Mukesh Ambani© GettyImages/AFP

HELLO! 100 Most Influential: Mukesh Ambani

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Suhel Seth

Why he matters: The world is familiar with the businessman who built an empire and his legacy that’s rooted in its Indianness. Here, acclaimed columnist Suhel Seth introduces us to the friend who cares deeply, the leader who inspires the lakhs he employs, and the sharp mind that’s devoted to his country and family.

I have known Mukesh Ambani for almost three decades. What’s remarkable about this man is he wears both his wealth and his intellect very lightly. In the last 30 years, I’ve seen him remain unflinchingly focused no matter what the crisis or the distraction. Many are perhaps unaware of how much of a voracious reader he is, coupled with a memory that is phenomenal.

A man is known by the tenure of his friends, and no one epitomises that more than Mukesh does. He has friends and not a coterie. Friends who he cares for deeply and in a way that extends to every member of their families. Much has been written about his acumen, but very few know that if there’s someone who can inspire a team, it’s him. He inspires them by being part of their journey and not someone who issues orders. Which is why when Reliance split, most chose to stay with Mukesh!

mukesh ambani©AFP

I had the honour of meeting Dhirubhai Ambani only twice in my life, and there’s so much of him in Mukesh that it’s unimaginable. But then Mukesh, to my mind, has gone beyond the legacy he inherited and is quietly creating one of his own. A legacy built on scale and size, infused with a vision that’s fiercely Indian. For many, Mukesh represents Big Business. For me, he represents someone who’s avowedly proud of and a believer in “Indian Potential” and the “Indian Dream.”

A personal anecdote will give you an insight into the man: in November 2019, my wife Lakshmi and I were blessed with our daughter Gayatri, and she was born in Goa. In January 2020, the whole Ambani family was in Goa, and Mukesh called to say they wanted to come over to our home and see Gayatri, who was all of three months. I told Mukesh it’d be easier for us to come over to where they were staying, at the Grand Hyatt, and off we went.

Openings Of Neeta Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre In Mumbai©GettyImages

Given that the baby had to sleep early, we agreed on evening tea. When the three of us reached, every member of the family was present to see Gayatri, and I’ll never forget the manner in which Nita Ambani held and played with the infant. The spread was magnificent, but what was even more endearing was the undiluted love. The love of someone who cares. We got back home, and the next day, a hand-written note from Nita and a huge hamper of goodies arrived, each of the goodies carefully selected by her. So when Mukesh makes a public statement of the love and strength he derives from Nita, every word is true. Nita remains the bulwark of his life. And in a charming way, shares the sameDNA of empathy and compassion.

For the rest, Mukesh Ambani is one of the world’s richest men. For me, his real wealth is not the size of his bank account but the size of his heart, a man truly devoted to his country and his family.

To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!