Thrust into the family business at a young age, Prasai has come a long way.
--BY AASHIYANA ADHIKARI
The celebrated French fashion designer Christian Louboutin once said, “If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.” Shikher Prasai, managing director of Nataraj Tours and Travels (NTT) abides by this philosophy of Louboutin. For the last two decades, Prasai has been running his family-owned business which was established in 1967. He believes one should do what you love and give it your absolute best. “Whether it is business or baseball, if you do not love what you are doing and cannot give it your best, get out. Life is too short. You will be an old man before you know it,” Prasai says.
Born in 1978, Prasai joined his family business when he was just 21. “I was in Sydney when I got a call from home, they told me that my father had passed away,” recalls Prasai, adding, “I took a flight to Nepal immediately and realised that I now had to take up the family business. I was young and unprepared to run a company without my father being around but it was something that had to be done.”
Prasai completed his secondary schooling from Graded English Medium School (GEMS) and finished his high schooling from Modern Indian School. He then went to Sydney, Australia to pursue his undergraduate degree in Business and Tourism. While growing up, Prasai never wanted to do anything else other than join his family business. “I was born into this business, I saw my parents working, travelling and meeting new people, which fascinated me a lot,” he says, adding, “Maybe I would have joined the business later if the situation allowed but I would have done nothing else besides what I am doing now.”
A father of two children, Prasai spends most of his free time with his family and takes a break from work every year to travel with them. He describes himself as a people’s person and can be seen socialising with people during his time off. Prasai is also a travel enthusiast and loves travelling to countries rich in culture and history. A man with many feathers in his hat, Prasai has been an active member of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) since 2004. He joined EO at a stage when there were only seven to eight members. EO is a global peer-to-peer network of over 12,000 influential business owners with 160 chapters in 50 countries. Joining EO was not something Prasai had planned; however, it was not an opportunity he wanted to miss. He initially joined EO intending to socialise and expand his network. Founded in 1987, EO is a catalyst that enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, contributing to greater success in business and beyond. EO Nepal, which was established in 2003, is one of the 160 chapters of the global organisation. Currently, it has 61 members.
“I have been a part of EO for fifteen years and I feel it has helped me grow personally and professionally in various aspects of my life,” mentions Prasai, adding, “For me, my forum is the best part of EO where I get to learn a lot of things through peer-peer learning.” In addition, he was the youngest chairman of PATA’s (Pacific Asia travel and tourism) Nepal Chapter, from 2006 to 2008. He is now an executive committee member of Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) and a member of the Young Presidents Organization, Nepal Chapter.
According to Prasai, being the second generation in any family business is a tough job and stepping into his father’s shoes was extremely demanding for him. “Honestly, to run and take over the company in my father’s absence was tough because of various factors. Firstly, I would say I was not ready to operate the entire company on my own mentally, and secondly, it was during the time of the Maoist insurgency in 1999 when many business houses were shutting down and it was challenging to operate a travel company.”
He recalls that there was a point in time where he had to let go of staff members that had been working for the business for over twenty-five years. “Letting go of people who had been associated with Natraj since its inception was a challenging task for me but we had to cut down on staff to sustain our business.”
He has only one regret in his life, that he could not spend as much time with his father as he wanted to. His father’s absence has made him realise the importance of a family and he now tries to spend as much time with his children and wife. Achieving many things early on in his life has not stopped him from further working towards growing his business. “Earlier, our main business was from people coming into the country and ticketing but with the increase in the disposable income of Nepali people, we now operate tour packages, cruise trips among many other services for Nepali tourists who travel abroad for holidays.” Five years down the line, Prasai plans to expand his business, tie up with more travel destinations, and come up with new holiday packages to cater to the needs of Nepali travel enthusiasts.
“I probably wouldn’t do anything differently if I had to do it again. Every little thing that happens to you, good or bad, becomes a little piece of the puzzle of who you become. Every successful person you read about - Warren Buffett, Bill Gates - they all say the same thing. ‘Do what you love.’ I know I did,” mentions Prasai.