15 CHANGE MAKERS, LEADERS AND SCIONS

Tomorrow Inc – Class of 2020
15 CHANGE MAKERS, LEADERS AND SCIONS
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Deputy Editor, Entrepreneur India Magazine
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While working for our fifth edition of Tomorrow Inc. our flagship IP of generation next leaders, we make sure to come out with new names across industries who are making a mark in the family or generation-run businesses. Our research starts with various sectors and people who are taking ahead the growth path to extend it to the next level. In a family business set up, every generation faces challenges of their own while problems are of a different nature for a first-generation entrepreneur - the second generation always thinks about scale up from there on while the third generation thinks of diversifications of a different kind. The scions you will read about in the ensuing pages made sure they bring a flavour of the current world to the business their fathers/forefathers have started. In this journey, the learning has to never stop as stakes are much higher when the business has reached a certain scale. All eyes are on them on how much longevity they can bring to the business. Here's to those who are re-thinking the family business.

(This article was first published in the September 2020 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)

The Money Wizard

The Money Wizard
Image credit: The Muthoot Group

ALEXANDER GEORGE MUTHOOT, DEPUTY MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE MUTHOOT GROUP

Alexander George Muthoot formally joined the family business in the year 2006 after he returned from the US after completing his studies. Talking about his tryst with the family business, Muthoot shares, “Though I was part of the family business for about four years even prior to going to the US, I would say my full-fledged involvement in the family business kick-started from 2006 onwards.” From attending office everyday morning along with his father M. G. George Muthoot, Chairman of The Muthoot Group of Companies to attending morning prayer at 9 a.m. sharp (which is a universal prayer across all their branches), being part of morning huddle meetings with senior functionaries, visiting various branches in Delhi and outside along with his father for business reviews were all part of his early involvement in the business. Muthoot has been driving branch expansion in a big way, especially across North, East & West India from 37 branches when he joined in 2006 to +1,800 branches today. Talking about introducing changes in a family business that is 800 years old, Muthoot says, “As an organization, we are very process-driven and since we have carefully thought and well-defined processes in place; it is never difficult to present, deliberate, approve and implement any change or any decision. Hence, to encourage collaboration, we have constituted a Family Board where all suggestions are put forth, discussed, deliberated, and once approved, they are meticulously implemented.”

Muthoot contributed in a number of areas such as improving the Group’s brand image by engaging the legendary Amitabh Bachchan as the Brand Ambassador, partnering with leading IPL teams like Delhi Daredevils earlier, and now with Chennai Super Kings. He also invested heavily on technology, Muthoot Chatbot, to name a few, and more importantly focusing on transforming Muthoot Finance from being just a gold-loan company to a diversified financial powerhouse with 20 diversified business divisions. Going forward, his greatest objective is to make Gold Loans a respectable and preferred choice for credit for every individual, every household, and every businessman. To achieve this, he is driving widespread branch expansion plans across India. Currently present in the USA, UK, UAE, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, and Nepal he would like to expand the overseas presence to many more countries in the coming years.

The Linen Empress

The Linen Empress
Image credit: Vardhman Textiles

SUCHITA OSWAL JAIN, VICE CHAIRMAN & JOINT MANAGING DIRECTOR, VARDHMAN TEXTILES

At the time of joining the business, Suchita Oswal Jain was only 22. For the initial few months, she worked closely with the yarn exports, HR and IT (Information technology) teams, trying to absorb the business and streamlining the processes at the same time. “I was fortunate enough to be trained under Shri S P Oswal, a Padma Bhushan Awardee who laid the foundation of this great institution,” shares Jain. Having him as her mentor not only gave her insights into industry but also amplified her passion for this family legacy. In less than a year, she had identified an opportunity that ignited her inner spark - the forward integration of Vardhman Group and setting up of a griege fabric division in Himachal Pradesh.

