The wife of late Café Coffee Day CEO VG Siddhartha, Malavika Hegde became an inspiration to many by becoming the CEO of a debt-ridden company in December 2020.
Hegde joined the company Coffee Day Enterprise Ltd (CDEL) at a time when it was under Rs 7,000 crore debt. By March 2021, she managed to reduce it to Rs 1,731 crore. This reduction took place when the entire world business was reeling under the economic crisis due to coronavirus led pandemic and successive lockdowns.
Hedge was born in 1969 in Bengaluru, Karnataka to a politician named Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna, who was the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, and to a social activist Prerna Krishna. Her younger sister Shambhavi Krishna is also a successful businesswoman.
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Hegde completed her engineering degree at Bangalore University and married Siddhartha in 1991. The couple had two sons – Eshaan and Amartya – together.
Previously, Hegde was a non-executive board member of the company. The first outlet of Café Coffee Day was launched in 1996 on Brigade Road in Bangalore. Along with coffee, the outlets had internet surfing to attract customers.
The Modern Day Tale Of Hardwork And Perseverance: CEO Of CCD Malavika Hegde, Know More About Her Story
When she was first briefed by her husband about selling a Rs 5 cup of coffee at Rs 25, she had laughed at it, thinking who would buy such an expensive coffee. But since the first shop opening, CCD became an urban culture. It became a hub for friends to meet, corporate employees to work from and an active dating option for singles.
There are now 572 cafes owned by the company in 165 cities of India and a total of 26,362 vending machines serving coffee to CCD customers.
Things seemed to be faring well on the outside until July 2019. Her late husband Siddhartha died by suicide and his body was found on July 31, 2019. He and his driver were en route to Sakleshpur from Bengaluru when Siddhartha decided to change the location and asked his driver to take him to Chikmagalur. Once they reached a bridge there, he got down and asked the driver to wait for him on the other end of the bridge. He never returned.
A police search was called for on July 29 and later the body was found. He had left a note which shook entire country.
In the note, he had apologised for failing “to create the right profitable business model.” He wrote about the pressure that he was under and the harassment he faced by the Income Tax department. This emotional and horrifying note came as a shock because CCD was not just part of a company, it had become part of people’s lives in urban India.
Coffee and conversation in an urban outlet became the norm and continue to be one to date.
Malavika Hegde CCD CEO: Re-emerging From The Ashes
Despite the personal loss and the company being in a bad situation financially, Hegde did not let it go. In July 2020, a year after Siddhartha’s death, Hegde made her first public statement addressing the 25,000 employees. She stated, “Resolutely committed to the future of Coffee Day as a going concern,” and added that it was “worth pursuing.”
The condition of the company was such, that employees were worried about losing their jobs and the company closing down. On the day of Siddhartha’s death, the shares too had crashed. On February 3, they were suspended from trading.
After Hegde took the role of CEO, she worked hard and brought down the debt. According to Punekar News, the company paid Rs 1,644 to its lender and accepted an amount from the US private equity giant Blackstone. They sold a stake in Mindtree, which helped in the reduction process.
Under her, the company entered into a share purchase agreement with reputed companies. Hegde actively pulled the company up and continues with her relentless effort.
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