For the last two decades, Talvinder Singh Kohli and his son Gagandeep Singh Kohli have been nurturing students in the fields of engineering, pharmacy, management and dentistry.
After starting out in the automobile industry in the 1970s and then moving to real estate and construction in 1986, Talvinder Singh Kohli ventured into education in the year 2001 by establishing the Guru Nanak institutions — growing from just 300 students in the first year to nearly 10,000 today. The founder and Chairman of the Guru Nanak group of institutions says, “Being from North India and Punjabi — entrepreneurship is in the blood.”
A philanthropist, entrepreneur and social worker, Talvinder Singh, who along with his son Gagandeep Singh Kohli runs the institute, says, “It’s been great to work with and be a part of the information and knowledge imparting industry, especially the education sector.”
Over the years, many changes have occurred — competition has become intense and the size of some markets have shrunk. “Due to the arrival of many competitors, the existing players were compelled to venture into new markets, but for the consumer, it’s a win–win situation. They have got more options to choose from at lesser prices and can also get a chance to experience new products which helps the economy of that particular market by way of providing jobs,” says Gagandeep, who did his Bachelor’s in Computers and an MBA from Queen Mary University, UK.
Talvinder Singh sees a clear benefit of having his son on board — elevated loyalty. “There are certain liberties taken because he’s my son. There may be confrontations, but always healthy ones because he considers it as his business too.”
The Kohlis credit their business success with knowing and respecting each other’s strengths. “My dad is a visionary. It’s always beneficial to have our own people at strategic positions and my father is there to guide, help and motivate me, there is no match for him. Over the years, our business has also shaped our bonding wherein it’s getting stronger as the years go by. Working together helps us to discuss things and move forward. Having him there also makes me secure enough to take risks,” says Gagandeep, a bike and automobile enthusiast.
Making decisions based on the best interests of the company rather than what makes them happy is what has made the Guru Nanak group successful. “Conceiving an idea is one thing and implementing the same with conviction is another. Once I conceive an idea, I discuss the same with a set of people who I believe can take it forward for implementation, and they are equipped with whatever they need to successfully implement the idea,” says the Chairman.
The father-son duo believe in leaving official talk at the workplace. As a young Vice-Chairman and the founder’s son, Gagandeep faces additional pressure to prove himself worthy of his role. “Entrepreneurs are made under the tutelage of experienced mentors. Over the years, after being into many facets of business, I find myself more mature and eager to learn new things,” says Gagandeep.
“New challenges give new opportunities. We are keen on strengthening our existing businesses and explore further by way of mergers, acquisitions and investments in new areas,” says Talvinder. “Human and financial resources are crucial for any business venture and managing and getting both on time is always difficult,” adds Gagandeep.
When you take pride in your business, you don’t mind the extra effort, believe the duo. “Retain the talent and sustain growth and quality. Trust your people and give them power and resources to succeed. Without your people, you cannot be successful. Over the years we have learnt this, keeping our stakeholders like students, parents and associates in mind.”