This was an enormous responsibility as everything was to be created from scratch, but she was determined to lead. “We started with establishing a small set up for manufacturing and gradually began exporting, owing to the supreme quality Vardhman is renowned for,” adds Jain. Jain introduced new marketing strategies, emphasized product development, and widened the product basket at Vardhman. From a production centric business, she took the bold step of moving towards a customer centric business segment. While Vardhman was a reputed name in yarn industry, proceeding to fashion-fabric business was a new experience altogether. Talking about her interest in the family business, she says, “I had seen my father work towards establishing this business and wanted to expand the horizons further.” Her particularly admires the way she led the establishment of connections with International brands like GAP, Timberland, Target, Banana Republic and Old Navy. At present she is working towards consolidating the business operations wherein the primary focus will be on textiles only. Suchita has two daughters Saumya and Sagarika. Both were very young when she joined the business. “I would juggle between work and family but got adequate support from my husband and family members. My husband always encouraged me. Now my girls are grown up so I can dedicate more time to the business.”

The Alchemist

The Alchemist
Image credit: Vinati Organics

VINATI SARAF MUTREJA, CEO AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, VINATI ORGANICS

As a child, Vinati used to go to work with her father and learn about the business. Soon after she completed her education, she joined the family business. Sharing her early memories of being introduced to the business environment, Mutreja shares, “I remember going on a “roadtrip” to Mahad when I was about six years old. Our first factory was just being built then and my sister and I would get very excited because it was called “Vinati”.” Established in 1989, Vinati Organics Limited (VOL) is a specialty chemical company, focusing on manufacturing specialty chemicals and organic intermediaries. Vinati has turned around the fate of the company by taking the right decisions at the right time. Since her joining in 2006, the revenues have increased from Rs. 66 crore to Rs 1,000 crore. Moreover, she is an inspiration for women who are hesitant to join the STEM industry. Talking about her experience in the industry she says, “It’s an industry where experience is valued and people are judged based on a number of years in the field. Initially, I thought that people had preconceived notions because of my youth. However, I have realized it is also a result-driven industry and as long as you are able to deliver, age and gender matter very little.” Part of it is a conditioning, she remembers her grandmother telling her “You are your parent’s son, you have to take care of the business when you grow up”. On her next business move, she mentions, “We are adding several new products to our portfolio, the biggest being butyl phenols which cater to fragrance and antioxidant industries. We are also looking at more niche chemicals based on value addition.” At present when women are juggling multiple roles and trying to find a balance, Vinati urges women to keep me-time for themselves. She is quite vocal about finding the right balance between work and home. Work from home during lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic could be overwhelming for some. However, she believes one can be on top of things by following a daily routine, devoting some time to exercise and meditation, and eating healthy.

The Mattress Maker

The Mattress Maker
Image credit: Centaury Mattresses

UTTAM MALANI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTUARY MATTRESSES

Belonging to a pedigreed family who has been in several different businesses over the last 100+ years, Uttam Malani is a third generation entrepreneur whose grandfather founded Centuary Mattresses. A graduate of Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Malani started his career as a ‘Supply Chain Consultant’ at Capgemini in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) before moving to India to join the family business. Having joined Centuary as Management Executive in 2007, Uttam has played a key role right from his initial days at the company wherein he has had to work diligently in order to gain acceptance from internal and external stakeholders as well as make people change-ready. Taking over the mantle as Executive Director in 2013, Uttam’s dedicated involvement at the company has ensured a consistent and continuous growth. Talking about some of the bold moves he has made at the company, Malani says, “Over the last 12 years of being part of the business, some of the moves I have been involved in include creation of the Centuary exclusive retail format for foraying into high end offerings; setting up of the exports division; private label manufacturing for IKEA; starting the e-commerce division of Centuary way back in 2015 (when e-commerce was largely considered to be just another fad).” Malani was also the early adapters of digitisation, employing a SAP backed ERP architecture; which helped to do away with antiquated MIS and reporting systems; and brought in a new way of running and controlling the business. Talking about the difference in operating style of the father and son, Malani shares, “I tend to be more analytical and data driven; whereas my father belongs to the golden generation of Indian entrepreneurs who have achieved much success by backing their gut and taking bold decisions.” Some of the plans he recently executed or are the launch of product extensions into baby mattress and sleep accessories category.

