Nobody is a failure in life so long as you try and try. This mantra has served Datuk Ram Nandkishore very well.
It was Datuk Ram Nandkishore’s dream to be a barrister. So after his Senior Cambridge examination, he flew off to London in 1964. But he never made it to the Bar. It came to a point where he threw up his arms and decided to move on.
“I didn’t complete my Bar finals. I failed my Bar finals four times, but Tunku (Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister) failed it many times. So I took inspiration from him,” said Ram. “You can still be successful despite not been called to the Bar. I felt very qualified as a failure because I had read the same subject many times.
“You can say, I’m a successful failure,” said Ram, who is based in London. Ram and his French wife, Sabine Ram, made a recent stopover in Malaysia while on a five-week holiday.
Ram ventured into real estate in London. In 1970, he built a retail chain which he later sold off when he moved on to food and drinks, restaurants and clubs.
Prior to his venture into real estate, Ram was practically out in the cold when his parents cut off his allowance after he kept failing his law exams. “I was angry and frustrated,” he confessed.
Ram found moral support from his then French girlfriend, who later became his wife. Sabine was studying in London then.
He said: “I was not coming back to Malaysia to take over my father’s tea plantation business (in Cameron Highlands) or to marry an Indian girl chosen by my parents.”
Ram had displayed a strong entrepreneurial streak from young. He became a market trader in trinkets and costume jewellery.
Life was very hard, but Ram had remarkable business acumen. Within a year, he had expanded to 10 stalls. Ram bought his first shop, Rama Superstore or Super Rama, a few years later. At one point, Ram had 350 traders paying him rent. From the profits, Ram ventured into real estate.
In 1977, Ram opened Regine’s London, a landmark international club franchise with a presence in cities like Paris, New York, Monte Carlo and Rio de Janeiro.
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