Chairman and CEO
--BY AASHIYANA ADHIKARI
“Life never works out the way you had always planned and dreamt it. But I love what my life has turned into,” says Sulav Budhathoki, Chairman and CEO of Islington College. Always a below average student, Budhathoki had dreamt of being a musician but to his own surprise, he ended up as an entrepreneur in education.
Born in 1977 in a middle class family, Budhathoki admits that he was a very naughty and mischievous child. “My brother was always a good student but I hardly passed the exams,” he says. “So, I was the one who was told off a lot while growing up.”
Budhathoki completed his undergraduate degree in management from Minbhavan Campus. Soon after he was drawn to the vast field of information technology and completed his post-graduate studies in IT from India. Immediately after returning back from India, he started teaching computer science at Informatics College (now known as Islington College).
He soon noticed that Nepali youths were more and more wanting to go abroad and he jumped on the trend. “After teaching for some time, I started getting offers to go to abroad. Nevertheless, I started to realise that I needed to do something in the country's education sector.” He didn’t notice at that point in time that this decision would change his life forever.
Back in 2003, Informatics College was experiencing huge losses and the owners wanted to shut down the college. This was when Budhathoki took a huge leap and proposed that he should take over the college. “I had grown attached to the college and when I heard that it was on the verge of shutting down, I thought I should do something to bring this college to a certain level,” he says, adding, “After a series of negotiations and agreements, I took over the management of Informatics College and then the rest as they say is history.”
His ambition to create empowered young people created a benchmark in the country's private education history. He was the first to bring international standard education into the country. The college got its new name Islington College in 2009. The college now is directly affiliated with universities in the United Kingdom. It directly partners with London Metropolitian University for bachelor degrees in Computer Networking and IT Security and Multimedia Technologies programmes. Being the first and only academic institution in Nepal to run a UK university undergraduate programme, the students at Islington can choose to study at both the Kathmandu Campus and London Met’s North London Campus located in the UK’s capital.
Budhathoki defines himself as a person who is not bound by any routine. He says that his work itself doesn’t allow him to be a routine person. Currently, he looks after five colleges- one each in Biratnagar, Pokhara and Itahari and two inside the Kathmandu valley. This has led him to become a frequent flyer. “I have to catch immediate flights if there are any problems in any of my colleges. So I have to rush from one city to another,” he says.
Challenges are a part of anyone’s life but Budhathoki, in the early days used to hire a professional to tackle his work problems. But now, he feels that a person cannot run away from his own problems. “After working for three to four years, I realised that I could only rely on myself to overcome the challenges in front of me. So now I take any challenge as an opportunity, as I have learnt over the years that there is always an opportunity hidden in any obstacle,” Budhathoki shares. Very good at handling pressure and stress he says that the rewards come from the challenges themselves. “When someone starts breaking through the obstacles and challenges by themselves the pressure and stress automatically wear off,” he says.
Budhathoki has 200 employees in his company Innovate Nepal Group, an investment holding company, which is the parent organisation of Islington College, Herald College Kathmandu, Merryland College, Biratnagar and Itahari International College.
Not many people know that he is the second trained professional in Nepal to complete the Oracle Certification Program. He got certified in 2002 as an Oracle Database Administrator. He is indeed a person with multiple skills.
An amazing father to two lovely children, Budhathoki regrets not giving enough time to his family. “I have been married for 10 years now and have two children but I have been so busy in my work all these years that I missed the golden years of my children growing up,” he bemoans.
In this world where everything is changing on a daily basis one needs to stay updated with the changing times. Budhathoki who is always busy with his work has a mentor in the shape of a Dr Benson Soon from Singapore who keeps him updated on a regular basis. “As I don’t have much time to study vigorously he guides me thoroughly,” he mentions.
Always craving for more and creating new milestones, Budhathoki plans to expand his colleges in Kohalpur, Butwal and Chitwan in the next five years.