The Ancient Healer

The Ancient Healer
Image credit: Mantra Herbal

VEDIKA SHARMA, DIRECTOR & FOUNDER MANTRA HERBAL & PRESIDENT BAIDYANATH JHANSI

Vedika Sharma comes from a family that has been in the business of Ayurveda for over 100 years. Growing up in a business environment, all her dinner conversations were invariably about work, business, or Ayurveda and that made her understand the basics of running a business and the fundamentals of Ayurveda. Once she completed her studies in the UK and came back to India, she worked with a few different organizations. Though she always planned to eventually start her own marketing agency a part of hers always also wanted to do something in the field of Ayurveda and promote the practice of Ayurveda across the globe. Reminiscing the same Sharma says, “I realized during my time in London that my friends there knew more about Ayurveda and Yoga than my friends back home and that’s when I decided I wanted to join the family business and spread the knowledge about Ayurveda in my generation.”

Sharma set up Mantra Herbal, an organic, authentic, and all-natural skincare brand, deeply rooted in the ancient science of Ayurveda, from the Baidyanath Research Foundation. Talking about Mantra Herbal, she says, “It has been challenging to create a shift in the market with Mantra and promoting the idea of clean beauty. Also, being a young woman in the industry is not easy and most people do not take you seriously till you don’t prove yourself and make them realize how serious and dedicated you are towards your work.”

As the 4th generation entrepreneur of the Baidyanath Group, she believes it is not difficult to introduce changes in the family business if you have the right kind of support from your family. In the words of Sharma, “I have been blessed to work and pave the way forward with the learning of my family’s legacy and as the younger generation, I always try to introduce and implement on and eating healthy.

Ice Cream Man

Ice Cream Man
Image credit: Naturals

SIDDHANT KAMATH, DIRECTOR, NATURALS

For Siddhant Kamath, post-school going to the Naturals ice cream shop was a routine, and also accompanying his dad during weekends post-dinner. He used to get RND ice cream flavours home for sampling as his father would always take his feedback. Kamath remembers, “He took me to store visits regularly and for franchise meetings as well where business was discussed. Family picnics for us would be to visit our milk farms & mango farms.” Though formally he was introduced to the business in 2013 post his graduation, the idea of Naturals and the brand philosophy was inducted in him way earlier.

Talking about one of his major moves taken after joining, Kamath says, “In 2014 we temporarily discontinued inducting new franchises. Our business model has traditionally been a franchise operating model. I took a cautious call to hold and focus on the quality of stores and not on the number of stores. We had to be more process-driven and work on brand values rather than focusing on growth. We made some new & bold decisions. Retrospection had to be done on the brand’s mission and vision to be in line with our new philosophy. We started opening company-operated stores which were out of our comfort zones. We invested heavily on customer experience and opened stores which would set examples and standards for our franchise to follow.” Rebranding in 2015 was a great task especially getting his father’s consent for it. Another challenge was to convince the franchisees to renovate as business was booming during the course and
there was no need for it. 

Naturals ice cream, which has shut the operations in the mid-march because of nationwide lockdown, started afresh from 12th June, with contactless online deliveries and takeaways for over 100 outlets across the country.

The Legacy Lawyer

The Legacy Lawyer
Image credit: Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas

PARIDHI ADANI, PARTNER, CYRIL AMARCHAND MANGALDAS

Paridhi Adani was always learning by osmosis and was often tagged along for business trips and meetings with her parents. Sharing one of her early memories of being introduced to the business environment she shares, “I spent my first birthday on the boardroom table of our office incidentally and it’s one of my favourite photos.” Over the years she learned many lessons by watching the family in action. She proudly shares on doing the same with her child and giving her first few business lessons.

Being a fourth-generation lawyer she wears her legacy with pride of the firm, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. For Paridhi Adani, the journey has been bottom-up. “We were not handed opportunities and positions just because of our last name. We had to work for it and sometimes fight for it too. I always tell my parents that they were harder on us than anyone else. We were rigorously evaluated not just on our technicals but also on strategic acumen,” says the lawyer firmly. She believes it actually helped since owing to this she was always pushing the boundaries.

