Meet Shivani Malhotra – an award-winning seasoned HR & Learning specialist with over 17 years of experience in various senior HR positions at reputed Indian and Multinational Companies in India & abroad. Her successful career in HR led to her receiving numerous awards which ultimately got her recognized amongst “20 Women Entrepreneurs driving the growth of Modern India” by The Global Hues Magazine.
Having worked in prestigious companies such as DCM Shriram Ltd, Yum! Brands (Parent Company of Pizza Hut & KFC) & KPMG (Qatar & Bahrain), Shivani started her own venture, Positive Vibes Consulting, in 2016, a fast-growing HR & Training consulting firm based out of Gurgaon. Positive Vibes was awarded “The Startup Excellence Award – 2020” and recognized as one of the most promising startups doing path-breaking work by HR Success Talks in 2020. Under her leadership, the organization, Positive Vibes has successfully incubated programs on Self Defence for Women across various corporations in India.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Shivani Malhotra: Well my story began when I passed out of the B – School. Like any other young graduate, I was looking forward to starting a rocking corporate career! And rocking it was! In my corporate career of almost 13 years, I had the opportunity to work in diverse industries such as Manufacturing, Hospitality, FMCG & Consulting and with some of the best mentors in the HR fraternity, I owe my success to my mentors. However, in 2016, the entrepreneurial bug bit me and I decided to give up a lucrative corporate career to start something from scratch! That’s me! I like action! Monotony is something that I don’t find energizing at all! Though a very difficult decision back then as the lure of the paycheque at the end of the month was tempting, but somewhere deep down I had the belief that I’m fully capable of creating something of my own, nurturing it, and watching it grow & do well. And thanks to the almighty, it has been a surreal journey since then! A journey that I have truly enjoyed and relished!
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Shivani Malhotra: Any startup has its challenges. And we had ours too! When I started as a Trainer & HR Consultant in 2016, most people did not know me because one important thing that I had always ignored in my corporate career was – Networking! I always thought it’s important to do internal networking (in the company that you work) and I did pretty well there. But what I did not realize was that to be a successful entrepreneur, one needs to have a strong network. I faced rejection at the beginning with people not taking my calls, not replying to my emails, or simply hanging up on me. Those were challenging times that made me think about whether I have taken the right step. But I took it as an opportunity to work even harder. I started expanding my network, creating a social media presence, showcasing the quality of my work and testimonials from my clients. I always knew I was great at my work, but I did not know how to communicate that to the world. Slowly I started getting more work – All through word of mouth. And today, I no longer have to scout for work. It comes from references of clients or mentees who have benefited immensely from our services. All this happened because I always told myself – Giving up is NOT an option!
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Shivani Malhotra: From my experience, I have seen a lot of entrepreneurs starting off the journey with a lot of energy & passion but somewhere down the line, the passion subsides and dejection takes over, especially in businesses where the gestation period is slightly longer.
My advice to all entrepreneurs, based on my personal experiences would be as follows:
- Make sure you have financially secured yourself to take an entrepreneurial plunge especially if you are leaving a well-paying secured job. . Returns are slow and not always guaranteed!
- Keep your overheads low: Begin with a modest budget and look for alternate revenue sources quickly to scale up
- Collaboration is the key to success these days – Scale up your business as soon as you can by exploring collaborations and expanding your network so that you are not under financial liabilities for long
- Innovate and continuously adapt your offerings to the market need else you will become redundant in no time!
- Keep the resilience – Entrepreneurship is all about ups and downs. Keep the patience and the strong will to bounce back from a plateau in the hope that you will be surging the mountains again !
