The Money Wizard
ALEXANDER GEORGE MUTHOOT, DEPUTY MANAGING DIRECTOR, THE MUTHOOT GROUP
Alexander George Muthoot formally joined the family business in the year 2006 after he returned from the US after completing his studies. Talking about his tryst with the family business, Muthoot shares, “Though I was part of the family business for about four years even prior to going to the US, but I would say my full-fledged involvement in the family business kick-started from 2006 onwards.” From attending office everyday morning along with his father M. G. George Muthoot, Chairman of The Muthoot Group of Companies to attending morning prayer at 9 a.m. sharp (which is a universal prayer across all their branches), being part of morning huddle meetings with senior functionaries, visiting various branches in Delhi and outside along with his father for business reviews were all part of his early involvement in the business.
Muthoot has been driving branch expansion in a big way especially across North, East & West India from 37 branches when he joined in 2006 to +1,800 branches today. Talking about introducing changes in a family business which is 800 years old, Muthoot says, “As an organization, we are very process-driven and since we have carefully thought and well-defined processes in place; it is never difficult to present, deliberate, approve and implement any change or any decision. Hence, to encourage collaboration, we have constituted a Family Board where all suggestions are put forth, discussed, deliberated and once approved, they are meticulously implemented.” Muthoot contributed in a number of areas such as improving the Group’s brand image by engaging the legendary Amitabh Bachchan as the Brand Ambassador, partnering with leading IPL teams like Delhi Daredevils earlier and now with Chennai Super Kings. He also invested heavily on technology, Muthoot Chatbot, to name a few and more importantly focusing on transforming Muthoot Finance from being just a gold-loan company to a diversified financial powerhouse with 20 diversified business divisions.
Going forward, his greatest objective is to make Gold Loans a respectable and preferred choice for credit for every individual, every household and every businessman. To achieve this, he is driving widespread branch expansion plans across India. Currently present in USA, UK, UAE, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka and Nepal he would like to expand the overseas presence to many more countries in the coming years.
The Linen Empress
SUCHITA OSWAL JAIN, VICE CHAIRMAN & JOINT MANAGING DIRECTOR, VARDHMAN TEXTILES
At the time of joining the business, Suchita Oswal Jain was only 22. For the initial few months, she worked closely with the yarn exports, HR and IT (Information technology) teams, trying to absorb the business and streamlining the processes at the same time. “I was fortunate enough to be trained under Shri S P Oswal, a Padma Bhushan Awardee who laid the foundation of this great institution,” shares Jain. Having him as her mentor not only gave her insights into industry but also amplified her passion for this family legacy. In less than a year, she had identified an opportunity that ignited her inner spark - the forward integration of Vardhman Group and setting up of a griege fabric division in Himachal Pradesh. This was an enormous responsibility as everything was to be created from scratch, but she was determined to lead. “We started with establishing a small set up for manufacturing and gradually began exporting, owing to the supreme quality Vardhman is renowned for,” adds Jain.
Jain introduced new marketing strategies, emphasized product development, and widened the product basket at Vardhman. From a production centric business, she took the bold step of moving towards a customer-centric business segment. While Vardhman was a reputed name in yarn industry, proceeding to fashion-fabric business was a new experience altogether. Talking about her interest in the family business, she says, “I had seen my father work towards establishing this business and wanted to expand the horizons further.” Her particularly admires the way she led the establishment of connections with International brands like GAP, Timberland, Target, Banana Republic and Old Navy.
At present she is working towards consolidating the business operations wherein the primary focus will be on textiles only. Suchita has two daughters Saumya and Sagarika. Both were very young when she joined the business. “I would juggle between work and family but got adequate support from my husband and family members. My husband always encouraged me. Now my girls are grown up so I can dedicate more time to the business.”
