Isha Ambani© HelloIndia

HELLO! 100 Most Influential: Isha Ambani

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Sangeeta Waddwani

Why she matters: Arguably the brightest spark among the Gen Y Ambanis, she possesses a propensity to identify potential businesses, lead fantastic mergers and sniff out which way the winds of change are headed. Sangeeta Waddhwani offers a fresh lens on the heiress.

There’s a near panic attack among the Dior event team members. The Ambani limo has arrived on site! As though expecting a public stampede, the team joins hands to form a protective cordon around these VIP guests, requesting all around to stop recording Isha Ambani stepping out of her car, as if it’s too private a moment!

Hilariously, our billion-dollar heiress simply sails in, wearing a rather nondescript yet elegant ensemble that covers her from neck to toe. The only giveaway that she cares about style and the occasion is the Dior handbag dangling from her wrist and the hand of her future sister-in-law, Radhika Merchant.

In a time given to instant gratification, it’s Isha whose issue with her home internet connection led her father to galvanise the now ubiquitous Jio data network, which has outdone every other carrier in the country. Scaling a venture to its highest potential is an Ambani trait, and Isha embodied this when she got Facebook to invest US$5.7 billion in a merger deal, with companies like Google, Qualcomm and Intel. And in record time, Jio reached a US$65 billion private valuation and amassed 400 million subscribers!

With India poised to be the third-largest economy in the world, the Ambani stake in the country’s retail sector is only expanding, with Reliance Retail Ventures raking in US$20.6 billion in 2022. Isha is credited with growing AJIO Luxe, the online vertical for luxury shopping that’s been tagged by the media as a ‘when classy went massy’ venture. But it’s strategically on point, as a rising middle to upper-middle class aspires to own Pradas, Jimmy Choos and even local luxury labels, but would typically be more comfortable surfing prices and deals in private, away from the offending glares of condescending shop staff.

A timely extension of her retail ventures is Tira Beauty, an omnichannel beauty retail platform. Isha is set to give the Nykaas, Myntras and other such beauty behemoths a run for their money. Tira aims to offer a more personalised shopping experience, with both homegrown and international labels.

The brand comes with a dedicated app and a website, as well as an offline experiential store at Jio World Drive in Mumbai. Statistics show that the luxury market in India will reach US$7.74 billion in 2023-24, with online platforms accounting for a projected 10 percent by 2025.

As we can see, the young and on-it heiress is not skipping a beat. Gaining a total monopoly on any sector is the Ambani trump card, whether it was oil rigs back in the day, or the world of telecom, data networks, media ownership and, of course, the galloping retail sector, where at last count, Reliance owned 16,000 stores countrywide.

As they say, business is business, nothing but civilised warfare. However, with the Ambanis, the third-generation fights a different fight. They understand that in a tech-enabled, interconnected world, winning is all about staying relevant, acting and living in the moment. After all, ‘Jio,’ translated to English, literally means ‘live.’

A mother of two, we can see Isha teaching her children, the fourth-generation of half Ambanis, the sacred truth behind the family’s legendary success.

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