Harshavardhan Neotia Chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group
As a child, I used to help my ‘Barima’ with gardening and was introduced to all art forms pretty early in life that created a lasting impression on my psyche. My artistic and cultural inclinations helped me express myself through architecture, landscaping and art while executing many of the group’s projects. These elements have had a profound impact on overall sense of aesthetics, a key aspect of real estate development.
Ambuja Neotia, one of the prominent corporate houses headquartered in Kolkata with its forte in real estate, hospitality, healthcare and education has been an integral part of Kolkata’s business scenario for several decades. Heredity and family environment play a vital role in the development of an individual. Both are interrelated and interconnected. My grandparents, parents and uncles have greatly contributed to both personal as well as business growth. Besides, I have been greatly influenced by reading the works of Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda.
I had just completed college in the year 1982 when I heard a friend of my father talking about selling his house, as he was moving to Mumbai. He wanted someone to redevelop the property. Even though I didn’t have any idea about real estate, I offered to build a house there and two years later, the multi-storied apartment block came off well. The very success inspired me immensely, paving the way for a series of projects.
I am indeed inspired by Henry Ford’s saying, “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”
Conclave was my first commercial venture in Kolkata in 1986. Bengal Ambuja Housing Development Ltd was incorporated in 1993 in a JV with the West Bengal Housing Board to develop mass-scale housing and other infrastructural projects. A public-private partnership (PPP) to promote social housing, the company marked a major milestone in real-estate development.
Our award-winning maiden project, Udayan, a 25-acre township on the E M Bypass, was a pioneering venture in the social housing sector. The project was declared a model housing project by the Union Government. This early endeavor focusing on our key objective – delivering value for money and changing the way people live – inspired all our subsequent real-estate projects, residential as well as our commercial City Centre projects and FfortRaichak, Kolkata’s first luxury weekend getaway.
The real-estate projects included Ulhas in Bardhaman, Urvashi in Durgapur, Utsa in New Town, Kolkata, Uttorayon in Siliguri, Upoban in Santiniketan, Ujjwala in New Town, Kolkata and Upohar, off the EM Bypass. The group lately launched Utalika – The Condoville, a 545-apartment complex offering varied amenities in Mukundapur, off EM Bypass which is all set to change the Kolkata cityscape.
I tend to believe more in the ideology of working towards a better and bigger goal rather than indulging in fierce competition. Although competition can be frowned upon, things have changed in recent years. The company has made a successful foray in retail infrastructure with City Centre Malls. The group presently has projects in Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Patna (Bihar), Sikkim and in Punjab in addition to many projects in West Bengal.
Social media and the internet have opened up a world of collaborating, sharing and caring, making many businesses more approachable, friendly and welcoming. And, therefore, I firmly believe that there is opportunity for all and it is better to embrace the competition and get to know them. I truly believe in the principle of being aware of the competition and not being obsessed about it.
Harshavardhan’s name is synonymous with one of the greatest industrialist families in the country. He is credited with not only carrying his family heritage forward, but also creating a marquee of his own. The company he started over two decades back was the result of his passion for architecture.