Sharing her thoughts on how difficult it is to introduce changes in the family business, Adani mentions, “I believe that change for the sake of change or for solving for optics is where typically friction happens and then you end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater! It’s important to believe that change or differential thinking is necessary for the longevity of the brand and business. We then spend time building consensus. It’s about balancing alignment and speed. It’s difficult only if the intention or endgame isn’t right.”

Paridhi started her career in a very conservative and male-dominated market. Many clients did not even want to talk to a woman. As a family and firm, we believe in meritocracy and there is no gender bias. It took me some time to work through some of the issues of the society and culture that were different from what I knew but I can proudly say I have overcome them and now, in fact, our team is majority women. I believe that by focusing on being an utmost professional and sticking to my beliefs of meritocracy and discrimination we have sensitised most of our clientele and society and I believe have been able to encourage more women to overcome these challenges.

The Time Keeper

The Time Keeper
Image credit: Ajanta-Orpat Group

NEVIL PATEL, DIRECTOR, AJANTA-ORPAT GROUP

The dedication and passion that Nevil Patel’s grandfather - better known as the “Father of the wall clocks” and his father had put into the making of a brand that became “the world’s largest clock manufacturer” inspired Patel to take the legacy of his family business forward. What started out as a small firm that manufactured mechanical clocks eventually grew big and became the first company to bring the Quartz technology in India from Japan. After completing his Engineering in the field of Electronics from the USA, the third generation leader joined the company in 2004. With his proficiency and smart ideas, he managed to make Orpat Group a 200 cr net worth company from 1200 cr. 
Patel believes that it is through entrepreneurship that he can proactively contribute to the “Make in India ‘’ moment and take India a step closer towards being self-reliant.

Talking about his inspiration his grandfather, Patel says, “A very bold step initiated by my grandfather led to the employment of women back in the days of 1986, when women were restricted to household chores. He set an example for society by employing my mother and the other women from my family. This inspired the local women to take up jobs and become independent.” Today, the group has a women workforce of about 4,500 women at both managerial and non-managerial positions. His grandfather’s business model has been a case study for prestigious institutes like IIT and IIM. Patel has retained the fundamental principles of doing business and incorporated modern technology and sophisticated machinery to enlarge and improve manufacturing processes. The major changes have been in terms of in-house manufacturing, restructuring of marketing and logistics and diversification of product range. The recent development has been the introduction of an e-commerce channel to serve customers over the internet. The Ajanta-Orpat Group is well known for product diversification. “We started off with the clock manufacturing sector and soon spread our wings to consumer electronics and home  appliances that include fans, calculators, electrical switches and floor tiles. This was not all as we even diversified into the wind energy business, mobile business, hospitality business to Pharma business and even the material handling business,” shares Patel.

The Glass Man

The Glass Man
Image credit: Borosil

SHREEVAR KHERUKA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BOROSIL

Shreevar Kheruka was born in a family which is in the manufacturing industry. His first memory of being in a factory is when he was around six years old. “While in Calcutta, we had a glass manufacturing company. I remember that they used to have a raw material shed with mountains of sand and me and my siblings used to go climb and play in the sand all day. That was my first interaction with glass and going to the factory. We used to be in the plant every two weeks,” remembers Kheruka.

Though getting into the family business was not discussed in a formal manner, it was pretty much understood that he was going to come back from university and join the business. “I do not even think there was an option in my mind of not doing it, and I was incredibly happy to be part of it as well, the business is part of my DNA. I never had any other ambition of being an artist or any other profession. For me, I was very motivated and happy to come back and join my family business,” states Kheruka.

Before joining, he was working in Boston, which was a great experience, but, after some time he realized that working for somebody else wasn’t what he wanted to carry on with. One of the basic things, that you learn in finance in college is that without risk, there is no reward. After coming back he realised that Borosil’s business is quite complex. They had thousands of products, thousands of customers, and hundreds of production processes. He struggled initially, to really even understand how the business worked. Though a bigger challenge awaited him. It was the crisis that hit them in 2006-7. However, that is what also worked to urge to make changes and move in the right direction. “That is when we started aggressively going, talking to customers getting feedback on what we did well, what we didn’t do so well and making those changes on the back end. These changes reflected in several aspects right from the product development to our production process to the supply chain. We started improving our backend and frontend,” shares Kheruka. He always had great support from his father and grandfather, who were open and allowed him to make changes in the business.

