Most Powerful CEOs of India Inc. for the Year 2012

1. Ratan Naval Tata,Chairman,Tata Group

I don’t believe in taking right decisions. I take decisions and then make them right

Ratan Naval Tata

Rank: 1
Also known as: India’s ‘most eligible bachelor’, even at 75
Theatre of Operations: IT, Communications, Engineering, Materials, Chemicals, Services, Consumer Products, Energy – all with global footprints
Did you know that: Upon graduating, he turned down an offer from IBM on the advice of JRD Tata
Started his career with: Tata Steel, on the shop floor
Leadership style: Aloof and understated, but always on the ball
Favourite Allies: His German Shepherds
Thorn in his side: His connection with the 2G spectrum scam
If he weren’t leading a $71 billion conglomerate, he’d be: Flying planes
Family: Brother Jimmy, half-brother Noel and three half-sisters
Latest project: Pouring $15 million into a project researching water as fuel
Exit Strategy: Cyrus Pallonji Mistry will take charge from December 2012
Farewell Note: This will be RNT’s last appearance on CD’s ‘Most Powerful CEO’ list

2. Mukesh D Ambani, Chairman & Managing Director, Reliance Industries

The organizational architecture is really that a centipede walks on hundred legs and one or two don’t count. So if I lose one or two legs, the process will go on, the organization will go on, the growth will go on. “

Mukesh D Ambani

Rank: 2
Theatre of Operations: Petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles and retail
Bragging rights: The second-richest man in Asia, he heads the largest Indian private sector conglomerate. Also, owner of the second-richest sports club in the world (Mumbai Indians), according to Forbes
It’s in his genes: Thinks scale, like his father, the late Dhirubhai Ambani
Started his career with: Reliance Industries (RIL)
Leadership style: Relationship-based, entrepreneurial
Family: Husband to Nita, father to Akash, Anant and Isha
Cool Friend: Anand Jain
Big indulgence: Antilia, the $2billion home he’s built on Altamount Road, Mumbai

3. Kumar Mangalam Birla,Chairman, Aditya Birla Group

Tough times don’t last, tough people do

Kumar Mangalam Birla

Rank: 3
Theatre of Operations: At 43, the Chairman of the $35 billion Aditya Birla Group, has his hands full with a business that traverses almost every sector from retail to financial services and brands such as Hindalco, Ultratech Cement and Idea Cellular in his quiver
First Steps: Scion of the Birla family, he took over as Chairman of the group after the sudden demise of his father, Aditya Birla, in 1995
Bragging Rights: At 28, he became the youngest Indian to chair a multi-billion dollar conglomerate and has successfully steered the highly diversified AV Birla ship through thick and thin
Power Buddies: Ratan Tata, Sanjeev Goenka
Preferred Gulp: Diet Coke
Little Known Fact: He learnt how to shoot with a rifle three years ago and is now shooting with the camera
When not working: Family and movies

4. Azim Hashim Premji ,Chairman, Wipro

As you get bigger, you have to delegate. It’s also an excellent way to get staff involved in the company’s operations

Azim Hashim Premji

Rank: 4
Started his career with: Wipro, whose reins he took after dropping out of Stanford at 21, following the sudden demise of his father. At that time, Wipro made hydrogenated cooking fat. . ”
Big bet that didn’t pay: Three years after appointing two CEOs to navigate Wipro, the duo was suddenly removed and replaced.
Bet that might pay: All recent announcements are headlined by his son and chief strategy officer Rishad Premji, signaling a possible power shift
Icon: JRD Tata
Act of do-goodery: Transferred 8.6% of his stake in the company worth about Rs 8,646 crore to the Azim Premji Foundation. This is the biggest act of individual philanthropy in India
Leadership style: Knows every small detail of his businesses, but does not interfere with everyday operations of the various independent business heads
Family ties: Husband to Yasmeen, father to Rishad and Tariq
Little known fact: Wipro is the second-largest hydraulic cylinder company in the world
When not working: Enjoys trekking and loves watching movies; he often turns to his senior executives for recommendations
Recent Accolade: Was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2011

5. Chanda Kochhar ,Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, ICICI Bank

Demands do not go up or down – they are constantly there. Often, you feel you are doing too much.

Chanda Kochhar

Rank: 5
Started her career with: ICICI Bank, straight out of B-school
Bragging Rights: A regular fixture on Global ‘Most Powerful Women’ lists since 2005
Accolade: Conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2010
Leadership Style: Meticulous, demands excellence
As a child: Wanted to be an IAS Officer
Little known fact: Used to read the Satyanarayan Katha every day. Now reads it fortnightly because of time constraints.
Stress buster: The latest Hindi movies with the family.
Family ties: Husband Deepak, children Aarti and Arjun

6. Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC

You can’t manufacture culture. Culture builds in an organization over a period of time. And the tone at the top must be integrity and value systems.

