Harikrishnan Nair, Chairman of CII’s Kerala State Council and President, Western India Cashew Co. advises students at SCMS Cochin

Students of SCMS Cochin recently had the privilege of listening to and gaining from the experiences of Mr. Harikrishnan Nair, Chairman of CII’s Kerala State Council and President, Western India Cashew Co. The seasoned professional is also the man behind the brand of snack foods, Wenders, which is the first branded snack from India to be retailed in supermarkets across Europe and the US. As he talked about the development of his brand and offered insight into the industry, he focused on the all important concept of “Change”.

With a number of technological advancements in the market, change is inevitable and is happening at a very fast rate. According to Mr. Nair innovation requires change and that’s something he would know a thing or two about after being the innovator with his Western India Cashew Co. There he worked on cleaning of cashew tips that led to profits for the company. Speaking of change he said, “To effectively respond to change one has to do in depth research about the given problem. Perspective matters, one has to think about a given problem from the point of view of another human being.”

Mr. Nair also had sound advice for those who might want to turn entrepreneurs in the future. He asked them not to jump into entrepreneurship just because it had been a goal for them. “You should try and get a few years’ experience in the industry. You need to have clear ideas and being an entrepreneur cannot be your primary goal.” He then revealed that the cashew nuts business was a family enterprise with primary markets in the UK, US, EU and Africa. With his innovative ideas he managed to take it to a whole new level altogether.

According to him being open to change helped in his endeavors. He is also happy about the fact that he had the experience as a professional to fall back on whenever needed. “Innovators and entrepreneurs need to constantly think on their feet and keep in touch with the changing market environment. They also need to change effectively when the time arises. These traits that I had imbibed during my days as a professional helped me in my entrepreneurial goals,” he stated before going on to reveal what he thinks is integral to one’s entrepreneurial dreams.

Mr. Nair believes that before taking the plunge, one should sit down and consider what’s really important for their business. “At the back of every business model there should be the idea that you are creating value for consumers. Perspective matters and putting yourself in other person’s shoes can solve most of the problems faced by entrepreneurs and marketers. You can identify how a business prospect might fare in the next five years and that can give you an idea of the outcome,” he added practically and drove his point home.

Finally he warned the students of the risks and advised them to not make mistakes that could lead to repercussions that would be insurmountable. The highly engaging sessions ended with Mr. Nair fielding questions from the audience. He then expressed his final thoughts on change when he said, “Change is the current trend; but change responsibly and not just for the sake of change. Co-dependence, co-operation is more valuable than just competition. Fresh management graduates should be willing to work from the ground up without showing any negative attitude.” Now that’s advice that all management aspirants could do well following as they set out on their career paths.