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Shivani Malhotra: Well, our business is completely moved to an online platform! We realized that if we continue to run the business the way we are doing pre-pandemic very soon it will be time to put the shutter down! Technology is the way forward! And for us, it has proved to be a boon. We are no longer restricted by geographical boundaries as far as acquiring new clients is concerned! Our certification courses & training programs have participants from all across the globe, something that we never saw prior to the pandemic. The very fact that we adapted to the changing business environment around us quickly by leveraging technology has helped the business gain momentum in these crucial times. We actually won the Startup Excellence Award by HR Success Talks in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, for the innovative & path-breaking work being done by us during these crucial times.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Shivani Malhotra: Well – We believe that WE are our own competition! Hence we strive to do better than yesterday every single day! While it’s good to know what the competition is doing, what makes us stand out is the differentiated value add that we give to our clients. The Motto of our company is “Very Superior Quality Work at affordable prices” as we operate largely in a market where customer mindset is largely to seek “Value for Money ‘. Quality of work is “Non-Negotiable” for us – whether it is our certification course content, training interventions, or HR consulting projects for our clients, we don’t mind going the extra mile to absolutely delight our customers and nurture a lifelong relationship with them based on mutual trust! That’s how we are able to distinguish ourselves & stand out from the competition
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
- Empowering Leadership Style & Leading from the front: I believe in taking people along in my journey as a leader. I also believe that creating a transparent, open & fearless environment where employees, customers, and all stakeholders have the freedom to challenge, question & be heard is extremely important and healthy for any leader to be grounded and be aware of the “true” pulse in the organization. Being a people’s person- Building & nurturing lifelong relationships is what I truly enjoy
- Humility: Though I’m very proud of my achievements and awards, I do not let that get to my head. I believe the more senior one becomes, the more humble they should be as they are seen as role models by many people around them. Dignity & Respect to even the junior most people in the system is what really builds respect for a leader in an organization.
- Action Orientation: I am a very action-oriented person who likes to explore doing new things with speed, agility & extensive planning. These traits have really helped me in successfully diversifying the offerings at Positive Vibes in a short period of time.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Shivani Malhotra: When I started as an entrepreneur, I did not realize the importance of personal branding and never really focussed on it too much. This was one of the reasons why we struggled in the first few years. But once I realized how important it is to have a personal brand and be known as a thought leader in your respective area of business, I started working consciously towards the same.
Personal Brand is how people perceive you and hence your organization. In today’s time, I believe it is the responsibility of every leader, especially the ones running startups to build their personal brand not only for their own benefit but to take their business to newer heights. This is because generally, people consider a business to be as good as the leader, who is at the helm of affairs. A personal brand helps a leader to infuse in their customers and the stakeholders a sense of trust, credibility & excellence about themselves and their business & its offerings as well. Hence my advice for all entrepreneurs is – Brand “YOU” leads to greater brand equity for your business.
How would you define “leadership”?
Shivani Malhotra: Leadership to me is the ability to inspire people, take them along in your journey, motivate them to give their best while nurturing and developing them to become a better version of themselves each & every day. Leadership is not about “Go and Do it”. It’s about – “Let’s Go and do it “. A true leader is one who empowers his/her people to think fearlessly, challenge openly & express themselves honestly. It is someone who fosters trust in the team, enjoys their successes, and owns up their failures – Someone who always has their back!
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
- Have a purpose for yourself. Honestly introspect yourself and identify your strengths – do what you love to do but do it with 100 percent commitment & focus. A lot of times I have seen youngsters starting a business venture with too much enthusiasm and then leaving it in between because it didn’t turn out to be the way they expected it to be.
- Have Patience. Like they say Rome wasn’t built in a day. Likewise, anything that you start doesn’t give instant returns. We know these are the times of instant coffee, instant popcorn, instant money from the ATM but a venture takes time and a lot of hard work to take off. Don’t give up if you face the first failure.
- Don’t be afraid of Failures – In life one of the key qualities that any young entrepreneur MUST work on is – Developing Resilience – The Ability to bounce back from failure. It’s OK to fail. Don’t tell yourself, failure is not an option because when you fail you get up and then again you fail and again get up, and finally it makes you an individual who is ready to take on any challenge. And that’s when you finally start experiencing success.
- Be the master of your game- Get into details of your field or subject. Develop an eye for detail in whatever you decide to do that will help you in delivering quality work and keep you ahead of the competition
- Last but not least, believe in yourselves. Don’t look at affirmations from the outside world – from your friends, colleagues, relatives.. Look at an affirmation from your own self. Be your best motivator and your strongest critic and strive to be the best version of yourself
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Shivani Malhotra: “The Best Project that you will ever work on is YOU”. That’s my mantra in life. Something that has helped me evolve as an individual and entrepreneur. My endeavor is to constantly work on becoming the best version of myself. I consider myself to be my most formidable competition, my strongest ally, and admirer as well as my strongest critic.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Shivani Malhotra for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Shivani Malhotra or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.