VINTI SARAF MUTREJA, CEO AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, VINATI ORGANICS
As a child, Vinati used to go to work with her father and learn about the business. Soon after she completed her education, she joined the family business. Sharing her early memories of being introduced to the business environment, Mutreja shares, “I remember going on a “road trip” to Mahad when I was about six years old. Our first factory was just being built then and my sister and I would get very excited because it was called “Vinati”.”
Established in 1989, Vinati Organics Limited (VOL) is a specialty chemical company, focusing on manufacturing specialty chemicals and organic intermediaries. Vinati has turned around the fate of the company by taking some right decisions at the right time. Since her joining in 2006, the revenues have increased from Rs. 66 crore to Rs 1,000 crore. Moreover, she is an inspiration for women who are hesitant to join the STEM industry. Talking about her experience in the industry she says, “It’s an industry where experience is valued and people are judged based on number of years in the field. Initially I thought that people had preconceived notions because of my youth. However, I have realized it is also a result-driven industry and as long as you are able to deliver, age and gender matter very little.” Part of it is conditioning, she remembers her grandmother telling her “You are your parent’s son, you have to take care of the business when you grow up”. On her next business move, she mentions, “We are adding several new products to our portfolio, the biggest being butyl phenols which cater to fragrance and antioxidant industries. We are also looking at more niche chemicals based on value addition.”
At present when women are juggling multiple roles and trying to find a balance, Vinati urges women to keep me-time for themselves. She is quite vocal about finding the right balance between work and home. Work from home during lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic could be overwhelming for some. However, she believes one can be on top of things by following a daily routine, devoting some time for exercise and meditation and eating healthy.
The Mattress Maker
UTTAM MALANI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTUARY MATTRESSES
Belonging to a pedigreed family who has been in several different businesses over the last 100+ years, Uttam Malani is a third-generation entrepreneur whose grandfather founded Centuary Mattresses. A graduate of Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Malani started his career as a ‘Supply Chain Consultant’ at Capgemini in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) before moving to India to join the family business. Having joined Centuary as Management Executive in 2007, Uttam has played a key role right from his initial days at the company wherein he has had to work diligently in order to gain acceptance from internal and external stakeholders as well as make people change-ready. Taking over the mantle as Executive Director in 2013, Uttam’s dedicated involvement at the company has ensured a consistent and continuous growth. Talking about some of the bold moves he has made at the company, Malani says, “Over the last 12 years of being part of the business, some of the moves I have been involved in include creation of the Centuary exclusive retail format for foraying into high-end offerings; setting up of the exports division; private label manufacturing for IKEA; starting the e-commerce division of Centuary way back in 2015 (when e-commerce was largely considered to be just another fad).” Malani was also the early adapters of digitisation, employing a SAP backed ERP architecture; which helped to do away with antiquated MIS and reporting systems; and brought in a new way of running and controlling the business. Talking about the difference in operating style of the father and son, Malani shares, “I tend to be more analytical and data-driven; whereas my father belongs to the golden generation of Indian entrepreneurs who have achieved much success by backing their gut and taking bold decisions.” Some of the plans he recently executed or are the launch of product extensions into baby mattress and sleep accessories category.
THE ANCIENT HEALER
VEDIKA SHARMA, DIRECTOR & FOUNDER MANTRA HERBAL & PRESIDENT BAIDYANATH JHANSI
Vedika Sharma comes from a family that has been in the business of Ayurveda since over 100 years. Growing up in a business environment, all her dinner conversations were invariably about work, business or Ayurveda and that made her understand the basics of running a business and the fundamentals of Ayurveda.
Once she completed her studies in the UK and came back to India, she worked with a few different organizations. Though she always planned to eventually start her own marketing agency a part of hers always also wanted to do something in the field of Ayurveda and promote the practice of Ayurveda across the globe. Reminiscing the same Sharma says, “I realized during my time in London that my friends there knew more about Ayurveda and Yoga than my friends back home and that’s when I decided I wanted to join the family business and spread the knowledge about Ayurveda in my generation.”
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