Varun Chaudhary© HelloIndia

Varun Chaudhary On Leading The Growth Of Wai Wai Noodles Worldwide

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Neeva Jain

In the world of business, certain names resonate with success, ambition and an unwavering commitment to excellence, and Varun Chaudhary embodies these traits. The youngest son of industrialist Binod Chaudhary, owner of CG Corp Global and Nepal’s sole billionaire (as listed by Forbes), Varun has found his footing in the family business. A proud alumnus of Miami University and the prestigious IIM Ahmedabad, he has made a significant contribution to the cement and foods divisions (CG Corp is the force behind India’s beloved Wai Wai noodles!) and shown a growing interest in power and infrastructure. HELLO! chats with the man behind the brand, who’s also an avid automobile aficionado, movie buff, a caring husband and a doting father of two.

HELLO!: Varun, despite being the youngest son from the influential Chaudhary clan, you have carved out an impressive narrative for yourself. What led you to pursue your chosen path?

Varun Chaudhary: “That’s very kind of you to say. Since my days in The Doon School, I was lucky enough to make some good friends and start networking. Right after school, I went to study in Dubai, where I got the opportunity to meet a lot of people from around the globe. I was blessed to have some well wishers and upon my return, one thing led to another … and here I am.”

H!: A multinational conglomerate with businesses in 35 countries, CG Corp Global has several verticals under its mammoth empire. Tell us about your contribution to the same…

VC: “I look after the CG Foods business outside of Nepal, which happens to be the maker of the prestigious noodle brand, Wai Wai. Our manufacturing is set up in five countries, including India, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Bangladesh and will soon be in Egypt too. Moreover, cement has become a significant business for us and we’re the largest in that space in Nepal. These two businesses take up a lot of my time and energy. Power, infrastructure, real estate (in India), Agro Tech (agriculture and ayurveda), trading and Mega Food Park are all also in growth mode!”

H!: We surely do love Wai Wai noodles in India. But speaking of India, tell us about your tie-ups with the Bollywood stars!

VC: “Bollywood has always been close to my heart and I have friends all across the industry. Our recent tie-up was with Ayushmann Khurrana, who was a perfect match for this brand.”

H!: For one so young, you seem to be driven by your ambition. Could you share some of your milestone achievements to date?

VC: “I started working all the way back in Dubai in 2006, where I personally witnessed ups and downs due to the global recession of 2008. That’s where I learnt how to swim against the tide, and it’s been my most enriching experience. Besides that, I would say working on Wai Wai after spending time in India is where I learned how to lead from the front. I got into cement a bit late, but nevertheless we’ve become a significant player in the same; in fact, our association with Adani Group’s cement business helped me boost the ties between two countries and that’s when I noticed a huge potential in this field. I’m also looking into some infra and power projects—it’s another sector with tremendous opportunity. My recent tie up with DMCC for agriculture is something I hold close to my heart as well. This will be a total game changer!”

H!: Given your affluent upbringing, how would you define luxury today?

VC: “Luxury, to me, is subjective. It could be having brunch in Kongde (an Everest trek point), spending time at our wildlife resort in Chitwan [Nepal] which overlooks the jungle on the river, or sitting on a swing in the sea at Taj Exotica in Maldives … the smallest pleasures are a luxury.”

H!: With your business interests spanning across the world, you must travel a lot. How do you make time for your family, especially your little twins?

VC: “I try to come home early and set weekends aside to spend with family. My wife, Anushree, plays a vital role in ensuring that this is maintained. One hundred percent of the credit goes to her!”

H!: Anushree and her brother are at the helm of one of India’s premier jewellery houses, DiaColor. How do you support her in her endeavours?

VC: “She knows her rough diamonds and has a very well-balanced love for jewellery. I motivate her to scale up and wherever I can add my two bits, I do—although, I understand very little of this industry!”

H!: Besides your father, Binod Chaudhary, who’s your biggest inspiration in the business?

VC: “It’s difficult to name one; a handful of people have played a vital role in my journey. However, I would say it’s Gautam Adani. He’s humble, simple, courageous, driven, meticulous and most importantly, he gives the desired level of encouragement. Also, Dr. Naresh Trehan, who has always been there for our family, no matter how busy he is.”

H!: How often do you go back to Nepal? What is it like to live in a larger-than-life joint family today?

VC: “To be honest, while we still live in a joint family, we have our own space. The businesses we look after have also been clearly defined. My business spans across the globe and my stakes are particularly high in the cement arena so I spend about 10 odd days in Nepal every month. I believe one cannot control businesses remotely, and so physical presence is a must.”

H!: What does your downtime look like?

VC: “It is rare but when I have the time, I don’t miss a single movie. I try to catch the first show on the first day and watch a lot on OTT platforms as well. Weekends are for family only. I also like to travel, listen to music and have always been an avid car fanatic!”

H!: Could you share the story of your most challenging moment in life?

VC: “In the first quarter of 2022, I had an unfortunate accident in the Maldives. This incident was particularly difficult not only due to its severity but also because it marked the second time I had to undergo a serious leg surgery requiring immediate rescue. It was a long and slow road to recovery. For a period of six to seven months, my mobility was severely restricted. However, I remained dedicated to virtually overseeing the businesses I lead. This challenging period coincided with the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been humbling for us all. Nevertheless, I was determined to strike a balance between taking care of my personal health and ensuring there was no compromise in our business performance for the year. The experience, although tough, was remarkably rewarding.”

H!: With your tremendous experience in the business, what advice would you give to someone starting out?

VC: “You must have a vision along with a sincere muscle for adaptability and collaboration. Embrace change and inspire your team to do the same. Encourage diverse perspectives, as solutions often emerge from varied experiences. Forge partnerships and alliances across borders to address shared problems collectively. In the face of global challenges, a true leader’s determination and ability to unite people can steer the world toward a brighter future.”

H!: Where do you see yourself in five years?

VC: “I envision a future where CG Foods stands proudly listed in India, achieving the remarkable milestone of becoming a thriving multibillion dollar company. Our journey is one of rapid expansion, not only broadening our product portfolio but also welcoming like-minded FMCG companies into our fold through strategic mergers and acquisitions. Together, we shall carve a path that inspires, invigorates and transforms the FMCG landscape, setting new standards of excellence.”

Photos: Manoj Kesharwani; Creative Direction & Styling: Amber Tikari

This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s December 2023 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!