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How business jets helped TOPSGRUP and Shield grow?

Read our exclusive interview with Executive Chairman, Dr Richie Nanda about how being able to travel at a moment’s notice is vital for his business.

Rani Singh   |   15th December 2014
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Rani Singh Rani Singh

Rani Singh writes about aviation. She reports on news, foreign affairs, politics and business...
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Security Company CEO enjoys added security of Business Aviation

Dr Richie Nanda is the Executive Chairman of Topsgrup, widely regarded as India’s biggest security firm, and The Shield Group. Business Aviation in the security business is a rapid growth sector, as Nanda explains in a recent interview with Rani Singh.

Dr Nanda was brought up in India by parents who encouraged him from a very young age to start working and looking towards the future, but his was a story of struggle. “When my father had a stroke, I was forced to take control of his shares in a chain of Chinese restaurants.

“I think people looked at me and assumed I had everything handed to me on a silver plate but when I got my first job, I was surviving on £10 [$16] a month. People have not seen the twenty eight years of hard work I've put in to get here. The nights I slept without food or drink - most people would have crumbled under the pressure of having to provide for their family at the age of 16; instead I flourished.

“I considered a series of different career paths ranging from public relations to real estate brokering but in the end I decided I wanted to revive the family business in private security,” Nanda recalls. “I knew the Indian security market was missing something; a professional, ethical and quality conscious security provider.”

Within his first few years of owning TOPSGRUP, Dr Nanda challenged the Mafia in Bombay, which at the time was extorting money in exchange for security. “The highest level of security should not just be kept for the largest bidder, but for those who need it the most."

“After leading the domestic Indian market, I felt a need to enter the mature UK security market, and in 2012 I completed a £19.5million purchase of The Shield Group…one of the top UK security companies with a reputed brand, which meant it was an obvious brand fit for TOPSGRUP.

“I first started using private jets roughly four years ago when I had to begin travelling back and forth from our offices in London, to the headquarters in India,” notes Nanda. “I had a deal to seal and could not afford to be inaccessible for eight hours [flying commercially]. At that point it was critical to be in London at a specific time and Business Aviation paid-off.”

Furthering Business with Private Jets

Under TOPSGRUP, Shield has become the UK’s largest independent total security solutions company. Philip Beresford who compiles the Sunday Times Rich List - in which Dr Nanda has figured two consecutive years - notes, “Dr Nanda is widely acknowledged to have rejuvenated the security industry in India and with the acquisition of The Shield Group in Britain in 2012, he has once again shown exemplary leadership, business vision, dynamism and an innovative approach to take The Shield Group to the position of being the largest, independent Total Security Solutions provider in the UK.”

“It is my responsibility to ensure that the business continues to thrive and expand across the globe,” Nanda outlines. “I am trying to create a safer world; I chose this sector because I believe it is one of the best ways to make a difference.”

The aspect of Dr Nanda’s growing empire that receives relatively little coverage, however, is the use of private jets. It seems obvious, but they clearly are a necessary tool in the world of security. “I am a strong believer that time is money,” Nanda elaborates. “By using private aviation I am able to save massive amounts of time which I can then spend helping my business grow.

“It allows me to work to my highest capability no matter where I am - whether that's sitting in my office in London or flying thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. I am also able to work without the fear of interruption.”

Crisis management is a large part of working in the security sector. “I could be needed at the drop of a hat, so this means I need to avoid anything that could cause delays on my journey – Business Aviation is the most efficient way of achieving this.”

At the Heart of the Action

Adding to his need for Business Aviation, Dr Nanda’s business has offices throughout the globe, and being able to get from one to another in a few hours is essential. “I never wanted to be a boss who is away from where the action is; I want to be in the middle of it, making sure everything is going according to plan.

“I also pride myself on punctuality,” he adds. “Being on time is vital for your business to succeed, if you are just a few hours late to a meeting you could lose a deal which might cost you millions. In order for this business to be the best it can be, being late is not an option.

“It is also important to remember that working in security, my primary focus is always to ensure the safety and security of my clients. There are cases when it is simply safer to use private jets to fly my clients across the globe than it would be to use the airlines.”

Bigger Goals

Dr Nanda has his sights set on a bigger goal, ultimately. “Three years from now, I would like to see the business achieve even more; this will involve reaching a larger international clientele. My main priority is expanding into the US. It will be one of my biggest challenges yet, but I believe that this is the market that needs to be tapped.”

Naturally, Business Aviation will aid him in unlocking the United States. “Using a commercial airliner to fly from London to New York takes eight hours, and that doesn't include going through security or checking-in so realistically it takes roughly twelve hours.

“Private aviation is likely to reduce the time issue - but like any businessman, whatever decision I make, whether to fly commercial or via a private jet, it needs to make economic sense. For me private aviation is less about luxury and more about practicality.”

Side Bar

Having gained so much through hard work, Dr Nanda explains, “One of my biggest desires is to give back to society as much as I can. It gives me immense pleasure being able to help those who need it most.” Specifically this has involved adopting and educating desolate girls in India. “They have been held back for so long that it's amazing seeing them flourish in education.

“It is also really important to remember what our ancestors have sacrificed in order for us to be where we are today. As a mark of respect and appreciation for the heroes of the Indian War, I created an initiative and pledged over 1,000 eyes for the beneficiaries of the victims of the Kargil War. It was my small way of expressing my gratitude to those who fearlessly protected and died for our nation.”

Read more about: Richie Nanda

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