57, NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RELIANCE INDUSTRIES; CO-OWNER, MUMBAI INDIANS (NEW)
NOBODY SAYS no to a party hosted by Nita Ambani. They are glittering affairs, where the A-list—top-flight CEOs, Bollywood heartthrobs, sports stars, familiar TV anchors, politicians, the list is endless—congregate. But what makes her special is her willingness to pull in the same sort of crowd on someone else’s behalf.
In July 2016, at a debutante’s book launch, the guests, thanks to Nita’s generosity, were no different. They included Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, Godrej Group chairman Adi Godrej, HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, Piramal Group chairman Ajay Piramal, then ICICI Bank MD & CEO Chanda Kochhar, Tata Trusts trustee R.K. Krishna Kumar, AZB & Partners cofounder Zia Mody, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, and dozens of other leading entrepreneurs, bankers, and CEOs. Also present was Nita’s husband and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani.
“Nita’s organisational skills are honed to virtual perfection. She can put together a large-scale event overnight.... [and] with a personal touch,” says Zia Mody of AZB & Partners, a close business associate of the Ambani family. HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, who has known the Ambani family for decades, says Nita’s obsession for detail and excellence is something that is evident in everything she touches. “Philanthropy, education, art, healthcare, sports, and cultural activities are some of the ones that most know about.”
Nita is a woman of many parts. She is founder and chairperson of the Reliance Foundation and the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, co-owner of Mumbai Indians, a trustee of New York’s The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and holds non-executive directorships at RIL and EIH Ltd. This year, she also addressed RIL’s 43rd annual general meeting for the first time.
The Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai, which she set up in 2003, was Nita’s first big move. Regarded as a premier school in the country, it is among the few to be jointly accredited by the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Ajay Piramal, chairman of the Piramal Group, who too has known Nita for a while, and whose son Anand is married to her daughter Isha, says Nita’s drive for excellence is best evidenced in the school:
“Most take several decades, if not centuries, to establish themselves as elite institutions but the Dhirubhai Ambani school did it in just about 10 or 12 years, and its quality is recognised not just in India, but abroad as well.”
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