Swati Piramal: Trailblazer in Her Own Right

In India, the Piramal name has its magic and Swati Piramal has definitely established her own name. She is, after all, a trailblazer in her own right thanks to her status as among India’s leading industrialists and scientists with active involvement and interests in healthcare particularly on public health. She has made notable contributions in both public health service and new medicines, which have touched thousands of lives across the Indian sub-continent.

Indeed, Swati continues to use her position as Vice Chairperson of Piramal Enterprises Ltd, the largest company in the influential Piramal Group, for noble causes. Since Piramal Enterprises Ltd is considered as a leader in drug discovery, she has been known to champion the cause of bringing affordable medicines to the global market and, in the process, lessen the burden of diseases.

Swati’s medical degree from Mumbai University and master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health has also been instrumental in her leadership of a team of scientists. The team has an impressive portfolio of 14 new drugs and over 200 international patents for a wide range of diseases.


Ajay Piramal: Leader of the Powerful Piramal Group

Ajay Piramal is one of India’s most influential figures because of his leadership of the Piramal Group, a diversified international business conglomerate with a robust presence in over 100 countries across several sectors including life sciences, healthcare services including information management, drug discovery, financial services, real estate development, and specialty glass packaging. He was the genius behind its phenomenal growth from a small textile-centered business to a multibillion global conglomerate.

Today, the Piramal Group has 4 key companies, namely:

• Piramal Enterprises, the largest company engaged in business verticals including information management, life sciences, financial services, and healthcare. It is listed at the National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange as well as ranked as among India’s top 50 largest corporations.

• Piramal Glass, the group’s company focused on the production of glass packaging solutions for the cosmetics and perfumery, food and beverages, and pharmaceuticals industries. Its manufacturing facilities are located in India, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

• Piramal Realty, the company with real estate development ventures. It is the builder of Cross Roads, India’s first mall located at South Mumbai.

• Piramal Foundation, the private philanthropic foundation engaged in various projects including the Piramal Swasthya, a helpline for health information; Sarvajal, a project providing clean water via solar power; and Pratham, a project dedicated to educational services for the underprivileged children across India, among others.

Ajay Piramal also sits on the board of directors of various companies including Piramal Life Sciences Limited, Piramal Enterprises Ltd, Piramal Glass Ltd, Indiareit Fund Advisors Pvt Ltd, IndiaVenture Advisors Pvt Ltd, Allergan India Limited, and Piramal Sunteck Realty Pvt Ltd. He is also the chairman of Pratham, one of India’s largest non-governmental education-focused organizations; Pratham reaches out to over 33 million children through its various campaigns including Read India.

For his notable contributions, Piramal has been awarded with the 1999 CEO of the Year Award by World Strategy Forum; the 2004 Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Healthcare & Life Sciences category; and the India Innovator of the Year 2008 by CNBC TV, among others.

Venugopal Dhoot: Videocon King

Venugopal Dhoot, a successful Indian businessman, is among the richest men in India with an estimated net worth of $1.25 billion (Forbes, 2013). He is best known for Videocon, an appliances and electronics manufacturer, which contributed to the bulk of his wealth. He is also an alumnus of the College of Engineering in Pune, India.

Dhoot’s later father, Nandlal Madhavlal, was a successful industrialist who was engaged in the sugarcane and cotton industries as well as the founder of Videocon Corporation and Videocon Electronics, among other business ventures; Videocon received one of the country’s first licenses for television manufacture. Dhoot later took control of the company and led it to greater success although there have been challenges along the way especially with the 2008 global financial crisis.

He is also an accomplished flautist and avid cricket fan. His Videocon School of Cricket in Kolkata trains young Indian cricketers, thus, ensuring that India will have world-class cricketers in the next generation.

Karsanbhai Patel: King of Detergents, Soaps and Cosmetics

Karsanbhai Khodidas Patel, an Indian industrialist considered as among India’s wealthiest persons, has made his mark in the world through his business and education interests. His Nirma group has major interests in various industries particularly in detergents, soaps and cosmetics. He also has interests in education through his creation of Nirma Institute of Pharmacy, a leading pharmacy college, and of Nirma Institute of Technology, a leading engineering college, both in India.

Born into a family of farmers, he strived to earn his degree in chemistry before working as a laboratory technician ins several organizations including the New Cotton Mills and the state government’s geology and mining department. He started his business career in 1969 as a manufacturer and retailer of low-cost detergent powder, which he sold on a door-to-door basis on his bicycle. He names the product Nirma after his daughter.

