- Programme: Financing the Entrepreneurial Business
- Nationality: Sri Lankan
- Job Post-programme: Director, Hirdaramani International Group
Since 2000 Nikhil has been a director of his family firm in Sri Lanka, which designs, manufactures and exports clothing to internationally renowned clients around the world. He has an MBA from Imperial College London and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University in Boston, USA. Nikhil attended the Financing the Entrepreneurial Business programme in 2012.
I came to the Financing the Entrepreneurial Business programme at an exciting time in my career. Things were changing in Sri Lanka, with increasing possibilities for businesses to develop in new directions. I already had an MBA and knew what I was doing in sales and marketing, but I didn’t have the knowledge to assess and value the opportunities that might come our way. It was clear that I was going to have to learn, and fast. I’d already done my MBA in London, where I’d heard excellent things about London Business School, and I’d long wanted to experience what the School has to offer. This being a short, intense programme also made it possible for me to take time off to attend.
Valuation is key
A key insight I took away from the programme was an awareness of how to think through all aspects of valuation, and the various methods you can bring to bear on the process. It was an eye-opener to see how companies can be valued in so many different ways. From my own experience I knew how to place value on our factories, our products, our stock; but how do you do the same for a company with no physical assets – like an IT business? I’d completed my MBA before the tech revolution and, for me, it was crucial to see for myself how drastically the business landscape has changed in the last twenty years.
Culture and diversity
It was hugely valuable to have tutors from different backgrounds, who each brought different strengths to the programme – the combination of academic rigour and practical experience made the learning genuinely relevant and applicable. One major highlight was when we were introduced to individuals involved in real-life case studies – which were drawn from all over the world – and were able to ask them questions and discuss their experiences. To have the studies we were working on come to life like that really brought the learning into focus.
The diversity of my peer group was inspiring too, with students from Namibia, Jamaica, East Asia and Europe each bringing their own perspectives to the classroom. The group project, where we had to work together to structure a buyout, highlighted how culture plays such an important part in making deals and understanding how to value a business. There was no “correct answer” – the crucial learning was how we could work with each other to come up with a solution.
My career path has taken some twists and turns since I completed the programme two years ago. I have been based in London since then, and in that time I’ve built on the learning I gained by involving myself in enterprises that have not only been hugely satisfying personally, but which I know will support my business in the long-term.
For just over a year I’ve been on the regional board of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation – which currently has 10,000 members globally – developing courses and events to support entrepreneurs. I’m involved in various charities too, one of which involves mentoring entrepreneurs from underprivileged backgrounds as part of The Prince’s Trust. A significant amount of the knowledge that I share has come directly out of what I learned on the programme, together with the practical experience I have achieved throughout the course of my career.
It sounds odd to say it now, but I was perhaps a little fearful when I came to the programme. I didn’t have the knowledge, or perhaps more importantly the guts, to call myself an entrepreneur – but in that one week I definitely learned how to think like one. A lot has happened since I completed the programme and I will always count it as marking the start of me becoming who I am today – a businessman with the confidence, knowledge and leadership skills to work with and support other entrepreneurs.