In the 1960s, when most engineering graduates would have settled for a government job in India, twenty four year old Mahendra Nath thought otherwise. He wanted to learn more, had a drive to excel and wanted to accomplish something big in his life. He had been weaving global ambitions since his teens and through his grit, determination and hard work, paved his way to America.
In 1964, Mahendra Nath landed in the US, with US$ 800 in his pocket and took admission in University of Minnesota to do an MS in Industrial Engineering.
And as they say, he never looked back. Over the decades, Nath built a family owned business, Nath Companies (based in Minnesota), which today operates many restaurants, multi-apartment buildings, residential rental properties and hotels. In addition, he provides management services to commercial buildings. He created almost 5,000 jobs in the process. The organization he built is based on the strong foundation of ethics, value creation, transparency and customer centricity. Something which can be traced back to his roots. “I think the business ethics, integrity, the values, respect for other human beings, talent, skill and more importantly, the ability to share, these are things which have held us in good stead and people respect us for that,” says Mahendra Nath, CEO, Nath Companies. Being an entrepreneur himself, he encourages his employees to be innovative and ambitious.
Not just that. Nath firmly believes in giving back to the community and his home country, continues to remain close to his heart. He helped develop the integrated medicine curriculum at the Northwestern Health Sciences University, education for the under-privileged and setting up health clinics in US and other parts of the world. He is among the founding members of Healing Hearts India, which provides free medical treatment to children from lower economic strata in India who are suffering from heart related ailments.
Having spent more than four decades in US, he has seen the shift in perception about India. From a time when not many did not know about the country to a point when it makes headlines in American newspapers. “Since the nineties, the whole thing has changed. Indians are respected more. And those living in the States have contributed in a big way to the perception change. Being intelligent and hardworking, Indians in US are doing well financially and they haven’t forgotten their culture,” says
He sees both India and United States as natural partners and India as the right destination for American companies to invest. “While the country must work on increasing transparency, there is no doubt that there are a lot of positives. A thriving democracy, a large English speaking population, focus on education, improving infrastructure, young population and a big market, are some of the things which make India a good investment destination”, adds
He has led delegations to India and is working closely to foster deeper economic ties between the two countries. And the Indian community in US will have to demonstrate this by walking the talk. Simply put, by investing in India. “It will take people like us to tell people over here about the country, its story and the change. It is easy to invest in India with a small business partnering with one of the Indians living here and then partnering with the company in India because the local American company would be more comfortable because they feel that we do have the know-all of doing business in India. Also, some of us still have contacts on both sides and that helps a great deal,” he concludes.