Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla is the Chairman of the US $44.3 billion multinational Aditya Birla Group, which operates in 34 countries across six continents. Over 50 per cent of its revenues flow from its operations outside India.
Mr. Birla chairs the boards of all of the Group’s major companies in India and globally. Its clutch of global companies features Novelis, Columbian Chemicals, Aditya Birla Minerals, Aditya Birla Chemicals, Thai Carbon Black, Alexandria Carbon Black, Domsjö Fabriker and Terrace Bay Pulp Mill, among others. In India, he chairs the Boards of Hindalco, Grasim, UltraTech, Idea and Aditya Birla Capital Limited.
The Group’s businesses are spread across a swathe of industries. These include aluminium, copper, cement, textiles (pulp, fibre, yarn, fabric and branded apparel), carbon black, insulators, natural resources, power, agribusiness, telecommunications, financial services, retail and trading.
Mr. Birla took over as Chairman of the Group in 1995 at the age of 28 after the untimely demise of his father. As Chairman, Mr. Birla has taken the Aditya Birla Group to an altogether higher growth trajectory. In the 20 years that he has been at the helm of the Group, he has accelerated growth, built a meritocracy and enhanced stakeholder value.
In the process he has raised the Group’s turnover from US $2 billion in 1995 to US $44.3 billion today. Mr. Birla has restructured the businesses to emerge as a global/national leader in the sectors in which the Group operates. He has made 36 acquisitions in 19 years in India and globally, the highest by an Indian multinational in India.
The acquisition of Novelis, a global metals major, in 2007, the second largest acquisition ever by an Indian company, led to a new found respect for Indian companies and stoked a higher level of interest in the country as well. The subsequent acquisition of Columbian Chemicals, a US-based company and the world’s third largest carbon black manufacturer positioned the Group as the No. 1 player in this sector, given its own sizeable carbon black operations today. Likewise, the acquisition of Domsjö Fabriker, a leading Swedish specialty pulp manufacturer enables the Group’s Pulp and Fibre business to further consolidate its global position.
Besides these, over the years Mr. Birla has acquired manufacturing plants in Canada, China, Indonesia and mines in Australia, and set up new plants in Egypt, Thailand and China. Alongside, he has expanded capacities in all of the Group’s manufacturing units.
In India as well, he has made major acquisitions, the most notable being the cement division of Larsen & Toubro, Jaypee Cement (MP & Gujarat), Indal from Alcan, Madura Garments from Coats Viyella, the chlor alkali division of Kanoria Chemicals and Solaris Chemtech Industries.
Under his stewardship, the Aditya Birla Group enjoys a position of leadership in all the major sectors in which it operates. Over the years, Mr. Birla has built a highly successful meritocratic organisation, anchored by an extraordinary force of 120,000 employees belonging to 42 different nationalities. The Aditya Birla Group has been ranked fourth in the world and first in Asia Pacific in the ‘Top Companies for Leaders’ study 2011, conducted by Aon Hewitt, Fortune Magazine and RBL (a strategic HR and leadership advisory firm). The Group has topped Nielsen's Corporate Image Monitor 2014-15 and emerged as the Number 1 corporate, the 'Best in Class', for the third successive year.
Mr. Birla holds several key positions on various regulatory and professional boards. He was a Director on the Central Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India. He was Chairman of the Advisory Committee constituted by the Ministry of Company Affairs and also served on the Prime Minister of India’s Advisory Council on Trade and Industry.
As the Chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Committee on Corporate Governance, he authored the first report on corporate governance titled “Report of the Kumar Mangalam Birla Committee on Corporate Governance”. Its recommendations were path breaking and became the basis of corporate governance norms. Furthermore, as the Convener of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Administrative and Legal Simplifications, the extensive recommendations made by him in his report were implemented in totality. Mr. Birla also served as Chairman of SEBI’s committee on insider trading which formulated corporate governance principles for Indian corporates.
He is on the National Council of the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Apex Advisory Council of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
Mr. Birla has won recognition for his exemplary contribution to leadership processes and institution/systems building. A selective list:
A firm practitioner of the trusteeship concept, Mr. Birla has institutionalised the concept of caring and giving at the Aditya Birla Group. With his mandate, the Group is involved in meaningful welfare driven activities that distinctively impact the quality of life of weaker sections of society, surrounding hundreds of villages that are among the poorest in India, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Egypt.
In India, the Aditya Birla Group is engaged in 5,000 villages, reaching out to 7.5 million people annually and making a difference to their lives through meticulously conceived projects focusing on health care, education, sustainable livelihood, infrastructure and social causes. For instance, the Group runs 56 schools which provide quality education to 46,500 children. Of these, over 18,000 children receive free education. Additionally, over a 100,000 youngsters benefit from bridge educational programmes and vocational training. Its 20 hospitals tend to more than a million villagers. In line with its commitment to sustainable development, the Group has partnered with the Columbia University in establishing the Columbia Global Centre’s Earth Institute in Mumbai. To embed CSR as a way of life in organisations, the company has set up the FICCI – Aditya Birla CSR Centre for Excellence in Delhi.
A commerce graduate from Mumbai University, Mr. Birla is a Chartered Accountant. He earned an MBA from the London Business School.
Born June 14, 1967, in Kolkata, Mr. Birla was raised in Mumbai. Mr. Birla and his wife, Mrs. Neerja Birla, have three children, Ananyashree, Aryaman Vikram and Advaitesha