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The next generation gets ready to take over India’s biggest businesses

Gen-Next is beginning to take charge. They're not just taking forward old businesses but striking new ground in new spaces. Here's a look at their journey

Kavin Bharti Mittal. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Kavin Bharti Mittal. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Kavin Bharti Mittal

Age: 29

Education: Electronics and electrical engineering with management, Imperial College, London

Position: Founder and chief executive officer, Hike Ltd

The son of telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal, who along with his family has a net worth of $8.4 billion (around Rs53,760 crore)—the flagship company, Bharti Airtel Ltd, founded almost four decades ago, has a total market cap of over Rs1.6 trillion—has moved away from the father’s shadow to start from scratch. Kavin launched two start-ups while still in college. In 2008, at the age of 20, the Mittal scion set up AppSpark, an app company for iPhone users. The next year, he launched a movie-ticketing app, Movies Now, for iPhone users. On his return to India in 2012, Kavin built Hike Messenger, an app-messaging platform.

This year, Hike Messenger acquired Creo—a Bengaluru-based technology start-up that makes the dual-SIM (micro and nano SIM) smartphone Mark 1. Hike has raised around $175 million from Chinese internet giant Tencent and electronic maker Foxconn.

In June, Hike launched a mobile payment tool, Hike Wallet, built within its messenger. The wallet supports UPI (unified payments interface) based payments. “We are laying the foundation for something bigger. Payments will enable us to generate revenue on the platform," Kavin told Mint in a June interview.

Rishad Premji. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Rishad Premji

Age: 40

Education: MBA, Harvard Business School

Position: Chief strategy officer, Wipro Ltd

Rishad Premji, son of billionaire Azim Premji, is chief strategy officer and member of the board at Wipro Ltd and leads the investor relations and corporate affairs functions for the company.

In 2015, he conceptualized Wipro Ventures, a $100 million (around Rs640 crore) investment arm of India’s third largest software services firm Wipro, to invest in start-ups developing technologies and solutions. In July, Wipro Ventures invested an undisclosed amount in New York-based venture capital fund Work-Bench, its second investment in a venture capital fund. Last year, it invested in Israel-based TLV Partners. Wipro Ventures has invested $32 million in 10 start-ups and two venture capital firms. “The total capital deployed till date (by Wipro Ventures) is about $32 million. We have worked with our investee companies in over 80 client engagements and won seven deals together in the first quarter of this financial (year)," a Wipro spokesman told Mint in July. Nine of Wipro Ventures’ 12 investments are in the US, two in Israel and one in India.

Rishad also oversees mergers and acquisitions, and, over the last two years, Wipro Ventures has been the most aggressive among Indian IT services companies, having spent $1.14 billion in buying five firms, including Denmark-based design venture Designit and US-based cloud computing enterprise Appirio Inc.

Jai Anmol Ambani. Photo: PTI

Jai Anmol Ambani

Age: 25

Education: Bachelor’s degree in management from Warwick Business School, UK

Position: Executive director, Reliance Capital Ltd

It was only last year that Jai Anmol Ambani, son of billionaire Anil Ambani, who has a net worth of $3.3 billion (around Rs21,120 crore), joined the board of Reliance Capital Ltd, which has life insurance, general insurance, home finance and asset management arms. At Reliance Capital Ltd’s annual general meeting last year, chairman Anil Ambani had said his son has been “lucky" for the company. Last month, under Jai Anmol’s leadership, the company announced an employee stock option (ESOP) scheme with a notional value of Rs300 crore. The first task that the father has handed over to his son is to use technology in the workplace to take the company ahead. During an analyst meeting in March, Jai Anmol had said that the company plans to take digital initiatives in all businesses to serve new-age customers. Prior to joining the board, he worked at Reliance Capital from 2014 in various capacities, learning the ropes at the various financial services that the company offers.

Disclaimer: Reliance Group companies have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay high court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.

Isha and Akash Ambani. Photo: Milind Shelte/India Today Group
Isha and Akash Ambani. Photo: Milind Shelte/India Today Group

Isha and Akash Ambani

Ages: 25

Education: Akash studied at Brown University, US; Isha went to Yale University, US

Position: Board members, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd

The year 2017 can be considered a landmark one for the Ambanis. Isha and her twin brother Akash addressed investors at the annual general meeting (AGM) of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on 21 July for the first time, introducing the 4G-enabled feature phone Jio Phone. Isha described the details of the product while Akash showcased its functionality.

The two have been board members of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd since October 2014; Akash is chief of strategy as well. Their father Mukesh Ambani, whose net worth is estimated at $38.8 billion (around Rs2.4 trillion), said during the AGM: “Jio is a young organization and Akash and Isha, our directors at Jio, both 25, lead a large contingent of success-hungry and highly talented professionals."

The Ivy League school-educated twins are on the board of Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd as well. And Isha, who worked as a business analyst at global consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. Inc. for a few months before joining the family businesses, is more closely involved with the retail arm, having conceptualized and launched its online fashion portal,, in April 2016.

These millennials introduced an open-plan layout at Reliance Corporate Park on Mumbai’s outskirts, with no private cabins for senior management, including their father. The initiative “has fostered a culture of collaboration and openness—key to building a successful technology start-up, even one with immense backing," said Akash in an interview to GQ India magazine in August.

Akash studied economics at Brown University while Isha has a double major in psychology and South Asian studies from Yale University.

