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Indian Business Leader Shiv Nadar Tells Fuqua Students to be Relentless in their Pursuits

Indian business leader Shiv Nadar gives advice to students

November 30, 2012

Shiv Nadar means a lot of different things to different people. He is a highly successful business leader, ranked by Forbes as the 13th wealthiest man in India. He is co-founder of HCL Groups, one of India's top five software firms.  Nadar is also a major philanthropist, pledging more than 10 percent of his wealth to charity. In 2011, he also became a leader in higher education establishing the Shiv Nadar University in India. Nadar offered some life lessons from his different pursuits to students at Duke's Fuqua School of Business on November 29th.

He joked about his restless personality. "My wife often says to me 'can't you ever think positive?'" But, Nadar says a restless spirit helped foster a drive to achieve in the fast paced technology industry. "A business plan becomes a worthless piece of paper within a year in the technology world," Nadar told the group. This restless spirit was part of what led him to leave a prestigious training system in 1976 to start HCL with a small team. When asked if he had a safety net if things didn't work out, Nadar said "none."

Nadar highlighted India's unique entrepreneurial environment and noted that healthcare would be a good sector for business school students looking to advance in their careers. "The recession is never going to hurt you. It's not healthcare, it's sick care."

Nadar says he believes an entrepreneur should be passionate and a bit paranoid. "You must be relentless in your pursuit. An entrepreneur is like a sculptor. Given a stone you realize what statue is inside that."

Philanthropy was another theme of the session. He encouraged the students to "build institutions to last."