When You Are Learning , You Should Be Humble And When You Have Learnt , You Should Be Humbler
By Ms. Monica and Sonica Malhotra- MBD Group
Beautiful Minds - 'Wings of Inspiration'
Ms. Monica and Ms. Sonica Malhotra(MBD GROUP)- Two strong headed, independent women who were so passionate, followed a disciplinary attitude of their father ‘Ashok Kumar Malhotra’, with an objective of protecting what their father has given his life to build up i.e. MBD and bringing innovation into the group without losing out the legacy of MBD.
Give us some insight about your business?
MBD group is a 60-year-old company which was started from a small bookshop by our father and grandfather. Our father had a dream to become a publisher. He wanted to have his own printing presses and book making centers. He has put all his dreams into reality by working towards it. With his vision and hard work and little contribution made by us and our team, today, we have 9 set of printing presses and books being published in all the states of the country covering all the subjects, all classes and all Indian languages. We are working in both the spheres i.e. digital and printing and provide all the products and services for the education centre starting from books, text books, reference books, work books, teacher resources digital resources for children , hardware for children , apps , online selling through e-commerce portal , education portal , augmented reality , virtual reality , 3D learning. We have also ventured into other countries. We have our first International office at Capetown, South Africa where we had our first Indian publishing in the International catalogue. We have built enroads in Srilanka where our books are a must have in every state board school as per the Srilankan Government. More than 52 titles of our books are recommended in Srilanka. We have diversified into hospitality as well. Our first project was a 5-star hotel in Noida named Radisson Blu which was a great success and is leading the market by double the margins. Learning in hospitality was initially difficult, but fun to learn. Our second project was multiplex malls in Ludhiana and Jalandhar which again came out to be a huge success as it was the first mall in the entire Punjab. Now, our third luxury project is in Bangalore where we have added service apartments and commercial space. We have also been approached by the German Steigenberger which is a German luxury hotel company. German approval of an Indian company is a big milestone for us and soon the Steigenberger will be entering India with MBD. So, we are doing very well in all the aspects as we are a majority on the board and we are a majority on the equity.
Dream is at one side but did your father had enough resources?
The time he thought to become a publisher, he did not have enough resources. He worked for 1 year doing all the menial jobs’ starting from delivering newspapers, packing, working at the bookshop and he collected a lakh of rupees and also took a loan from various people.
How did he repaid his loan?
At the juncture, when he took the loan was a time new subject “ journal education “ was added to Punjab University and he wrote that book himself in 72 hours and that too at the age of 13. This book made him the publisher and was the only book available in the entire Punjab. Through this, he repaid everybody’s loan before time.
Was his life full of struggle?
His life was full of struggle. God was not as kind as he was to us. We got everything on the platter, he had 18 hours of long schedule, slept on the tables, initially doing every little job on his own. He started his journey too young i.e. at 13 years of age. He has completely built everything on his own.
According to you, was it possible for him to do the same in today’s time?
Yes, with the kind of strength, vision, intellect and conviction he had, he could have done the same. He had so much vision and clarity of where the markets are going and where the market gaps were. There were so many established hotel players at that time but he was the first one to enter Noida when everybody thought that it was a jungle. But now everybody wants to enter Noida. Radisson is doing phenomenally well and before we entered renovation last year, we were ranked No.1 in the entire Delhi / NCR. Also, he thought of building a multiplex mall in Ludhiana at the time when it was completely unheard of and it came out to be a milestone in the development of Punjab. He had a key eye in understanding the gap and implementing it. So, visionary will remain a visionary, era might change.
How did he had such a clean vision?
It was completely inborn. Starting early in his life, determination, working hard to achieve made him a visionary. He knew how to be a team player, how to motivate the team. Vision is primary but education, one can still acquire. Vision is a god’s gift. Moreover, he had a sense of confidence in himself as he started early in life when there were no resources and now when he had, there was nothing to lose.
How did he gave time to you both?
He had time for everyone and was very much attached to his people. He was someone else who was always available for everyone. Despite 18 long working hours, he had time for his family members, his people and used to remember everybody’s name, would go out of his comfort area to solve somebody’s problem. Whenever we wanted to go for a movie or a dinner, he would take out time for us. So, he managed everything very well.
What motivated you to join the business?
It was effortless. No motivation was required at all. It was a privilege to learn from him and no second thought came to our mind that we both should do something else. We were so excited to join the business as we wanted to know the realities from our father’s perspective.
What are the obstacles that you both had faced in business?
Initially, it was very tough for the team to accept us as they felt that we were still kids and have joined the business for time-pass sake. But, gradually when we gained knowledge, started making the book, started implementing what we have learnt and finally able to guide them made them realize that we both have joined business for taking it further and with a serious sense of commitment. Other than this, there were demand side issues, team issues and restructuring issues. When our father died, there was a doubt in everybody’s mind if the girls would be able to do justice to MBD as it was known because of our dad but our mom supported us completely and encouraged us to stand strong and take business further. She stood like a rock. We believe that ‘ when you are learning, you should be humble and when you have learnt, you should be humbler ‘. We take all the decisions together as a team, there is no one person responsible for the decision and this is the major reason that has made MBD grew to such greater heights.
How do you both deal with a difference of opinion?
It’s completely our upbringing, the way we have been brought up. One should keep their egos aside and should move ahead with logic and intellect then one will never have any problem. We believe in going ahead with the best advice be it ours or be it our colleague’s. One should just keep on learning. Women are often afraid of handling finances. Can you give some advice to them on how to handle finances? Women should ask as many questions as they could until they learn to do so. They should never be ashamed of saying ‘ I don’t know ‘. Women can do anything in life, be it handling finances or be it doing household or professional work. Just don’t fear to learn. Just walk on the ground and aim for sky because if one aims for sky then he will definitely reach somewhere in life.
"When you are learning, you should be humble and when you have learnt, you should be humbler."