Shiv Nadar came from humble beginnings but in his own words, he ‘did all right’. Born on 14 July 1945 in the Indian village of Moolaipozhi, Tamil Nadu to parents Sivasubramaniya Nadar and Vamasundari Devi, the young Shiv Nadar was destined for greatness.
The Indian billionaire’s educational journey took him through many different institutions and ended up making him the man he is today. His academic life commenced at Town Higher Secondary School in Kumbakonam but Nadar soon shifted schools and got into the Elango Corporation Higher Secondary School in Madurai followed by the Town High School. He finally graduated from St. Joseph Boys Higher Secondary School in Trichy. Nadar secured a pre-university degree in the American College at Madurai along with a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from PSG College of Technology at Coimbatore. It is interesting to note that Nadar’s education was almost exclusively in the South Indian language, Tamil, and he didn’t learn to speak English until he was 22!
The tech magnate’s professional career began at Cooper Engineering Company. Fascinated by the world of technology, Nadar moved to New Delhi in 1967 to work for the Digital Products Division of Delhi Cloth Mills. At that time the company was the fourth largest in India and the division specialized in the making of calculators. Bored of his monotonous job routine, the young entrepreneur ventured into his own business with nothing but a cogent vision and five of his loyal friends and colleagues. These companions included Ajai Chowdhry, the ex-chairman of HCL Infosystems, and Arjun Malhotra, the current CEO and Chairperson of Headstrong, an IT service management company.
The Entrepreneurial Route
Nadar’s enterprise was originally called Microcomp Limited and was a garage startup dealing with the manufacturing and selling of teledigital calculators and microprocessors to Indian consumers. The venture aimed to gain capital for a PC-making company that the young genius of Shiv Nadar had envisioned. Nine years later, in 1976, this aim was fulfilled, and Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL) was founded in Noida, India with an initial capital investment of INR 187,000 to sell, as the name suggested, computers that Nadar and his team made.
Following the expulsion of IBM from India in 1977, the young entrepreneur found himself in a market which suddenly had space for start-ups like his and this proved to be a game-changer for HCL. Soon after in 1978, Nadar and his team came up with their very own 8-bit microprocessor, the first of its kind. The nascent IT hardware firm ventured into International Markets in 1980, when Nadar set up Far East Computers in Singapore to sell IT hardware in that country. The venture was a huge success, with the company booking revenues close to INR 1 million in its first year alone.
Taking The Risk
The subsequent years saw the young genius experimenting with software and by 1984, HCL was the proud owner of its very own relational database management system and a client-server architecture produced in-house. Perhaps, like any billionaire, Shiv Nadar never stopped innovating and reinventing the focus of his company. In 1991, the rebranded HCL Enterprise incorporated its first subsidiary, HCL Overseas Limited, to deal with research and development of software services. It would soon be renamed to HCL Technologies Limited, as we know it today, and would go onto revolutionize the IT landscape of India and spearhead every technological revolution ever since.
Very early in his career, the tech magnate recognized the importance of valuable partnerships for the successful running of his company. No wonder, he steered HCL Technologies Limited towards many joint alliances with companies such as Hewlett Packard, Dell, Nokia, Eriksson, British Telecom, Boeing, NEC, and Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, Cisco, UBS, and Toshiba. The partnerships helped pave the path for HCL Technologies Limited’s inception as a globally recognized technology enterprise that took the IT world by storm.
As of today, the Indian billionaire’s venture has a market capitalization worth more than $21.5 billion. Its operations span across 49 countries with a workforce of more than 153,000 trained professionals. HCL Technologies Limited is India’s third-largest software service provider and is one of the few global IT companies that have more than 40 years of experience in this field. Following Vineet Nayar’s naming as CEO of HCL Technologies Limited, Nadar limited his involvement in the day-to-day operations of the company and focused more on his philanthropic life.
Talking about philanthropy, Shiv Nadar was named in Forbes’ 48 Heroes of Philanthropy in the Asia Pacific. Thus, in 1994, he began his education-based philanthropy by establishing the Shiv Nadar Foundation with the hopes that it would transform the educational landscape in India by providing international opportunities to students who come from humble family backgrounds and remote areas and help them actualize their dreams. As of 2020, the foundation has established six institutes all over India with the help of Nadar’s $662 million worth of backing. These establishments provide need-based scholarships and cater to the academic needs of children in rural areas and have so far directly impacted the lives of over 30,000 students!
A pioneer in both business and philanthropy, the Indian billionaire has been bestowed dozens of awards and honours to his name. In 2008, the President of India presented the tech magnate with the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in India. In July of 2020, after an arduous but successful tenure as the chairperson of HCL, the 75-year-old Nadar finally retired and took a backseat with a sizeable fortune worth 23.7 billion USD that made him the only Indian in the list of the world’s top 20 richest tech billionaires. He handed over the position of chairman to his daughter Roshni Nadar Malhotra but kept his long-held title of chief strategy officer.
Shiv Nadar currently resides in New Delhi with his wife, Kiran who is an Asian Games medallist, a world-famous bridge player, and an Indian art collector, they met at an advertising agency where she first worked and soon got married. With their onerous workdays behind them, the couple currently focuses on philanthropic works and on making art more accessible to the Indian public.
Most entrepreneurs know what they want in life for early days. The hold a successful vision of the future as they work on their goals with full faith that they will be accomplished.
They are willing to put in the hard work and take calculated risks to move them towards their dream. As an entrepreneur you will face many criticisms and discouragements along the way, you need to keep focused on your vision and do whatever needs to be done.
Life as an employee is relatively easy, it takes a lot of effort and grit to become an entrepreneur. Your income is in your hands, there will be no guarantees of getting paid at on a regular basis.
The life of a entrepreneur is full of uncertainty and involves taking many risks, but the rewards can be really enjoyable too.
Not everyone is cut out to become an entrepreneur, some people like the security of being an employee. In reality this is a false sense of security as you are not in control of any decisions that the company has to make.
As an entrepreneur you are in control of your own destiny. You create the lifestyle you desire, you make your own decisions.