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Interview: Sonica Malhotra, Joint Managing Director, MBD Group

ST Bureau
New Delhi

This interview is a part of Startup Terminal interview series to mark the occasion of 'International Women's Day'



ST: Please tell us about yourself.

Sonica Malhotra: Born in Jalandhar and brought up in Delhi since I was five, a topper all through and DU Rank Holder, I studied B. Com at Jesus and Mary College (Delhi University) and later pursued an MBA specializing in finance from International Management Institute, New Delhi. I’ve also attended a Programme in Leadership Development (PLD) from Harvard Business School, Boston.

Sonica Malhotra,
Joint Managing Director, MBD Group
ST: Who is your biggest influence in life?

Sonica Malhotra: My father Shri Ashok Kumar Malhotra has been my role model and I have always followed his footsteps in every sphere of life. He started working at the family book shop, ‘Malhotra Book Depot’, while he was still in school. He was a leader; he was an institution in himself where he was a teacher as well as a student.  I have always looked up to him and some way or the other tried to be like him but I don’t think I will ever be as great a person as him.  He always taught us that most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all and he lived this statement throughout his life. In my father’s eyes of course we were his perfect children, his girls whose dreams he wanted to give wings to. It was his belief that made us believe in ourselves, a little more every day.

ST: What challenges do you face in your day to day professional life, if any?

Sonica Malhotra: You get to face challenges every day. It’s not too specific when/how the challenge will arise but at the same time one has to be proactive and evolve the process. Even today, when I have been working for more than a decade, I still find out new things every day- things that make me energized and excited. My mantra is one has to crack a challenge by following a procedure to achieve something.



ST: Where do you want to see yourself in next 5 years down the line?

Sonica Malhotra: Growth remains paramount for us. Nowadays, upgradation has gradually become the catch word for almost every corporate.

Just culminated MBD Steigenberger Hotels tie up and our performance for Carlson Hotel Group, we have already created a niche for ourselves in hospitality sector as one of those who were investing in Hotels. Moreover, we are one of the most showcasing hotel to get further franchise. In the next few years, we are planning to take MBD Hospitality Management to International countries. Both our F&B concepts, Made in India and Rare Easter Dining have got multiple recognitions in India and abroad. For Made in India, we are planning to venture internationally. Looking for it’s first placement in London, will target to grow in Germany.  In the upcoming years, we will manage other assets under MBD Steigenberger Hotel venture and then we aim to go global and venture into international markets.

We started with SDP and MDP programme internally and we have been able to get good talent. We are going to start our hotel school; land and structure is ready, we are working on the accreditations part. This will bridge our manpower requirement for Hospitality vertical and we will train freshers as per our requirement. Next big step is MBD University, that’s our dream project.



ST: What is your message to the readers on ‘International Women’s Day’?

Sonica Malhotra: Seize every opportunity, close off no options. Earlier the mindset of people was that business is meant only for men and our social norms discouraged women from rising to the top. However, this thinking has changed now and after a threshold limit, no one cares that you are a woman or a man, you just have to prove yourself.

Inspiration alone is not enough to successfully carry out the work functionalities. You have to get out of the mould and put extra effort to prove yourself. I would suggest that don’t get into man-woman world; it doesn’t exist. Instead of meeting other people’s expectations, you have to follow your own goal and act accordingly. Sometimes you have to be extremely headstrong.

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