The Showstopper

The Showstopper
Image credit: House of Anita Dongre

YASH DONGRE, BUSINESS HEAD, HOUSE OF ANITA DONGRE

When you are the son of an acclaimed fashion designer, finding your place in the family business is no easy task. Yash Dongre, son of Indian fashion designer Anita Dongre developed a natural liking towards the fashion business, especially the marketing side of things. That’s where he further went on to study marketing in college. Before joining the business formally, Dongre had casual exposure to the business just after finishing high school. “When I was still studying in Mumbai for my undergraduate programme I was still visiting the office a lot. Just sitting and meeting while doing basic tasks. So I got this exposure when I was 18-19 years old, so one of the advantages was by the time I joined the business officially which is five years ago. The early exposure helped me understand what part of the business I really wanted to work in,” remembers Dongre.  

He also saw the transformation of the company from being a young small set up into a mid-size organisation.  Seeing the operations of the company before and after growth, he knew scaling up won’t be easy. He wanted to find his way where he can add value. Dongre went on to do his masters in international marketing from Hult Business School, Boston. In 2015 he formally joined the business and took the onus of setting up the brand in United States (US). “In 2017, I moved to the US to set up a company there and we started it completely from scratch. We had no prior experience in the US as we had never done business in the US. I studied in the US and that was my only exposure. So I set up the whole operations from scratch, and I lived there for three years.” Dongre moved back to India in March this year before the pandemic led lockdown. He has been looking after the entire global operations but so far the focus has been US. He even developed the US website which serves all the other international markets.

Talking about his learning from the US market, Dongre says, “First we set up a pop-up store selling western garments. But we realized to focus on South Asians. We closed the pop-up opened and a much larger store in New York selling the entire collection of ethnic and Indian products which got a very good response. For Indian designer wear there was no availability in the market. After one year we got our act together. We were the first Indian designer label to go outside and open a store.” As per him, his mother Anita Dongre felt proud at this juncture. Now his aim is to set up operations in other international markets including Middle East, Canada and UK.

Future Forward

Ecommerce contribution of the brand has gone up from 10% to 40% in COVID times.

Future Constructor

Future Constructor
Image credit: Embassy Group

ADITYA VIRWANI, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, EMBASSY GROUP

Aditya Virwani knew at an early age that family business is what he wanted to be a part of as construction always fascinated him. After studying abroad he came back to India and was inducted formally into the business in 2016. Talking about the induction Virwani says, “I shadow worked my dad for two years. That gave me a broad view of the entire company. I not only learned on how to do business, deal with employees, politicians, bankers, landlords, but it also gave me an idea of what I like and where I can add value.” His father Jitu Virwani put him under Rajesh Bajaj his right-hand man who trained Aditya. After two eyras of induction Aditya says he was thrown in deep waters as he was made COO of the group. Today, after two years, Aditya says this position is something where he is feeling comfortable now as in the initial first year he was setting up processes to understand his style of functioning and strategic moves. He always wanted to build businesses which are ancillary or complimentary. This year saw the launch of Embassy Group’s newest asset class Olive by Embassy, the co-living space. Aditya also got into warehousing as he believes the ecommerce revolution has brought greta demand for spaces. Another vertical he is betting big on is senior living. In the future Virwani would want to set up a family office in invest in new start-ups. Talking about his father Aditya says, “He is unlike a traditional father. We have been best friends. Though he is still old school in thinking yet modern compared to other real estate first generation entrepreneurs. He is open to new ideas. The asset light model I need to prove to him and show this is the right way. I feel time will tell. To convince him I just have to execute.” Talking about the differences he says, his father is more hands off and while Aditya’s approach is more hands-on. After spending four eyras in business he fells they are both more aligned. “In family business you can always take a more entrepreneurial risky bet than professionals.”

