Why he matters: Always one step ahead of the game, this commodities king has strived to keep his company relevant and innovative, no mean feat for a group with its roots in a 150-year-old organisation. From industrial products to retail and telecom, today, his Aditya Birla Group generates over US$60 billion, with a presence in over 36 countries.
Taking over the reins after the demise of his father Aditya Birla in 1995, Kumar Mangalam Birla inherited a typical family company, with its roots in Rajasthan and base in Kolkata, and steadily turned it into a global conglomerate.
His strategy for growth centered around the acquisition of pre-existing companies, starting with the Indian Aluminum Company (INDAL) in 2000, followed by the acquisition of Nifty Copper mines in Australia in 2003. Swiftly, the very next year, he bought a majority stake in L&T Cement, which we know today as UltraTech Cement.
Acquisitions and mergers continued in the industrial commodities space until KMB decided to diversify his group’s interests, foraying into retail with the takeover of Future Group’s Pantaloons Retail Chain.
Custodians of Success
A mark of a generational businessman is gauging the future requirements of the company, given its next generation of custodians. In this, the Birla family has shown great astuteness, balancing thecapabilities of their promoters with the demands of the market and strategising accordingly.
Using an age-old system of inculcating the young into business by introducing them to the accounts of the companies at an early age, the Birlas have managed to have their assets change hands seamlessly from generation to generation.
The Aditya Birla Group’s acquisition of stakes in luxury brands such as Sabyasachi, Shantnu & Nikhil and the House of Masaba, apart from entering the mediascape by reviving Applause Entertainment is incredibly admirable. And for the first time, they have also stepped foot into the paints business, with an investment of Rs 5,000 crore, highlighting their impressive breadth and bandwidth, something only possible with the steadfast vision and leadership of Kumar Mangalam Birla.
The businessman’s impressive range of philanthropic activities is also worth a mention, as is his promotion of educational institutions, being the chancellor of the family-run Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani.
To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!