Though it is evident that Mukesh Ambani is handholding both his children, as seen during the AGM, he hasn’t yet elucidated on the course he would like them to take.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Roshni Nadar Malhotra. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Roshni Nadar Malhotra

Age: 35

Education: MBA in social enterprise management and strategy, Kellogg School of
Management, US

Position: Chief executive officer, HCL Corporation Pvt. Ltd

As the CEO of HCL Corporation Pvt. Ltd, the unlisted private holding company of HCL Technologies Ltd and HCL Infosystems Ltd, the buck stops with Roshni Nadar Malhotra, the only child of Shiv Nadar, the founder and majority shareholder of HCL Technologies Ltd, a software developer and outsourcing provider.

HCL Corporation has a more than 50% stake in both HCL Infosystems and HCL Technologies. According to Bloomberg, Nadar Malhotra is responsible for strategic decisions, including the key areas of determining its governance structures, treasury, risk and portfolio management. In fact, she started out in HCL Corporation with the company’s treasury operations.

She serves as a trustee of the non-profit Shiv Nadar Foundation, which was set up in 1994 by Shiv Nadar, who has a net worth of $13.5 billion (around Rs86,400 crore). The foundation has established the SSN Institutions, Shiv Nadar University, VidyaGyan Leadership Academies, Shiv Nadar Schools, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and Shiksha, a technology-led intervention in rural education to eradicate illiteracy. Malhotra is more focused on the VidyaGyan schools in Uttar Pradesh, which help rural children from economically challenged backgrounds. The first batch of VidyaGyan students graduated from the academy in 2016. Under her leadership, the Shiv Nadar Foundation carried out a joint initiative with Rajiv Gandhi Foundation to promote the education of Dalit and Muslim girl child in some of the most backward districts in Uttar Pradesh.

She graduated from Northwestern University, where she studied communication, with a focus on radio, television and film. She has worked with channels such as Sky News in London.

Roshni is married to Shikhar Malhotra, who is the vice-chairman of HCL Healthcare, director and board member of HCL Corporation, and a trustee of Shiv Nadar Foundation. They have two sons.

Pirojsha Adi Godrej. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Pirojsha Adi Godrej

Age: 37

Education: Graduated from Wharton School of Business and completed master’s in international affairs from Columbia University, and MBA from Columbia Business School

Position: Executive chairman, Godrej Properties Ltd

Pirojsha Adi Godrej, son of Adi Godrej, who has a net worth of $2.9 billion (around Rs18,560 crore), took over as the executive chairman of Godrej Properties Ltd (GPL), the real-estate arm of Godrej Group, in April. Before joining GPL in 2004, Pirojsha worked as additional private secretary to the minister of state for external affairs in New Delhi and interned in the New York senate office of Hillary Clinton.

After two years at GPL, he enrolled for MBA at Columbia Business School. He rejoined GPL in 2008 as executive director. Pirojsha led the initial public offering in 2010 that enabled Godrej Properties to raise $100 million (around Rs640 crore). Two years later, he was appointed managing director and chief executive officer. Under his leadership, the company has closed deals, enabling it to grow at a time when weak consumer sentiment and unsold inventories had hit the property market (for instance, in 2015 Godrej Properties closed India’s largest commercial real-estate deal with pharmaceutical firm Abbott India Ltd for Rs1,479 crore). At present, Godrej Properties is developing residential, commercial and township projects spread across about 13.5 million sq. m in 12 cities.

Sharvil P. Patel.

Sharvil P. Patel

Age: 38

Education: Doctorate, University of Sunderland, UK

Position: Managing director, Cadila Healthcare Ltd

Pankaj R. Patel, with a net worth of $5.9 billion (around 37,760 crore), stepped down as managing director of Cadila Healthcare Ltd in July, to pave the way for his son Sharvil P. Patel, the new managing director. This was part of the succession planning, according to a regulatory filing by Cadila Healthcare.

Pankaj said in the filing that Sharvil had been associated with the company for close to two decades and had been actively associated in managing the business for over a decade. According to Bloomberg, if the stock market is any guide, Sharvil has inherited one of the top generic drug manufacturers in the world.

The third-generation Cadila Healthcare scion graduated in chemical and pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Sunderland and completed the doctorate, doing research work in breast cancer at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, US.

Pankaj will continue to be the chairman and mentor his son. Cadila was founded by Ramanbhai, Pankaj Patel’s father and the firm now has a market value of almost $8 billion and annual revenue of about $1.4 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Anand Piramal.

Anand Piramal

Age: 32

Education: MBA, Harvard Business School

Position: Non-executive, non-independent director of Piramal Enterprises Ltd

In August, Anand Piramal, billionaire Ajay Piramal’s son, was appointed non-executive, non-independent director of Piramal Enterprises Ltd. In a statement, the father, who has a net worth of $5.5 billion (around Rs35,200 crore), said investing in and preparing the next generation of leaders is a critical priority.

Anand heads Piramal Realty, which was founded in 2012, and focuses on the Mumbai region only. Under his leadership, Piramal Realty has raised a total of Rs2,700 crore from global investment firms Goldman Sachs and Warburg Pincus. The company, which started off in the residential segment, recently announced that it would be investing Rs2,400 crore in its first commercial project—a 16-acre corporate park in Mumbai. It is now looking to buy land in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region to expand its commercial real estate business.

Early this year, the company decided to invest around Rs1,800 crore in its new residential project in suburban Mumbai. Prior to Piramal Realty, Anand built Piramal Swasthya (started as a rural healthcare start-up called Piramal eSwasthya), which is a non-profit.

Compiled by Team Mint from publicly available information

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