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Roshni Nadar Malhotra, CEO of $7B HCL, is ensuring poor children receive world-class education

Sharika Nair
6th Feb 2017
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CEO, philanthropist, mother - HCL's Roshni Nadar Malhotra is truly an inspiring personality

Roshni Nadar is the classic heiress. As the only child of IT giant HCL's founder Shiv Nadar and his wife Kiran, she was predestined to take over the reins of the empire her father built painstakingly over three decades. Today, she might be the CEO of a large organisation but she is also aware of her privilege as a person. She gives high priority to the philanthropic work carried out by the family’s not-for-profit Shiv Nadar Foundation. Between managing business and social responsibility, Roshni also has her work-life equation cut out. She is the doting mother of two little boys, one of them born just a month back.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra HCL
Roshni Nadar, CEO of HCL

Roshni takes personal interest in the work done by the Shiv Nadar Foundation.

To me, giving is much, much more than just charity or signing a cheque. We make long-term investments in people’s lives, through education and arts. I’m in this because I get to be a part of someone else’s life, someone else’s journey of becoming what they have the potential to become.

says 34-year-old Roshni.

Rise of the CEO

Roshni grew up in Delhi and is an alumna of Vasant Valley School. She graduated from NorthWestern University, US, majoring in Communication with a focus on media, and went on to do her Master’s in Business Administration with a major in Social Enterprise Management from the Kellogg School of Management.

Before joining her father’s empire, Roshni worked at Sky News UK and CNN America as a news producer. After a brief stint in media and communications, she joined HCL and spent time understanding the business. In 2009, at 28, Roshni became the CEO of HCL Corporation. In 2013, just a few months after delivering her elder son, she returned to work. This this time too, Roshni will be getting back to work after a brief break.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra HCL
Roshni Nadar at a Shiv Nadar Foundation event

Over the last few years, Roshni spearheaded a diversification strategy for the IT services bellwether. HCL, which raked in revenues of $6.4 billion for the year ended June 2016, also has a distribution and IT solutions arm called HCL Infosystems. In 2014, with Roshni at the helm, HCL incubated a healthcare business and in 2015, launched HCL TalentCare, a skills training company.

The VidyaGyan Leadership Academy

But the work done at Shiv Nadar Foundation is the one that has a very special place in Roshni’s heart. Roshni’s parents as well as her husband, Shikhar Malhotra, support her in the Foundation’s work. Roshni personally spent a significant amount of time launching the VidyaGyan initiative, which provides free education to students from underprivileged backgrounds.

Abdul Kalam
Former President Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam speaking VidyaGyan

VidyaGyan, started in 2009, is described as a leadership academy for meritorious students from underprivileged sections in rural Uttar Pradesh. The academy aims to nurture future leaders from rural India who can act as change catalysts for their communities.

Says Roshni,

I've been exposed to philanthropy through my parents over the last 20 years. But the start of my personal giving journey began in 2008, when I returned to India from the business school in the US. I remember being in a discussion about starting leadership academies for gifted children from rural India, and my whole point was that philanthropy aside, it would be a very exciting entrepreneurial venture for me, something I could do on my own. That's how the journey really began.

VidyaGyan handpicks the best of rural children from families with an annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh through admission exams and nurtures them in a world-class residential learning environment to bring them at par with their urban counterparts.

This year, the first batch of VidyaGyan students appeared for their CBSE class XII boards and had a 100 percent pass rate. Of the 187 students who wrote their board examinations, 139 scored above 80 percent, of which 53 scored above 90 percent.

Roshni was conferred the prestigious NDTV Young Philanthropist - Indian of the Year award in 2014 and Business Today featured her in its Most Powerful Women in India Inc. list in 2016.

Roshni is where she is due to the privilege of her birth, so it is commendable that she is levelling the field by ensuring that children born without a silver spoon in their mouth do not lose out on opportunities to make it big in their lives.

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