Innovative Leadership: 5 Lessons From Malavika Hegde’s Success Story

  • Introduction

Business landscapes change frequently. It is an ever-evolving environment where innovative and creative leaders stand out as shining examples for generations to come. They exude crucial qualities like the ability to adapt to changing times and markets, lead a team of employees with great success and become an inspiration for people around them. Today, we are looking at Malavika Hegde, the brilliant leader of Cafe Coffee Day, to gain inspiration on innovative leadership.

  • History of Cafe Coffee Day

Cafe Coffee Day was founded by a visionary businessman V.G. Siddhartha in 1996. It was a popular spot for anyone and everyone to go for a cup of brew and hang out in peace. Its popularity boomed exponentially, and it became one of the biggest cafe chains in India. In other words, Cafe Coffee Day was the one to introduce the cafe culture in India.

However, in the last decade, Cafe Coffee Day faced several troubles and challenges that led the founder and owner of this chain business to early death. Cafe Coffee Day had racked up a huge amount of debt with very little time to pay it off. The owner couldn’t handle the pressure and jumped into a river to commit suicide. The business took a great hit and everyone was unsure about the future of this cafe chain.

Amidst the uncertainty and confusion, the wife of the owner, Malavika Hegde stepped forward to take the helm of the business. Her brilliant business tactics and undaunted determination brought the business back on track. Here’s to know more about malavika hegde and her business journey.

  • Lesson 1: Embrace change

Malavika Hegde was well aware of the changes in the market and understood the importance of evolving alongside it. Her ability to adjust to shifting customer preferences and trends in the market proved to be instrumental in the growth of the company. She understood that stagnation was harmful to the business and urged her team to stay ready and agile to shift with the market flow.

Changes and upgrades in the menu were a prime demonstration of her willingness to change with time. As people started to become more health-conscious, she made sure to include healthier options in the menu to retain loyal customers and attract newer ones. This strategy was like hitting two birds with one stone as she not only catered to changing taste buds but was also successful in keeping Cafe Coffee Day relevant in the market.

  • Lesson 2: Foster a Culture of Innovation

Innovation is a crucial aspect in running a lasting business and it can only thrive in an environment that proactively encourages new ideas and creativity. Malavika Hegde cast Cafe Coffee Day in this philosophy and actively fostered the innovative and creative minds in the company.

She used different methods to promote innovation, like brainstorming sessions, incentives for creative solutions and cross-functional collaboration programs, within the company. This approach was very successful as it encouraged her team to think outside the box to create new and exciting products that would pull the company in front of the market race.

  • Lesson 3: Empower Your Team

Empowering the team is as important as empowering yourself. It allows the team to make crucial decisions and take ownership of their actions which goes a long way to support any business. Malavika Hegde was well aware of this fact and made a strategic decision to give autonomy to her team.

As a show of trust, she allocated power to her teams, which motivated them to work with more enthusiasm and feel accountable for their actions. As a result, employees’ morale was boosted significantly and productivity reached an all-time high.

  • Lesson 4: Stay Customer-Centric

Customers are the lifeline of any business and their satisfaction level determines the lifespan of the company. Malavika Hegde was well aware of this fact and she made it her top priority to listen to the customers. She would take customer feedback seriously and try to incorporate it into the company’s operations and serve more customers.

Methods like surveys, feedback forms and social media engagement were used to gather customer perspectives and their preferences. This allowed Cafe Coffee Day to create its strategy accordingly that would meet customer expectations for a long time.

  • Lesson 5: Lead with Resilience

Malavika’s journey of leadership was full of hurdles and setbacks that could have discouraged any weak-willed human. However, her unwavering reliance set her apart from others. Even In the face of adversity, Malavika Hegde refused to give up and led her company and team through difficult times with her determination.

The greatest test of her resilience was while navigating Cafe Coffee Day through the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn. Her ability to stay steadfast and inspire her team to work together played a huge role in Cafe Coffee Day’s long-term success.


Malavika’s journey to save a sinking business serves as a reminder that the right kind of leadership with the right attitude will lead to the eventual success of the business. These lessons are not exclusive to just businesses, anyone with ambition can take these lessons to heart and make a difference in the field they choose.

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