The Entertainment Queen

The Entertainment Queen
Image credit: Eros Digital

RISHIKA LULLA SINGH, CHAIRMAN & CEO, EROS DIGITAL 

Daughter of Kishore Lulla, Chairman of Eros International, it comes as no surprise Rishika inherited entrepreneurial skills from her visionary father and is behind the success of ErosNow, the OTT (Over-the-top) platform of Eros. She heads Eros Digital, the digital arm of Eros International Plc, the NYSE-listed leading global company in the Indian film and entertainment sector. Rishika has been instrumental in the growth of ErosNow that hosts the largest library of Indian films, as well as premium television shows, music videos and audio tracks. Following the marketing launch of ErosNow in 2015, ErosNow has already garnered over 13 million paid subscribers and128 million registered users from
across the world.

Rishika joined the family business 10 years back. Family business was a part of her growing up years as it was a regular dinner table conversation. “While I would talk about school update, dad would talk about work updates. So that training happened in a soft conscious manner as I would ask a lot of questions,” remembers Rishika. Before joining the family business she did several internships. When asked on her decision to join the\ family business, Rishika says, “It was my own decision to join the family business and my father is very open minded. He said if you are passionate about it then there is space for you within this origination. Personally, I have always been technologically inclined. That’s the kind of space I wanted operate in. I wanted to digitize and increase the offering of the brand.”

When she first joined she was given an understanding of how various departments operate. Her induction was to get knowledge on more aspects of the business. Eros digital was an idea she had on a family vacation. “I was discussing it with dad since I have always been a digital first consumer. We were seeing the rise of Netflix of the world. At that time these companies were very new to the market. So I thought why we are not doing anything like this in India. So why don’t we digitize that library and stack up. 2012 is when we officially launched Eros digital,” shares Rishika. She has worked not only taking the brand global but also working on region specific content which worked in their advantage.

The Make in India Flag bearer

The Make in India Flag bearer
Image credit: Hero Electronix

UJJWAL MUNJAL, FOUNDER DIRECTOR,HERO ELECTRONIX

Hero Electronix is a Hero Group company which forayed into the consumer technology market. The third generation scion Ujjwal Munjal has been spearheading the group’s foray in the technology space. “At Hero Electronix, we have been constantly innovating in the space of AI-driven technologies with our strong R&D team,” shares Munjal.

According to Munjal, as the new generation is coming at the Hero Group they are all being given the freedom to build what they aim. Munjal set up Hero Electronix in 2015. “The intension was never to have a consumer product. But in two years we realized that we have the competence and capability to leverage. We thought of doing it ourselves and see if we can solve a real world problem,” shares Munjal. In 2019 they launched Qubo connected smart devices. As a group Hero has always worked towards building consumer trust and inspire. As per Munjal, “As long as I am able to work with confidence and deliver what I  say my father is fine with my decisions.” As a startup he began talking about the capability he had at the team level. He kept on adding people with ideas. “We selected the name Qubo because we didn’t want it to be overshadowed by the name Hero. We do feel here is a latent need in the market for products and services like this but they don’t exist. I am sure we will inspire confidence the way we have done in all our other businesses,” shares Munjal.

For Munjal it has been a rollercoaster journey all the way through with doubts emerging multiple times. “While doing this we made sure safety security wasn’t compromised. That’s the reason we didn’t go outside to pick up a readymade product and we build this product bottom up so that we could select the right hardware, create the right design to control the device the cloud.” So far, Munjal has invested 350 crore in this vertical and would be investing another 200 crore in next 1-2 years. This will be primarily around Qubo and the enterprise IoT business. currently, at Hero Electronix is doing a revenue of 600 crore and for Qubo the ambition is to be in a million homes in the next 3-5 years.

The Family Jewel

The Family Jewel
Image credit: Kalyan Jewellers

RAMESH KALYANARAMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, KALYAN JEWELLERS

The younger son of T.S. Kalyanaraman, Founder & Chairman of one of India’s largest jewellery brands, Ramesh Kalyanaraman is a fourthgeneration entrepreneur and the Executive Director of Kalyan Jewellers. With 26 years of rich experience, he came aboard two years after his elder brother, joining the business with the second outlet in Palakkad. From sitting at the counters, working as a cashier and selling gold ornaments to customers, Ramesh imbibed the learnings of his father. Since then, Ramesh Kalyanaraman, a graduate in business studies, has put his sharp marketing acumen to use in taking the brand across not just India, but also West Asia. At 41, the young business leader spearheads the marketing, sales and HR functions at Kalyan Jewellers.

