A determined individual since her childhood, Latika Golyan is moving ahead on the path to success by staying true to her roots.
--BY MANISHA BALAMI
The renowned American author Lewis B. Smedes once said, “Some people still make promises and keep those they make. When they do, they help make life around them more stably human.” Latika Golyan, director of Golyan Group lives up to this saying. She believes in having faith in oneself and that setting up clear goals can lead everyone towards success. “With clear goals and confidence comes, dedication, discipline and hard work,” says Latika.
Born to a business family of Chennai in India, Latika didn’t face many hardships. However, when her parents’ thought of adopting a son, she promised her father Ratan Arya to be like a son herself in terms of role and responsibilities and take over their business when she grew up. She assured him that she would do anything that a son can do in a family. In the event, she decided to get into the business sector. Besides, she says that her father had taught her to dream big. With every book she read about successful entrepreneurs of the world, her longing to be like them increased. “At one point of time, I told father about my desire to become a pilot. But he replied I should dream of having airline companies instead,” recalls Latika.
As a member of a business family, Latika was aware of everything her father was doing. As her father used to work on construction sites, she used to go to the sites with him. She remembers that from a very young age, she used to go to her father’s office as well as construction sites. “He was my best friend. Even though I was very small, my father used to ask for suggestions on what should I do and which design should I use”, she shares. Furthermore, she says, “I don’t know if I was adding value to his business or not, but he used to really get me involved in what he was doing.” She knew everything her father was doing as Ratan used to share his activities for the day with Latika after returning from the office.
Inspired very much by Bill Gates, 16 years old Latika asked for her father’s permission to go to the United Kingdom for college studies. Being born 13 years after the marriage of Ratan and Krishana Arya, Latika was really close to her parents who did not want to let her go away anywhere. At that very moment, Latika promised Ratan that she would return to fulfill all his dreams and one day achieve his level of success. “That promise was very important to me. It has been the key factor driving me towards the business sector,” expresses Latika. She went to the United Kingdom to study business management and computing at the University of Leeds.
Aiming for the Sky
Tying nuptial knots at the relatively young age of 21, her passion for the construction business did not wane even after her marriage. When Golyan Group decided to step into the construction sector 10 years ago, she expressed her willingness to get into the business and get involved in the Westar Residency project at Balkumari. Meanwhile, she got pregnant and took it a bit easy with the apartment project. However, she did not stop working.
Currently, Latika is looking after the entire construction Hyatt Place hotel at Soalteemode. Upon completion, it will be the second hotel property to be managed by Hyatt in Nepal. The construction of the 153-room hotel project which initially started as the most luxurious apartment project in Nepal was later changed into a hotel after the 2015 earthquake. According to Latika, Hyatt Place is planned for completion by the first quarter of 2020.
Besides, she has also ventured into the agriculture sector. Latika, who is also the Managing Director of Golyan Agro Trade says, “We got into agribusiness a year back to supply the market with reasonably-priced fresh organic vegetables that are free from harmful pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals.” For the purpose, Golyan Agro Trade has started producing organic vegetables at its farm in Jhapa which is spread across 200 bighas of land. The company has been selling the farm produce under the brand ‘Mato’. In fact, this agribusiness of Golyan Group was initiated as the group’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative aimed at supporting farmers of Jhapa to produce organic vegetables. “We started by providing farmers training in organic farming to raise their livelihood levels,” informs Latika. Soon they realised that the farmers lacked access to the market and were not getting the right prices for their produce. Latikathen decided to start the company and registered the brand name ‘Mato’ to sell the vegetables. According to her, Golyan Agro Trade has assured farmers with the guarantee that the company will buy everything they produce. Currently, 2000 farmers are working with the company.
“Despite being an agrarian economy, Nepal imports agro products over USD 2 billion annually. Our goal is to reduce the imports and to provide healthy food to Nepalis,” she says, adding, “We have started to partner with farmers and agricultural cooperatives in different parts of the country to expand this agribusiness initiative.” According to Latika, Golyan Agro Trade has started farming at Bardiya, Lele (Lalitpur), Palung (Makwanpur), Dhadhing and Dhankuta. Besides vegetables and fruits, the company is preparing to introduce organic rice in the market. Teaming up with farmers in Bardiya, it will bring the local organic rice variety ‘Kala Namak’ under the ‘Mato’ brand within the next few months.
In addition, the company has commenced commercial farming of fruits at Jhapa. ‘It will also be a demo farm where farmers can come and learn how things are done,” says Latika.
At the moment, ‘Mato’ products are available in Kathmandu through the outlets of Bhatbhateni Departmental Store, Salesberry and Big Mart. In the meantime, the company has many other plans to supply Mato vegetables and fruits around the Kathmandu valley.
Breaking the Stereotype
Like other women entrepreneurs, breaking the stereotype was a challenge for her. She had to work with people who doubted her capabilities as they were not used to dealing with a woman in the construction field. Even her son had asked her why she was working and not staying at home like the mothers of his friends. “But when people see your dedication and hard work, the mindset can be changed,” thinks Latika. She remembers her grandmother-in-law being not so happy about her absence from home due to long work hours. But even her 90 year old grand mother in law’s perception changed and she was happy that Latika is making something of herself.
She believes everyone needs to have a purpose in life and that it is extremely important to be connected with their inner self and do what they really want to do. “Having a clear goal helps to overcome every challenge that comes along the way. That goal should not be an option. It is because if you want something that bad, you will do whatever it takes. It has to happen anyhow,” she says, adding, “When you really want something and connect to it, nothing can stop you.”
She wants to see more women in leadership positions in the business sector. “I think the change is taking place,” she observes. “Researches have shown that companies with women in senior positions are performing well.” She attributes factors like dedication, hard work, time management, ability to learn, continuous improvement, patience, networking skills, willingness to accept mistakes as stepping stones for success.
Finding Time for Family and Herself
A mother of two, Latika maintains her personal and professional life by scheduling her time effectively. For her, discipline and time management are very important aspects in life. Despite the busy schedule, she never compromises in giving time to her children. “My day starts and ends with my children. I make sure I spend some time with them,” she says.
She loves to indulge herself in activities like reading, dancing, learning new skills, alongside pursuits like adventure sports, travelling and spending time with her children. A fitness enthusiast, Latika visits the gym thrice a week.
Her future plans include completing and starting the new hotel. She sees tremendous scope in agribusiness and her goal is to get everything a Nepali eats to be healthy chemical free and pesticide free. “Currently we are working with fruits, vegetable and rice only. We will soon get into the production and distribution of the entire range of food items that we eat,” she says. Furthermore she is also looking to venture into new areas of tourism. “Nepal has some beautiful places and many things are yet to be exploited, so I would like to get into agro tourism as well,” shares Latika.