EO is a global peer-to-peer network of over 12,000 influential business owners with 160 chapters in 50 countries. According to Shah, EO has helped him expand his networks and the members of the organisation have become like a family to him. Founded in 1987, EO is the catalyst that enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, contributing to greater success in business and beyond. EO Nepal, which was established in 2003, is one of the 160 chapters of the global organisation. Currently, it has 61 members.
Shah says not only has EO helped him to be a better entrepreneur, but more importantly, it has helped him become a better human being. “EO has taught me to manage my time and have a good level of work-life balance,” shares Shah. “Along with being a good entrepreneur, I have learnt to be a better son, husband, brother and father,” he adds.
He abides by the rule of working with intelligence rather than just working hard. “Don’t try to copy others, think of something new and consistently be innovative is something that I believe,” thinks Shah. He suggests that one should constantly try to learn what is happening globally and adapt it into the business accordingly.
On future plans and prospects, Shah says he plans to grow his company and continue to be a leader in the liquor industry as long as the company exists. “In the next five years, we will grow over 100 percent in revenue and cross over Rs 5,000 crores and be valued at over a billion US Dollars,” concludes Shah.