Indian businesswomen have proved that the world of business is not only a man’s world. Indian businesswomen have proved their mettle and truly deserve the worldwide credit they are receiving. Forbes has revealed its list of ‘Asia’s Most Powerful Businesswomen to Watch’ and 9 Indian women are present on this esteemed list.
Vinita Bali is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Britannia Industries. Bali has transformed Britannia into a household name and its within-the-budget biscuits have flourished immensely in the country. The ‘5 Packs’ of biscuits were a revolutionary idea in the FMCG business. Not only well-known in homes but, Bali has helped Britannia become the largest listed food company of India. Her experience from working in major firms, like – Coca-Cola and Cadbury Schweppes have gained her the much sought after expertise to run such a large empire. This has helped her gain exhaustive knowledge of sales, marketing and management in packaged foods and beverages. Forbes has placed Britannia among ‘Top 200 Small Companies of the World.’ It is also 2nd most trusted brand in India. Bali is currently chalking out strategies to balance cost and price, as raw material costs are rising for FMCG products. Keeping the current slowdown in mind, she is also preparing to revise her plans for the products.
Shobhana Bhartia is the Editorial Director and Chairperson of the Hindustan Times Group. Her shift towards media is something new as she hails from the grand family of the Birlas. Still, she has emerged as the reigning queen of print media. With media giants, like The Time Group, in the limelight, Bhartia has not given up and has raised Hindustan Times to a national status. In the year 1986, she was the first woman CEO of Hindustan Times and also the youngest. She is deemed the driving force behind the successful revamping of Hindustan Times as “a bright, young paper.” In the year 2001, she made an investment of 4 billion to challenge their main competitor, Times of India. This was how she had openly declared war on TOI. Vir Sanghvi was appointed as the Editor of HT in 2009. She even added 5 more supplements to make up for their drawback. It even adopted the marketing strategies of TOI, namely – ad campaigns, promotions and events. Her fresh and innovative ideas have infused new life into the Hindustan Times Group.
Chanda Kochchar is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of ICICI Bank. Without a doubt, she is the woman behind making ICICI as India’s largest private sector bank. She is so adept at managing her workforce that N. Ramkumar, Chief Human Resources Officer of ICICI Bank, says that she can even “command an army.” K.V. Kamath still fondly remembers her for her focus. In a man’s world of investment banking, Kochchar has emerged as the leading investment lady. Still, she recalls her early days, “It was not easy to visit a factory” and “There was a lot of social pressure – people didn’t expect a young girl could check machines.” She says that the only 2 values which have helped her scale such great heights are – perfection and integrity. The one driving force of her determination is passion. She quotes, “My passion lies in the pursuit of excellence – can I do it very well, better than others?” She believes in “recognizing challenge in its entirety, and taking it head on.” Her sheer hard-work reflects in ICICI’s profits. It reported a 30 percent increase in Q1 of 2011-12.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the Managing Director and Chairman of Biocon. She is among the most industrious of Indian entrepreneurs. She got the idea to start Biocon after working for Biocon Bio-chemicals. She withstood and successfully overcame initial hurdles like – lack of funding and unproven business model. Sheer determination helped her sail through such rough times. She also overcame the next obstacle of the required technology in the field of bio-technology. Shaw can be seen as sort of a pioneer in the field of bio-tech. She has inspired countless people to pursue bio-tech, especially women. Shaw has literally single-handedly shaped and changed the face of bio-technology in the country. She is solely responsible for channeling Biocon towards development and modernization. Shaw is the only reason behind Biocon’s overnight success. It became the first biotech corporation of India to receive funding from the U.S. for proprietary technologies in the year 1989. In 1990, Shaw improved Biocon’s in-house research programme. Biocon even went for a joint venture with Cuban Center of Molecular Immunology. Biocon became a high-profiled IPO in 2004, with its value being oversubscribed 32 times. Its market value shot to a whopping ₨55.95 billion on its first day on the trade listings. This earned Biocon a position as the 2nd Indian firm to have a first day IPO crossing the ₨50.4 billion mark. Biocon also has more than 2,200 R&D licenses and entered into other emerging nations through M&A.
