Reimagining Business with an EMBA – Ved Prakash Sharma’s Entrepreneurial Story

“Many of my batchmates changed their job roles. Some changed cities and even countries to do what best suited them,” asserts Ved Prakash (EMBA 2020; Co-founder – Iyasya Spa), who decided to stay back in India and start a venture of his own.

“The EMBA program changes you to think and act differently; it brings out the real YOU. It encouraged me to run my own business, and the case studies gave me the courage and inspiration to grow it further.”

Ved started his entrepreneurial journey in 2020 by launching a spa in Pune. Today, his company, Iyasya Spa, operates 21 spas across the country. So, how did SP Jain’s Executive MBA help him in his career progression during the pandemic? Let’s hear what Ved has to say.

Ved Prakash Sharma - Iyasya Spa - EMBA 2020

Q. Could you tell us about yourself?

Born in a small hill town called Kalimpong, I completed my high school studies at St Augustine’s. I then took up hotel management and was trained with ITC Sheraton, Bangalore. I got placed through the college campus as a supervisor with Ci-da-de Goa and later worked with The Oberoi, Mumbai. In 2002, I got an opportunity to work with Regent Seven Seas Cruises and completed five world cruises and two trips around South America.

I moved back to India in 2010 and worked at Intercontinental Marine Drive to open India’s first signature Thai restaurant with Chef Ian Kittichai. After a short stint with the Intercontinental, I moved on to Cinema/Retail and was the Area Manager in Mumbai for PVR Cinemas. In 2015, I joined HoE wellness as General Manager India and was promoted as AVP to Manage India and Singapore operations. 

Q. How did you discover SP Jain’s EMBA, and why did you decide this was the ideal program for you?

My wife helped me shortlist a couple of colleges based on their reviews, but SP Jain stood out. I attended an introduction session at the Mumbai campus and liked how the program was designed. The weekend face-to-face classes got me excited, and I was sure that the peer-to-peer learning in this program would be incredible. The facilities were top-notch and technology-driven. Great feedback from the alumni was the icing on the cake. 

Q. How would you describe your EMBA classroom? What have you been able to learn from them during your program?

Due to the pandemic, we had to switch to the Engaged Learning Online (ELO) platform, but that didn’t hamper the quality of the program at all. The ELO platform is very effective, and gave us a classroom-like experience. The sessions were very interactive, and the professors could read our expressions and focus on us individually. Case studies got me excited, and the group exercises were really good. The course was well-balanced to give you overall managerial knowledge.

Since I came with over 20+ years of experience, there was a lot to unlearn and learn. I sharpened my analytical skills, learned to strategise better and got an overview of all the important business functions. Simulation as a group exercise really used to get our brains thinking, and in one situation, we had the best players, but an over-analysis got us to be the last Team.

Professor’s words, “too much analysis leads to paralysis”, is a lesson well learnt.

Q. You started your venture, i.e. Iyasya Spa, during the pandemic, and there has been tremendous growth since you started. According to you, what are the factors for this?

I looked into all the assignments and projects at work through the lenses of “Iyasya Spa”, which helped me shape our business faster and better. For every subject, I used to ask the professor if I could write the implementation around spas and the response at all times was, “Why not?”. The Industry was new to all, and during the course, I could see my batchmates also supporting me in doing group projects on spas.

In short, I implemented all that I learned in my business, my professors encouraged me to implement them, and my batchmates were happy with my success. When the world was closing down during the pandemic, we were scaling up. We had excellent quality management, motivated team players and well-managed funds. Just in time was a savour, and TQM policies that ensured timely payment of the vendors helped us get low-cost quality supplies.

We started with one spa in Pune in July 2020 and, as of today, operate 21 spas across. We are rebranding the salons attached to the spas, which will help us increase company valuation by 12 TSO Salons. Please note TSO Salon was created while we were brain storing an idea via business canvas.

Q. Do you think studying EMBA with SP Jain helped you in your career progression journey? Could you tell us how?

Had I been asked this question before EMBA, I would have said I wanted to do the course to get a better job and position. I believe all my batchmates would have said the same.

But the fact is the program changes you to think and act differently; it brings out the real YOU. It encouraged me to run my own business, and the case studies gave me the courage and inspiration to grow it further. Many of my batchmates changed their job roles. Some changed cities and even countries to do what best suited them.

Q. Could you share your ABR experience with us in brief? Was this one of the enabling factors for your career growth? If yes, could you tell us how?

Since Applied Business Research (ABR) is the last and left to complete at your pace, you normally get exhausted. Please note that the ABR also brings a lot of anxiety since you’ve learnt a lot in the last 15 months, and there are multiple ideas in your head. Plus, you want to over-impress your company or the industry mentor.

ABR can be a complete mess if not guided well, and I appreciate the below help

  1. Dean Gary Stockport’s stepwise guide helps you maintain a course
  2. Asst Dean Vanita Bhoola personally understands the students’ mindset and helps them choose a mentor
  3. Your Academic Mentor helps you to make the research as practical as possible
  4. The interaction between the Industry mentor and Academic mentor brings in a purpose and adds practical value

The ABR research was carried out on TSO Salons, a branch of Iyasya to manage salons. Post ABR, we have changed the entire business focus on strengthening our primary product, “Hair Dressers”, and carried out a stepwise process of changing their service mindset. This, in turn, will strengthen the ongoing relationship with the customers.

During the research, we tested the outcomes and permanently implemented some of the changes. We tied up with premium skincare brand Skeyndor and introduced an Italian hair care product called “Milk Shakes” which empowers us to cater to customers who are spoilt with choices.

Q. What has been your favourite aspect of the EMBA program so far?

SP Jain EMBA is not a learning program alone, but the way the course is designed changes YOU. It’s not an easy course, and there is not a time that SP Jain will lower its guard. The professors support and guide you continuously, your peers and friends are competitive, and the professionalism is maintained. Your family will automatically start supporting you as you will often burn the midnight oil.

So it’s hard to pinpoint one in particular. Moreover, one does not exist without the support of the other. 

Q. What type of professional and personal skills does it take to succeed at your work? How did your time at SP Jain help you build these skills?

“Unlearn and Learn” being a generalist helps. My business demands me to be competitive, maintain high quality, continuously evolve and cater to a niche segment. The Marketing, Strategy and Quality management classes added good value. Corporate valuation and marketing have helped me create a brand value and increase my company valuation by introducing “TSO Salon”.    

Q. What insights or tips would you like to share with professionals considering an Executive MBA degree to climb the career ladder?

An EMBA degree will definitely help one understand the overall aspects of business and get an edge over the others. The EMBA is not just about the degree; SP Jain’s EMBA brings an overall change to how one approaches, thinks and acts. As mentioned earlier, it brings out the real YOU in you and definitely helps you grow.

I finished my MBA at the age of 43, so it is never too late to learn.

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Read more stories from SP Jain’s EMBA students and alumni.

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