Who is the entrepreneurial inspiration in your life? Who makes you think anything is possible? And, above all, uses their entrepreneurial talents to do good for the world?
Asked the same question, aspiring hospitality student Fiona Juna Maclagan penned a heartfelt and beautifully expressed answer – one that was good enough to earn her an all-expenses-paid trip to visit our campus in Switzerland.
Fiona’s hero entrepreneurs are two people from different backgrounds who both found their calling in Asia. One will be familiar to anybody who keeps an eye on the global rich list; the other a familiar figure around the Maclagan kitchen table!
Mukesh Ambani – the “king” of Indian business
Reliance Industries is today one of Asia’s most powerful corporations; thanks mainly to the entrepreneurial vision of Mukesh Ambani, who took what his father started and transformed it into a business valued at more than $150 billion.
“Mukesh Ambani made his fortune from his father’s small dream of the Reliance Industries Limited, which grew through determination and hope for the future,” Fiona wrote. “He followed his father’s footsteps, never gave up and strived to be at the top, even with the already established competitive industries such as Tatas, Birlas and 43 other companies, were leaders in their fields.”
For Fiona, the story of Mukesh’s relatively humble beginnings is a source of genuine encouragement. “This is very inspiring, because coming from Nepal, and not having a particularly wealthy background, gives me a sense of hope and a pathway for the future.
“I can see that in order to be successful, or in order to be at the top, you don’t have to be ridiculously rich; you just need the guts to never give up and always have a picture in mind of where you want to be and work hard to enable your dream to come true.”
Douglas Maclagan – helping the disadvantaged
Fiona didn’t have to cast the net too far to find her second inspiring figure. It is her father Douglas, and in particular his commitment to the wellbeing of Nepalese children, including a socially responsible luxury hospitality business.
Having fallen in love with Nepal after trekking there, Douglas Maclagan settled in the country, in order to contribute something meaningful in the area of education.
“He worked with the government to assess the child and maternal mortality, because this was very high in some regions. He trekked to the most rural villages in Nepal for this assessment where he met his wife, Insuba Tamang, who was also working in the same sector,” Fiona wrote.
Appalled by the mortality rate among under-5s, Douglas helped the government to come up with the idea of creating early childhood development facilitators, where trained nurses and health workers and teachers to help the children and also support the women in each village.
“My father made the decision to dedicate his life to helping disadvantaged children. This idea has been implemented throughout the country since then. He was honored with the Gusi Peace Prize in 2004, the Unsung Heroes Award in 2008 and the 2009 Health Award. He has expanded his reach across Nepal, using his first World of Children grant as a platform to raise nearly $6 million to provide more than 30,000 of the region’s most vulnerable children with nutrition, healthcare, education, and a brand-new hospitality vocational training school that opened in 2017.”
In 2013, Douglas ensured that the world of luxury hospitality could also be a force for good. Together with Insuba Tamang, they established Pavilions Himalayas, an eco-friendly resort in Nepal which is a branch of the luxury hospitality business Pavilions Hotels & Resorts. Around half the profits from the hotel go towards good causes, including the children’s charity Douglas founded, called Right4Children.
Fiona’s essay concludes, “These two entrepreneurs have a great respect in my heart. Mukesh Ambani is a profit maker and has shown his hard work and determination through his success, while Douglas Maclagan, my father, has shown me that you have a duty to the world, whether it be socially, environmentally or helping to save and protect the lives of the unfortunate.
“The ethics and values I have learnt from the stories of their lives, is that if you have a vision in your head of what you want from life, then strive to reach there – but never forget that as human beings, we have a role to contribute to the world, in order to help make the world a better and peaceful place for everyone.”
We congratulate Fiona and look forward to welcoming her to Switzerland as soon as conditions for travel allow!