Ekta Kapoor is the head of Balaji Telefims. This unapologetic and strong-willed woman of ‘K-soaps’ truly deserves the title of TV serial queen. She is the one who has not only revolutionized the Indian TV serial field but also added zing and peppiness to it. TV serials before her period were immensely entraining and educational but she raises the bar one up. People who personally know her agree that she never compromises with quality. This can be a reason why her TV shows not only sell stories but also characters. The glam quotient now so very apparent in TV shows these days is also her doing. She has changed the face of Indian TV shows by introducing the never-ending saga of ‘Saas-Bahu’ shows. Very few people in the TV industry have achieved half of what this lady has done. She has faced setbacks as well but never gives up or in to challenges.
Zia Mody is the legal consultant and trustee at Baha’i Faith in India. Mody has quite a few laurels in her cap. The very modest Mody has been garnered with many accolades. She was awarded the title of ‘Business Woman of the Year’ in 2010 by The Economic Times. She has made her presence felt in the prestigious honour of ‘The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers’ and ‘The International Who’s Who of Commercial Arbitration.’ Financial Express awarded her the ‘Business Woman of the Year.’ Business Today has placed her on the list of ‘25 Most Powerful Women in Indian Business’ in – in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Economic Times placed her on ‘India’s 100 Most Powerful CEOs’ from 2004 to 2008. The American Lawyer calls Mody as one among the ‘country’s leading stars.’ Global Counsel 3000 calls her a ‘Highly Recommended Lawyer.’ She got ‘Lawyer of the Year’ in 2009 and was featured in ‘Asia’s top 25 M&A Lawyers’ in Asian Legal Business in the same year.
Shikha Sharma is the CEO and MD of Axis Bank, India. Sharma might be of a compact frame but delivers results like a wiz. Her career started with ICICI Bank in the field of personal financial services. Narayanan Vaghul, former chairman of ICICI Bank, quotes the typical reaction of women in the field of finance, “A lot of people were skeptical.” But as fate would have it, Sharma proved all such disbelievers wrong. Vaghul was the one who urged Sharma to head ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. ICICI Prudential Life Insurance has been the most successful insurance firm in India under her, with over 200,000 policies been sold. Vaghul further says, “She built an entire new business in insurance and became a leader in no time.” She started heading Axis Bank in the year 2009. Her work on Axis Bank has shown outstanding results since. Its Q3 (2011-12) results are as follows – it registered a rise of 23.5 percent in Net interest income, a year-on-year rise from 1,733 crore to 2,140 crore. She thanks ICICI Bank to give her the much needed boost in a period of turmoil. “The opportunities I got at ICICI, I would have never got elsewhere. I think God has a design for each one of us.”
Mallika Srinivasan is the CEO of Tractors and Farm Equipment (TAFE). The moment one hears of tractors and farming, the image of a typical farmer flashes by. So, it is only natural for people to think that a man would head such a firm. Still, Srinivasan handles her tasks deftly. A successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, Srinivasan has all the right qualities. Economic Times called her Businesswoman of the Year in 2006. She is also ranked among the top woman CEOs of the nation. Though she has inherited the family business, it was her choice to join the team. Her father was her supporter and mentor and has been since. She helped the company go from a turnover of 85 crore to 1,200 crore. In the period of testing times, her decision to invest 70 crore in product designing and development helped the company sail through. It is commonly agreed upon that Srinivasan’s determination and courage has helped TAFE rise like a phoenix. Apart from catering to a niche market, TAFE has diversified into – farm implements, hydraulic pumps, automotive batteries gears, panel instruments and engineering plastics.
Roshni Nadar Malhotra
Roshni Nadar Malhotra is the Executive Director and CEO of HCL Technologies. She is also a trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation. She is regarded as someone who brings an international view and fervor to work for her firms. Her age also plays an important role in infusing the firm with new ideas. She is in charge of strategic decisions in both the firms. She is also the powerhouse behind VidyaGyan schools in UP. VidyaGyan provides free education to rural children. To Nadar, helping the under-privileged is a noble task. Forbes calls Nadar and Nisha Godrej as “a breed of heiresses who choose to live a lower-key life and working to make a difference behind the scenes.” It further says, “These women to a degree illustrate that being the relative of a billionaire is not just about the money or the lifestyle so commonly associated with it. It’s about the high standards, set by their family that they aspire to reach.” Shi is also a board member at SSN Institutions.