March 27, 2023
Marwar Perspectives

Of Old Values and New Methods

Apr 18, 2016

Over the last few years, the Marwari community has experienced a greater exposure to global cultures, new business practices, novel ideas and developments. Has this led to a shift from traditional business practices to more modern ones? MARWAR speaks to different members of the community to learn how they balance tradition and modernity, especially when it comes to their business.

Virendra-Bardia_1VIRENDRA BARDIA
CEO, Ethnic
I remember going to my father’s office after school and observing how things were done. This gave me the opportunity to learn things from scratch and the tricks of the trade. From my elders, I learnt the principles of effective leadership, time management and patience. These principles made me mature. My MBA degree taught me marketing techniques, which I used for research, to target consumers and expand my business. Ethnic Dukaan is an e-commerce portal that sells women’s ethnic wear online. Fabrics are chosen with care by a team of select designers. Exquisite artisanship and stringent quality control at every step is backed by a strong in-house production framework. In the modern scenario today, business principles haven’t changed much. There is no shortcut to success. Even today, hard work, a clear focus and perseverance help one fulfill one’s aspirations. Ethnic Dukaan has grown in a short span of time, thanks to
a balance of skills imbibed from elders and modern business practices.

Chitra-Goenka_1CHITRA GOENKA
Founder, Labelcentric Luxury Enterprises Private Limited (LabelCentric)
My parents had their own businesses; I remember accompanying my mother to her showroom (of western garments) during the holidays and helping out during sales and exhibitions and at the cash counter. I knew that I, too would someday start my own venture. Spending more than 10 of my formative years in Dubai exposed me to many global cultures. My father taught me to be patient and to never give up. The younger generation wants things on a platter or at the click of a button. We need to realise that nothing can surpass hard work and perseverance. When I quit my eight-year-long job as an interior designer to start LabelCentric, I didn’t know that it would be so challenging. Every time doubt creeps in, I try and remember what my parents have taught me. That keeps me going. I feel that young people like me are more open to taking risks and starting out-of-the-box ventures. However, the core business principles remain the same. For me it’s more about following one’s dream and taking risks, when required.

Richa-Lohia_1RICHA LOHIA
Proprietor, SRL Packaging
My family has always been in business. So, after working as a techno-functional specialist for an IT company for almost nine years, I decided to quit and start my own venture. Some of the most important principles I’ve learnt from my elders are honesty, commitment and being loyal to your customers and business associates. They have helped me develop and share long-lasting relationships with customers and build my integrity in the niche market. Every appreciation and recommendation for my work increased my confidence and faith in the values and principles imparted by my elders. My business trips abroad during my stint in the IT sector helped me learn a lot about time management, networking and marketing one’s product or service. They helped me when dealing with global vendors better. It’s not difficult to achieve a balance between traditional and modern business practices; we just need to understand the market scenario and when to implement which rule.

Siddharth-Kasliwal_1SIDDHARTH KASLIWAL
Owner, Gem Palace
My grandfather always emphasised that ‘the customer is king’ and ‘the customer is always right’. One must treat customers like family so that the customer keeps coming back. My father, the late Munnu Kasliwal, and I have followed the same principle and have ensured that every customer is happy when he or she leaves Gem Palace. People are often amazed when I take a product back if a customer is unhappy with it. As children, we were taught that respect is a must in all dealings, be it on a personal or a professional level. It is important to respect everyone, be it our elders or craftsmen, who are a part of the Gem Palace family. This is why I attended the wedding of our oldest craftsman’s son and am present during important family functions of people associated with Gem Palace. Attending jewellery shows and exhibitions has helped me understand the needs of the global world, while retaining my Indian values. I don’t completely disregard a piece if it does not appeal to a customer’s tastes. Rather, I keep it
aside and try reusing it later, for example turning an old pendant into a fashionable brooch.

Rahul-Agarwal_1Rahul Agarwal
CEO, Organic Harvest
I come from a business family. I grew up listening to business talks around the dinner table. I learnt about the need to be patient while handling both success and failure, to be honest with business partners, and share one’s vision with employees. I learned that from my father. These principles have given me the wisdom to set parameters for choosing a business partner at Organic Harvest and helped me in running my business. Today, Organic Harvest is India’s only homegrown brand with an entire range of organic skincare products, which speak of nature in its purest form. However, for us, relying on nature does not mean a return to traditional cosmetic manufacturing technologies. Rather, we condense the latest scientific knowledge concerning the needs of the skin and combine it with excellent manufacturing facilities to create a treasure of natural ingredients. I think business principles are more or less the same as before. Although, a modern business practice that I follow is ‘think bigger, aim higher’. To make the most of life, set big goals; it’s the bold idea that will lead to exponential results.

Samir-Modi_1SAMIR MODI
Managing Director, Modi Enterprises
My grandfather believed that if you can’t make the best, then partner with companies who are the best in their respective fields and bring them to India. This is why the Modi family has had so many joint ventures with Fortune 500 companies. He believed in working for the community and giving back to the society. We have been spending a percentage of our profit on CSR for generations. The younger generation is adopting new practices and ideas while also adhering to lessons taught by our elders. My grandfather and my father have been my role models. At the same time, I am a fan of business magnate Richard Branson too. However, the values that I imbibed while growing up have not changed at all. I too want to create new things and leave my mark in this world; money is not as important as the desire to make a difference. My grandfather, the late Rai Bahadur Gujarmal Modi, believed if one promises to do something, then one must fulfil it at any cost. This is also my philosophy.

Swati-Sharma_1SWATI SHARMA
Co-founder, D’
Growing up in a joint Marwari family during my formative years, I was exposed to a lot of business virtues. I have also helped with the family business, be it doing small tasks such as billing individual customers or managing cash transactions and handling accounts. My father and grandfather taught me there is no substitute to hard work; and that business should not simply be profit-oriented. The end goal should be wealth maximisation while providing value to each and every stakeholder. While we have adopted these basic principles at D’, business strategies have changed. While business earlier was a monologue, today it involves a two-way approach, wherein consumers are very vocal about their choices or grievances. Technology should not be used only for bettering manufacturing techniques but also for improving all aspects of business.

Praveen-Khandelwal_1PRAVEEN KHANDELWAL
Director, Pranay Impex Pvt Ltd
On visits to the family shop, I would notice the trust my father showed towards customers, and how he would engage customers by calling the men ‘beta’ and the women ‘bhabhi ji’. I realised that if one wants to have customer loyalty, one must maintain dialogue with them. My brothers and I started the business of manufacturing cleaning aids. My B-school background helped me gain analytical knowledge and develop an ethical approach for sustaining business. While my degree taught me how to do thorough research, my father’s take on entrepreneurship, (old- school but meaningful), helped me reach out to the global market. He taught me that one cannot succeed in business without taking risks. I took the risk of entering a market where there were only a few players and surmounted the challenges with basic business acumen mixed with principles learnt from my father and practices we had nurtured.

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