Deepak Parekh

Rank: 6
Theatre of Operations: India’s leading home finance company
First Job: Ernst & Young, New York
Accolade: Padma Bhushan awardee in 2006
Personal Icons: Warren Buffet, Peter Drucker
Activism: Has been a vocal critic of the government, writing two open letters on the governance deficit and policy paralysis in the past year itself
Bitten By: Chocolate-covered biscuits
Stress buster: Hindi music, bridge and Wimbledon
Little known fact: Hosts one of Mumbai’s best-attended Christmas brunches

7. AM Naik, Chairman & Managing Director, Larsen & Toubro

L&T is my hobby, the rest is work.

AM Naik

Rank: 7
Theatre of Operations: A $11billion engineering and construction powerhouse that covers everything from nuclear power to switchgears
First Job: Nestor Boilers
Role model: His father, a freedom fighter and schoolteacher
Leadership Style: Works hard and expects everyone else to do so. Will not tolerate mediocrity
Big Transition: Steps away from active management to overseeing long-term strategic initiatives
Advocates: Meritocracy over seniority
Diplomatic Coup: Honorary Consul General for Denmark
Workaholic: Never took a day off for the first 21 years of his career
Life outside L&T: Expanding his old school in Kharel, Gujarat. Been appointed director of IIM-A
Hidden talent: Is a skilled artist
Guilty pleasure: Desserts

8. Anand G Mahindra, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Mahindra Group

There is a degree of freedom that creates aspiration

Anand G Mahindra

Rank: 8
Theatre of Operations: A $12.5 billion conglomerate spanning auto, IT and timeshare resorts
First Love: Mahindra majored in films and photography before getting his MBA from Harvard
Bragging Rights: Turning around the scam-hit Satyam Computers after acquiring it three years ago
Rocky Road: The company has had a less than successful track record with joint ventures over the years
Culturally Connect: Behind India’s first Blues Festival and actively promotes theatre and sports as well
Social Connect: One of India Inc’s most active CEOs on Twitter, with close to 5 lakh followers
Notable Firsts: Mahindra Racing is the first Indian team to participate in the MotoGP
Most likely to be seen: Training for the Mumbai marathon or indulging in his new hobby, sailing

9. Adi Godrej, Chairman, Godrej Group

It is giving back to society and helping society get better so that your business ultimately flourishes even better in the long term.

Adi Godrej

Rank: 9
Theatre of Operations: Has a footprint in almost all emerging economies
Green Thumb: Developed a green business campus in Vikhroli, Mumbai covering 150 acres of mangroves. Set up the Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Marine Ecology Center
Cool Toys: A 60-foot Ferretti yacht
Travel bug: Has been to over 70 countries and will try and fit in extensive sightseeing even if he’s on a work trip
On weekends: Can be seen jet skiing or indulging in water sports with his grandchildren
Powerful Friends: Anil Ambani
Act of do-goodery: Key supporter of the World Wildlife Fund in India; also involved with several philanthropic activities
Family Ties: Wife Parmeshwar, children Tanya, Nisa and Pirojsha, two grandkids

10. Kundapur Vaman Kamath, Chairman, Infosys Ltd. & Non-Executive Chairman of ICICI Bank

To build a successful business, you have to be able to pick entrepreneurs very early and get them embedded into the business. They need to go out into the ecosystem, demonstrate their abilities, nurture the business and build it up

Kundapur Vaman Kamath

Rank: 10
Theatre of Operations: KV Kamath wears many hats – Chairman of Infosys, the second-largest IT services company in India; non-executive Chairman of ICICI Bank, India’s largest private bank where he served as MD and CEO from 1996 to 2009; also, independent director of Houston-based oil services company Schlumberger
Started his career with: In 1971 with ICICI in the Project Finance division and moved on to different departments to gather rich and varied experience, which included setting up of new businesses, such as leasing, venture capital, credit rating as well as handling general management positions
Bragging Rights: In less than ten years, KV Kamath has built so much trust around ICICI Bank that a large number of respondents in sundry banking-related surveys mistake it for a public sector undertaking. Besides, KVK is known as a mentor par excellence having groomed the likes of the current MD & CEO of ICICI Bank Chanda Kocchar, MD & CEO of Axis Bank Shikha Sharma, CEO of JP Morgan India Kalpana Morparia, MD of Future Capital V Vaidyanathan and a host of others
Power Buddies: Mukesh Ambani, NR Narayana Murty
Family Ties: Husband to Rajalaxmi; father to son Ajay and daughter Ajnya; grandfather to Nandan K Pai and Lakshman K Pai
Preferred Gulp: The occasional single malt
Little Known Fact: He’s a keen follower of Formula One
Accolade: Conferred with Padma Bhushan in 2008.



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