“Nobody, nothing and no one owes anything to you; it’s you who owe everything you want to yourself”
Sohan Babu Khatri is a founder and CEO of Three H Management, with experience ranging across a cross section of industries and sectors in Nepal as corporate business consultant and resource person for trainings and development. Having started his career as a Civil Engineer, he widened his qualification through an MBA degree in India with dual specialisation in finance and marketing, and took it further to specialise in finance and investment management through professional certification courses. He has served on the board of directors of a commercial bank for over seven years and as committee member of various board level committees.
After some experience of teaching at the Bachelors level of engineering and engineering practice, he has also been involved in academics as a lecturer and research supervisor. His experience, among others, includes contribution to the entrepreneurial development of youth in various sectors through his roles of mentor, coach, trainer, evaluator, consultant through entrepreneurial boot camps, start-up accelerator programs, related projects of development/social organisations.
In this edition of Business 360˚, Sohan Babu Khatri shares five things that have impacted his work and life
My Father is my friend, guide and philosopher. When I reflect back on my childhood days – I find that 90% of who I am today, my traits, my attributes, my attitude and my approach towards life was shaped very consciously and in a planned way by him.
A father is an influential figure in everybody’s life; but in my case, he literally carved me to become the person I am. He was not only my first academic teacher who would run his own school on his own terms at home after a tiring day at work, but was also the one who ignited my interest in painting and extra circular activities. I can never forget what he always used to tell me and today I find it to be so true – “Nobody, nothing and no one owes anything to you; it’s you who owe everything you want to yourself”. The best thing he inculcated in me was the sense of responsible independence.
My first academic failure is the biggest lesson in my life. As a young adult I don’t recall ever dreaming to be anything other than a Civil Engineer. However, even though I was good in academics, I did not pass the entrance exam of the Institute of Engineering in my first attempt and had to pursue BSc. in forestry for a semester. I had ended up having to spend six months of my time studying something that I never wanted to. I learnt the biggest lesson then – how life can be harsh, bitter, unforgiving at times. However, those six months in forestry changed me forever; from a typical cocooned Kathmanduite to a sensible youth, who got exposed to various landscapes of behaviours, cultures, stories, struggles and facets of life. I went for a second attempt on IOE more prepared and got in. That hard earned seat in BE became the only focus of my life for four years and I learnt the importance of being there in the way I would have never imagined.
MBA was a life changing decision. There was no way anybody, not even myself, could have ever convinced me to pursue a career of any type other than of becoming a Civil Engineer before 2003.
But life had other plans when I secured a scholarship for MBA – the application for which I had dropped as a fluke when accompanying a friend applying for the same scholarship to the Indian Embassy. Meanwhile in pursuit of my long term dream after BE, I had also applied for a scholarship in MSc in water resource engineering at AIT, Thailand. I was offered both scholarships on the same day – what a way for life to test you – confronted with two difficult choices! I chose the unobvious one – MBA; huge nerve chilling risky decision I never thought I would take but thank God I did. It has been rewarding since. Within a few weeks into MBA, I realised how interesting and important management lessons were. It was then that I had decided that I will lead my life as an entrepreneur, which, I am today.
My first business failure. After working in two business houses and one non-profit, I decided, at the age of 27, to start a company of my own – as a way to live my entrepreneurial dream. The business model was of a management training institute cum consulting company. I got connected with a few like-minded people who also had dreams of starting a company and with a few who saw value in the financial returns of that business model which was a rarity in Nepal then. We failed miserably – not due to lack of surfeit of dreams and market but due to lack of the capability to be profitable, lack of focus, lack of hunger to achieve and lack of strategic thinking. Since then, have failed in two other businesses – one initiated by me and another start-up where I had invested. But what I feel good about is that I bounced back every time I failed. As I reflect back today, I find I have learnt a lot: the most valuable of all being the importance of having two aspects right at the right place in the right time – business capabilities and team.
Teaching profession. My first job after engineering was that of a teacher in an engineering college and after MBA, I have been associated with the academic field as adjunct faculty of various subjects related to business and management. I make sincere effort in my teaching but there are moments where I am unsure of how much value I have been able to add to my student’s learning journey. However, I am much grateful for what my students have done for me: they have been making me a better learner and a better person. The real juice of being in this profession is being able to meet various kinds of personalities, attitudes, dispositions and thought process which offers me a wonderful opportunity to learn from people; the worthiest literature in the planet.