Ramesh Kalyanaraman began understanding the jewellery trade alongside his academics. The early recognition of how every customer’s taste differs came from observing the demand for different designs at their first two stores. This perception of a key aspect of the retail jewellery business led to adoption of a hyperlocal strategy without diluting the national brand or quality, an approach that has been phenomenally successful as the brand forays into new regions in India and abroad. He believes in ensuring that the legacy of the brand is above all, and is also reflected in the branding strategy with brand ambassadors reflecting legacy. His marketing strategy is led by one word ‘Trust’, with the establishment of many benchmarks in a sector that until then was largely unorganized. The first to introduce detailed rate tags, among the first to sell Hallmarked jewellery and the first to educate customers about the nuances of buying jewellery were some of the initiatives led by Ramesh Kalyanaraman that has led to Kalyan Jewellers emerging as a trusted jewellery brand. Talking about the impact of Covid Kalyanaraman informs a  positive impact saying “Our revenues in Karnataka for last year June are similar to this year June revenues, which was the second phase of unlock.” At group level they are seeing 85% revenue as compared to last year June. According to him the recovery post lockdown was very quick, which they had not expected. As per him, “The ticket size of customer has increased which were buying for wedding. The savings from banquets hall, food, and other expenses is being given to the daughter or son as part of their wedding gift. Gold as a commodity appreciated during Covid and people have more confidence in this metal now.” The retail jeweler has recently filed for an initial public offering (IPO) to raise Rs 1,700 crore, the largest IPO by any jewellery retail brand in the domestic bourses.

The Billionaire Heir from Nepal

The Billionaire Heir from Nepal
Image credit: Vishal Group

ARPIT AGRAWAL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VISHAL GROUP

Vishal Group is one of the largest groups of Nepal and Agrawal happens to be the first member of the Generation four of the family. Having studied in the US for both bachelors and masters, he has been involved in the family business for the last seven years. Currently he is leading the FMCG distribution business - which is the biggest vertical and almost half the Group’s topline. While growing up in a businss family, strategy brainstorming was often done over dinner. Agrawal remembers how holidays were opportunities to see old projects with fresh eyes. He grew up hearing conversations around business. Reminiscing the same, Agrawal shares, “I spent most of my school vacations coming to the office. I’d participate in meetings and make suggestions that would often be integrated in the decision making process. It was exciting, as a kid, to see that your personal input has value, that your team’s collaboration can create tangible products and services that impact real lives. In hindsight, I see that the fact that I was enjoying such apprenticeship rather than holidaying for an extended period of time, was a clear indicator of an innate acumen and a natural interest in business.”

Today, Vishal Group is a Family of 20,000 employees and operates via 60 operation companies across 10 Business Segments - Financial Services, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Real Estate, Distribution, Steel, Cement, Education, Smart Cities and Incubating Projects. VG's turnover in 2019 was US $ 2 billon+. For Vishal Group, the strategy for growth has always been based around partnerships with some of the world’s well known companies. Agrawal has played a driving role in the careful transitioning of this large family business into a well-structured regional MNC and has helped VG define and leverage on their areas of competencies and strengths whilst keeping the bigger picture of sustainable and profitable long-term growth consistently in focus. Talking about one of his significant moves at the group, he says, “One of the first things I did when I started spearheading Vishal Group’s FMCG vertical, was develop and implement tech integration in our platform management. It was a sizable investment and a sizable risk given the level of tech literacy in the country and the infrastructural issues with the electricity and internet in Nepal. Since this bold risk, the company’s outperformed itself: we’ve had a three-fold growth in the last seven years and adopting early has paid back and more.” His next aim is to expand the VG ecosystem into hospitality and health/pharmaceuticals in the next five years.

The World Economic Forum (Global Shapers) member is also a national level table-tennis player.

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