After 3 years of his one-man operation, he quit his job despite the fear of failure. He set up his first shop in a small workshop and he soon established the Nirma brand in Gujarat and Maharashtra. His formula for success: High quality products sold at substantially lower prices than the competitors including Hindustan lever.

Within ten years, Nirma became the bestselling detergent in India while the company itself became a leading employer, thanks to the labor-intensive process involved in its manufacture. Patel then decided to enter the premiums segment with its toilet soaps, beauty soaps, and premium detergents, which now has a 20% market share in the soap cake segment and 35% in the detergent sector. His company is also enjoying success in neighboring countries.

In 1995, Patel started his forays into education with the creation of the Nirma Institute of Technology followed by the Nirma Institute of Management; the two are now consolidated into the Nirma University of Science and Technology. He has also launched the Nirmalabs education project, which trains and incubated entrepreneurs.

Count Francesco Matarazzo: Royalty in Life and in Business

Francesco Antonio Maria Matarazzo, Count Matarazzo (1854 – 1937) was a powerful Italian-Brazilian businessman and nobleman whose businesses in South America spanned several industries. Born in Salerno, Italy, he emigrated to Sao Paulo when he was 26 years old. He initially sold lottery tickets and oranges as well as shine shoes before reinventing his income into new ambitious businesses, which eventually included rubber, cotton, rice, coffee, corn, and tea.

He founded two companies, Matarazzo and Irmãos, and diversified his businesses. But the company was eventually dissolved, which he then replaced with Companhia Matarazzo SA with several minority stakeholders.

While the company encountered several difficulties, such as the war between Central American countries and Spain, he persevered. His business rapidly expanded into 365 manufacturing facilities across Brazil, which became the country’s fourth largest conglomerate.

In 1911, he renamed the company as Indústrias Reunidas Francisco Matarazzo (IRFM). He was such a powerful person in Brazil that it was said that whenever the Brazilian president visits Sao Paolo, he makes it a point to call upon Matarazzo first.

He was conferred the royal title of Count by King Victor Emmanuel of Italy for his material and monetary assistance to the country during World War I.

Eduardo Saverin: Facebook Co-founder, Start-up Investor, and Internet Entrepreneur

Eduardo Luiz Saverin, a Brazilian angel investor, economist, and Internet entrepreneur, is best known as one of the co-founders of Facebook, the social media giant. As of 2015, he owns roughly 0.4% of Facebook’s outstanding shares or approximately 53 million shares. He has an estimated net worth of US$7.2 billion.

Born in Sao Paulo, he was part of a wealthy Jewish family with his father being a rich industrialist involved in the shipping, real estate, and clothing industries while his mother was a psychologist. His grandfather, Eugenio, was the founder of a chain of kids’ wear retail shops known as Tip Top.

In 1993, his family emigrated from Rio de Janeiro to the United States where they settled in Miami, Florida. He attended the Gulliver Preparatory School and then Harvard University where he attained distinction as Harvard Investment Association’s president, a Phoenix S.K. Club member, and an Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity member. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics, magna cum laude, from Harvard University.

While at Harvard University, he worked with Mark Zuckerberg on the launch of The Facebook in 2004; the two noted the absence of a social networking website dedicated for Harvard University students. As Facebook’s co-founder, he was the business manager and chief financial officer of the social media titan.

But the two co-founders had their differences, too. Business Insider, for example, obtained an email containing the details of how Zuckerberg diluted Saverin’s stake in Facebook. The company also filed a lawsuit against Saverin and the latter retaliated with a countersuit; the lawsuits were settled out of court although the terms were not disclosed while Saverin signed a non-disclosure agreement. He retained the title as Facebook co-founder.

Since 2009, Saverin has lived in Singapore. In September 2011, he renounced his American citizenship.

He has also invested as an angel investor in several Internet ventures.

Heather Brandon: An Influential Figure in Youth Education

Heather Brandon is among the most successful chairmen of the World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) for which she received the prestigious OB-PS certificate and insignia in July 2008; she served as chairman from 1996-1999. WAGGGS is a non-profit organization committed to the empowerment of girls and young women.

Aside from her work as Chief Executive Officer for several non-profit organizations, Brandon was also known for her work as the Director of The Global Fund for Children UK Trust, a non-profit grant-making organization dedicated to providing more opportunities for vulnerable children. She is also a training expert in social diversity and motivational team building as well as a qualified executive coach. She continues to be an influential figure in many fields including international development, youth education, and social entrepreneurship.

