Subhekchya Timothy grew up surrounded by books and is one among three sisters. The elder one is a dermatologist and the younger sister is at university, thus shouldering the family business fell on her. “Since it is a family run property, as long as I can remember while growing up, I was always at Ekta Books. I have always been around books. Moreover, there used to be a small crib among the books at the store where I used to sleep when I was small,” recalls Subhekchya.
One of the fundamental duties she directs at Ekta revolves around publication. Currently, she is busy working on the new curriculum. As per government directive, the new curriculum for grades 1 to 12 will be implemented by 2080. “There is a lot to be done. We are very occupied with it. There are other projects also, something digital,” she shares on a guarded note.
Ekta, which celebrates its 40 years in business next year, publishes all subject textbooks for school level and some for higher levels. They also have an extension in academics and children literature. Dictionary publication was their 25-year-old project and presently, they have 12 series of Nepali-English, English-Nepali, Nepali-Nepali dictionaries and more to come; something the publishing house is proud of.
Subhekchya completed her MBA from ACE Institute two years ago. She was actively involved with Storytellers Nepal for almost four years. “Prashant Manandhar, the founder, is my teacher. When he initiated it, he asked 4-5 of us to work with him; that’s how we started it together. I was in the final year of my undergrad at that time. I used to look after logistics and event management.”
Subhekchya’s has a predilection for music which she credits to her genes from her maternal side. Her mother, Salomi Timothy is a known singer in the Nepali Christian community. “As long as I can remember books, I remember singing. I sing in choir and I have a band called Emunark. We are more into gospel music,” she informs.
During her conversation with Ujeena Rana, Subhekchya Timothy shares the five aspects of her life that have helped shape who she has become today.
Running a family business
My father, Ram Chandra Timothy, believes that one needs to learn every feature of the business. And it is indeed essential to understand different standpoints; from sales to customer dealing to administration. At Ekta,I started with customer service as National Sales Coordinator. Learning about the production aspect of the business kept me occupied. Now I am developing my strength in the same, publication.
When you are young and recently graduated, your mind oozes with ideas and you think that there is so much that you want to do. And we witness events where schisms grow between generations. Nonetheless, the secret to a successful family-run enterprise is communication. When you listen to the other person and everything is on the table, you get the bigger picture. More importantly, at the end of the day, it is all for the company so you must pick out what strategically works for the company. That is how it should work. A concoction of the new generation’s perspective and the experiences of the older generation works best.
Many of my relatives congratulate my father on his good fortune on having a daughter to take care of the family business but I know the pressure that comes with the job. I know that I have big shoes to fill. It’s more than about whether I wanted to do this or not. When I travel around the country so much of what my father has done and achieved and the effort of all these years he has put into the education sector fills me with a sense of pride. I can’t ever shake the feeling of the impact he has had on people’s lives. I need to continue his legacy. Even if it was not my interest, I always knew that it makes sense for me to work here.
We were handed certain values and values do not change. I would thus want to continue being guided by them. And while we cater to the needs of the present time, we will continue to be guided by our internal core values.
I am my own person
I wanted to be a doctor when I was growing up. I was not always certain that I wanted to get into the family business. However, this is not to say that I sacrificed myself at the altar of the family’s interest. In retrospect, I was always around my parents; I was on the sidelines watching my father; I used to accompany my family on business trips. I was just there. Definitely, there were other interests but it is just that my upbringing and my personality converged at Ekta. Stars aligned and I happened to take up the job. I suppose the writing was on the wall.
Talks on diversification is ongoing. Even though education sector is our primary concern, we want to explore other business verticals like agriculture and tourism or agro-tourism. I am personally excited about the new things we want to usher into our family business.
We have not made our plans public yet; we are still tweaking our ideas. However, West Bengal, India, where our books business is already in place, has witnessed our first venture into tourism business. There is a lovely village called Sitong where we are developing homestays and agro business will follow suit. And at the head office in Siliguri we have Yaksha Holiday Home, a guest house hotel. Slowly, we will penetrate the agro-tourism section in Nepal as well.
Best life decision
Once I got an opportunity to teach teenagers and children at our church. Rather than about teaching a particular course subject like English or Maths, since it was a Sunday school run by the church, I used to teach parables to the kids. The experience brought me closer to understanding them, understanding the next generation. And during certain instances while dealing with them, I got to introspect.
What delighted me the most about dealing with children was their innocence. Of course, children are mischievous by nature. But the experience exposed me to children with different personalities and taught me to not be judgmental but to cater to their needs and curiosity accordingly. They are fertile soil and you are planting on them and eventually something good will come out of this generation. I thought that teaching was a genuine act that I could do.
Greatest source of inspiration
I draw inspiration from nature. If you observe it closely, everything in nature falls into place eventually. It gets hurt, it heals, it grows again. It takes its time. It calms and encourages me to believe that everything has its own time. Nature is a great teacher.
I travel for business and pleasure and every time I visit a different place, I experience something new about life. It is pretty relaxing for me to witness nature and the life lessons it imparts. Mountains, oceans, seasons, day and night, everything about nature schools us about something valuable.
Promoting reading culture
To know that someone else is out there who shares similar feelings or viewpoints is a great relief. And that is what books do to people. People find a sense of belongingness in books. Besides, because you read, you grow the habit of listening. You observe, analyse and it helps in communication.
Avid readers will always love books. There are certain people who are into music or movies or photography and don’t have time for reading; however, whatever genre you have interest in, there is a book on it. When people gravitate to a certain genre, they want to quench their thirst for knowledge and books avail that.