Kumar Mangalam Birla bags Business Leader of the Year Award 2013

11 December, 2013

Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group wins the prestigious Economic Times’ “Business Leader of the Year Award” 2013. He is the only business leader to have been named for the award twice in a decade

Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group, is the only business leader to have been named for the Award twice in a decade.

The 7th of December 2013 was indeed a glorious day for so many of us as we saw our Chairman being honoured by India’s Finance Minister (FM), Mr. P. Chidambaram. The FM conferred the highly prestigious Economic Times’ “Business Leader of the Year Award” upon Mr. Birla. Our Chairman is the only business leader to have been named for the Award twice in a decade. In 2003, Mr. Birla received the Award at the hands of the then Deputy Prime Minister Mr. L. K. Advani. On that glitzy evening of the 7th in Mumbai, graced by the who’s who of India’s corporate world, here is what the ET said –

“The future of a storied business house fell on the shoulders of Kumar Mangalam Birla quite suddenly when he was 28. That is when he lost his father, the visionary entrepreneur Aditya Vikram Birla who left behind a business group in the throes of global expansion. Doubts about his ability were pervasive. ; ET wrote about the languishing share price of his Group companies back then. We have been unable to forget about that one article as successive ET juries have made him the most awarded CEO for 14 years now, and there’s good reason for this. The 2 billion dollar Group that he took over in 1995 is a formidable 40 billion dollar conglomerate today. The new businesses that he started - Telecom, Financial Services and Outsourcing are thriving. In many of the traditional sectors like Metals, Cement and Commodities, he has turned the Group into a world leader.

His mild manner does not detain his business instincts. He led Hindalco’s 2007 takeover of Canada’s Novelis, a company four times its size. He runs operations today in 36 countries.

Kumar Mangalam Birla is “Business Leader of the Year” for diversifying and strengthening the Aditya Birla Group through acquisitions at home and overseas, investing in fledgling new-economy businesses that are now powering growth, and balancing caution with aggression in business”, the citation from ET read.

With his characteristic grace and humility, Mr. Birla said that the Award epitomised the collective triumph of our teams world over. An excerpt from his acceptance speech –

“The Aditya Birla team is what I call a 3D team, a team with a DEEP DRIVING DESIRE TO EXCEL TO WIN. To build businesses that will win not just this year and the next, but also in the next generation and the generation beyond that. To build businesses not on the quick sands of opportunism, but on the solid bedrock of commitment, hard work and discipline. Each one of them has a share in this recognition. I stand here because they stand behind me.”

Thanking his grandparents and parents, Mr. Birla said – “I wish my father was here today”. And to “Neerja and the kids, for being my anchor. You make life beautiful”.

Mr. Birla dedicated the Award to three of our teams for their exceptional achievements –

  1. Our colleagues in Alexandria in Egypt - “for working through the revolution of the past three years, at great personal risk, when everyone else had shut shop. For their extraordinary courage and commitment”.

  2. Novelis, “for leading across the Group’s businesses on the sustainability front. They recycled 40 billion beverage cans last year, a record of sorts! Every second can in the world is made from Novelis aluminium”. ;

  3. Idea Cellular, “for turning the tide — for their sheer guts, ability to hang in there, and their strategic thinking and flawless execution”.

Mr. Birla also acknowledged Prof. Ram Charan, Lynda Gratton and the late Pratap Sharma – “for all that you have taught, and continue to teach me”, as well as ; Larry Fink, John Ritblat, and Laxmi Mittal “for making me aspire to do better”.

By Dr. (Mrs.) Pragnya Ram, Group Executive President - Corporate Communications &; CSR

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