As a new immigrant, she told her husband while shopping at an Indian mini supermarket in Central Auckland that such retail business would be lucrative and that they should abandon their search for employment.
“I want to buy this shop,” she told him, as if the retail store was a part of the grocery. The idea seemed far-fetched since there was no ‘For Sale’ signboard anywhere in its precincts.
Call it providence, miracle or just a coincidence, about a month later, she became the owner of the shop and ventured into imports, exports and investment in properties.
That was a new beginning 11 years ago for Shivani Arora, a woman of diverse interests and responsibilities. Today, she and her husband Kuldeep own two Nando’s Restaurants in Hamilton and ‘India Gate’ (formerly Chaska Punjab Da), located on Manukau Road in Epsom, Auckland.
Managing restaurants entails tact, diplomacy, teamwork and willingness to perform even menial tasks, all of which come naturally to Shivani, who believes in spreading happiness through friendship and goodwill.
Passion for Business
The Arora family is known for its passion for business on the one hand and community service on the other, which brings Shivani to a number of community welfare organisations, notably the Shri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan of New Zealand Inc, of which she is a Committee Member.
Born and raised in a well-meaning family in Chandigarh, India, Shivani moved with her husband to Bahrain, which was their home for several years – an ideal country to raise their children.
A graduate in Art and Education (BA and BEd), she took to teaching for almost two decades; a profession that taught her the virtues of understanding, patience, perseverance and love for people.
Self-confidence and trust in the ability and competence of those around are among her best attributes, forging good relationship with suppliers, customers and others connected with her enterprises.
“India Gate is an expression of my love for the hospitality sector. My ambition is to make it a restaurant that personifies the best in Indian cuisine, ambience, value for money and most important of all, the finest example of customer service,” she said.
The success of Nando’s might see their third restaurant of the international chain opening in Auckland shortly. Her vision for the immediate future also includes ‘a serious look at franchise business.’
Long before she migrated to New Zealand, Shivani was unsure if people here would welcome her and her family and if they could make an honourable living. She soon found that her fears were ill founded.
“This is a blessed country of good natured people. Kiwis are friendly and caring and the ethnic diversity adds colour and fun to life here. We are fortunate that our customers represent all communities resident in the country,” she said.
There is a time for business, family and religious and social pursuits but Shivani believes that spirituality and faith in God gives meaning and purpose to every human activity.
“It breeds conscience in the self and clears the mind for good things in life and business. Integrity and honesty must combine with hard work. Success thereafter will be surety.
“True happiness is not how much money you have made but how rich you are with your relationship in the family. I am fortunate to have a caring husband and three loving children,” Shivani said, referring to her daughter Sonam (employed at KPMG), sons Abhinav (a student of BSc & BCom) and Pawan (a teenager keen to pursue the medical profession).
Her mother’s advice years ago, constantly rings in Shivani’s mind.
“You should keep your heart clear to allow good things. Be open and be good to everyone and you will achieve happiness and success in everything you do.”