Brandon is also notable for her co-founding of UnLtd South Africa, a non-profit organization inspired by UnLtd in the United Kingdom. UnLtd South Africa identifies and supports South African social entrepreneurs with the support coming in both monetary and non-monetary forms.

Nand Kishore Chaudhary: Gandhi of India’s Carpet Industry

Nand Kishore Chaudhary, an Indian social entrepreneur, is considered as the Gandhi of India’s carpet industry because of his passionate dedication for uplifting the art of carpet weaving and, thus, of society. His commitment continues to be evident in his work as the founder as well as current Managing Director and Chairman of Jaipur Rugs, a social enterprise.

Instead of following his father’s footsteps in the shoemaking industry, he entered the carpet business with just two looms in 1978. He observed that middlemen exploited the carpet artisans by underpaying them for their work, which encouraged him to establish Jaipur Rugs.

Chaudhary used a social business model for Jaipur Rugs, which connected the poor artisans/weavers with international markets mainly through establishing a global supply chain. The chain itself was designed to develop human knowledge, skills and capability at the grassroots level; to provide rural men and women with steady income; and to connect the weavers to markets in the United States.

Today, Jaipur Rugs has grown to become one of the strongest networks in the Indian carpet industry. It has a network of over 40,000 artisans across six Indian states as well as manufacturing capability that has made it India’s leading producer and exporter of world-class hand-knotted rugs. The rugs are exported to over 40 countries worldwide.

Chaudhary has a clear vision: To promote the development of the Indian hand-knotted rug and carpet industry to compete with the international industry. He is thus constantly working on facilitating research especially on technology inclusion and product development, which has resulted in several quality improvements.

For his achievements, Chaudhary has been recognized with several awards including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 for the Best Start-Up; the 2010 Distinguished Entrepreneur Award by the PHD Chamber of Commerce; and the 2015 Game Changer Award by The HR Club as well as the 2011 India Pride Award 2011 – Social Change Agents and the 2012 Karmaveer Puraskaar 2012 award.

Suna Kiraç: An Extraordinary Woman

In the 21st century, women can be as prominent in the business world as the men – and Suna Kirac is a fine example. Born to the powerful Koc family – she is Vehbi Koc’s fourth child – she was raised to become a leader of the family-owned conglomerate, the Koc Group. She was educated at the prestigious American College for Girls and at the Bosphorus University, both in Istanbul.

Suna, who is married to Inan Kirac, has served in various capacities in the Koc Group, a holding company for its diversified interests, with the most recent as its Vice President. Her talents are also applied as a board member in various educational institutions and foundations.

She has been awarded with Turkey’s Supreme Service Medal n 1997 for her notable contributions in health, education and social service in Turkey. She has also been recognized with honorary membership by the London Business School for her contributions in Koc Holding’s leadership as well as for the education of children in her home country.

Murat Ülker: The King of Food Products in Turkey

Murat Ülker is synonymous with popular food products in Turkey for good reasons – he is, after all, the chairman of Ülker and Yildiz Holding, the country’s largest food producer. His ancestors, particularly Sabri and Asim Ülker, have been in the food business since the 1944 founding of Ülker, a manufacturer of crackers, biscuits and chocolates. He has a degree from the Bogazici University.

Murat has an estimated net worth of US$4.0 billion as of January 2015, according to Forbes magazine. Most is his wealth comes from Ülker and Yildiz Holding, the latter being the holding company for the conglomerate’s various investments.

While Ülker started as a small bakery, its operations has since expanded to the manufacture of margarine, dairy products and vegetable oil as well as Turkish coffee, baby food, ice cream, and carbonated beverages. Today, Ülker is a major manufacturer of food products with the core products being cookies, crackers, and biscuits as well as chocolates with expansion in other products categories. These products are distributed all over Turkey as well as exported to 10 countries.

Ülker, via its parent company Yildiz Holding, is also expanding its international operations via the purchase of United Biscuits, a major food manufacturer in the United Kingdom. With the 2007 acquisition of Godiva Chocolatier, the company is also considered one of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers; the chocolate company was purchased from Campbell Soup Co for $850 million.

Ülker’s achievements have been honored in several ways, too. For example, it was awarded the 2004 Candy Company of the Year in Europe by the European Candy Kettle Club.

Yildiz Holding, the holding company for all of Ülker’s brands, has 65 companies so far with over 160 brands and 2,700 products distributed in Turkey and in 110 countries worldwide. With its 100 new products launched each year, every Turkish man and woman as well as many nationalities around the world have likely consumed its products, too.