Blame it on her lineage that she has the inborn instinct to introduce innovations, and assimilate her own style to run a business. Nisaba Godrej, a Wharton, and Harvard Business School alumni, has taken some of the most unconventional paths to bring about change in the company she heads. Younger daughter of Adi Godrej, she is the Executive Director of Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL) and is a board member of GCPL, Godrej Agrovet and Teach for India. Nisaba has taken some tough decisions along the way that includes changing the senior leadership, taking new portfolio decisions and strategising global expansion of GCPL.
Through her commitment, she has changed the face of Godrej Agrovet, which has become one of the largest and most profitable arms of the Group. Godrej has effectively steered the boat and has positioned her company as an entity that embraces change with time. Moreover, she has dexterously amalgamated the modern techniques with the traditional ethos of Godrej – trust and integrity.
The company has come up with many products in the past in the category of hair colour, insecticides, and home and car fragrances. Under Nisaba’s leadership, Godrej has become synonymous with innovation!
Reem Al Hashimi shatters the entire preconceived notion about women in the Arab world. She is smart, meticulous and glides through her responsibilities with much ease. She is an Emirati Minister of State; Chairperson, Dubai Cares (a children’s education charity established by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2007); Chairperson, Emirates Competitiveness Council; and Chairperson, National Bureau of Statistics.
As a Managing Director of the Dubai World Expo 2020 Bid Committee, Hashimi was also the public face of the UAE’s successful Expo 2020 bid that helped UAE secure a global event. Hashimi’s speech during the UAE’s final presentation in Paris, which she delivered in both French and English, won her many applauds.
A Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and French from Tufts University, Al Hashimi pursued her Master’s from Harvard University before starting her first job as Commercial Attaché, and then as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the UAE in Washington, DC. There she was very much involved in the issues like security, trade, economic and social concerns, in regards to US-UAE relationship.
Dubai Cares is dedicated to primary education and she is working hard to improve the state of education and reach out to the children who have no access to primary education.
With several responsibilities, the lady consistently polishes her skills and is making a difference in the Arab society. She considers education a valuable tool to eradicate poverty. In her free time, Hashimi enjoys working out and spending quality time with her family.
ON A FIRM GROUND
If we go by an old saying “age equals wisdom”, this young woman has proved it wrong. Beating the odds of coming from a non-medical background, Zahabiya Khorakiwala stands tall as the MD of the Wockhardt hospitals across Mumbai.
At the time when family legacies were ideally passed on to the male heirs, Habil Khorakiwala bestowed the responsibility of the closely guarded hospital business on his daughter Zahabiya. Graduating from the New York University, aged 27 years, and learning about the pharmaceutical business despite having psychology as her major in graduation, she has always been ahead of the curve, and is intent on pushing on her father’s dream of a state-of-the-art hospital environment.
At such a young age she is no less than any strong-headed business woman who knows how to strike a personal chord with each patient. She understands hospitals as a delicate business invoking the moral consciousness of a service provider. This self-dependent woman has no role models and believes in surpassing her own self daily.
Zahabiya manages nine hospitals across Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat. She is currently a salaried employee of the organization but soon aims to lead from the front.
You can learn a thing or two on becoming a roaring success from Lucy Peng! One of the founders of the Chinese e-Commerce business cluster, the Alibaba Group, Peng is ambitious and dogged, and her intelligence makes her one of the remarkable businesswomen of her generation. She knows the magic of thinking big, and has made the Alibaba Group one of the fastest expanding stand-alone e-commerce company. Peng’s stellar performance has been well received by the people across the world.
Though Lucy Peng started her career as a teacher, destiny made her choose something else. After earning a degree in Business Administration from Hangzhou Institute of Commerce, Zhejiang Gongshang University, she taught Economics for a brief period of time, but with the Internet making inroads into China, she was attracted to Alibaba and joined it as one of the founding members.
Under Peng’s guidance, her company is charting new territories, and with her innovative ideas and new initiatives she has sent the Alibaba’s cash register ringing!
WEALTH WITH RESPONSIBILITY
After having played an instrumental role in the real estate industry in California, Pollyanna Chu and husband Nicholas returned home to Hong Kong to form Kingston Securities. Not only is Chu responsible in laying the financial rules of investment in the company, but she is also an integral part of stock business to increase the investment chances for customers.
The investment-banking segment picked up in 1999 and Kingston Securities’ business began to move to areas such as the newly listed securities and the merger of the listed companies. Progressing from scratch, her company has now grown into a multi-business corporation.
Chu follows her father’s belief in diligence, modesty and thriftiness, and puts ample emphasis on modesty. She shoulders many social positions, thus is a strong believer in delegation, and makes sure that she ears every single escalation.
It does not stop here; she is a jewellery and watch collector and has bought 75% of stake in Sincere Watch, a distributor of Frank Muller watches in China. Pollyanna Chu never forgets to repay the society and consistently works for the benefit of the humankind in the education sector.
IN HER FATHER’S SHOES
First media and then business, Roshni Nadar Malhotra has been a good player of both the worlds. Though, leaving a full-fledged media job was not easy for Roshni, yet she decided to take her father’s advice to take over the reins of her family business, the HCL Corporation. Being the only child of Shiv Nadar, it was indeed important that she gave her family business the most needed attention. And she did not disappoint.
She has brought with herself a global outlook, premeditated vision and a passion for social enterprise. The ropes of business which she learnt from her father helped her build HCL Group as an institution that relies on the values of trust and commitment to a social cause.
As a CEO and Executive Director of the HCL Corporation, she is accountable for strategic decisions that would propel the corporation into a good direction in key areas like governance, investments, portfolio management and diversification. She is also a Director on the Board of one of the group companies, HCL Technologies, and also a Trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation. She has also been involved in a joint initiative with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation to promote the education of the Dalit and Muslim girl child in the rural belt of UP.
THE GAME CHANGER
Inheriting a business is one thing, but taking it from strength to strength and transforming it into success can only be the work of a maverick. Shobhana Bhartia, the Chairperson and Editorial Director of the Hindustan Times Group, one of India’s leading newspapers and media houses has rightly proved this. She has changed the privately held family-run concern to a successful and profitable national motivating force.
HT Media publishes Hindi and English dailies, an English business paper – Mint and has also ventured into radio, digital media and education. But this was not the case when Bhartia joined the company in 1986. The newspaper with roots in the Indian independence movement never entertained the idea of being a profitable unit. Bhartia’s father, K K Birla, treated it as an institution that would help in nation-building and eventually edify the masses.
Bhartia, however, had a keen eye for business. Picking up hints from the market that was already witnessing economic liberalization, she started tuning the content of the newspaper to the changing trend and making it consumer-centric.
Bhartia has effortlessly amalgamated the traditional journalistic values with modern-day business practices!
As the head of International Business Machines (IBM), a manufacturer and marketer of computer hardware, hosting and consulting services, Vanitha Narayanan is one of India’s leading ladies in technology. Narayanan is looking after sales, marketing, services and global delivery operations in India and South Asia region including in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. She became the Global Vice President for IBM’s telecom solutions offerings, and in 2006 moved to Shanghai to run the communications sector business for IBM’s Asia Pacific Unit, followed by India.
She is an old-timer at IBM, and has spent over 25 years managing clients all over the globe. As a person, she is aggressive and has a well-rounded view of every business sphere from marketing and sales to strategy and execution.
Her first decade with IBM was about the appreciation for the industry and clients; the second decade was about bringing value and about building organizational capabilities; whereas in the third decade she learned leadership in different cultures and environments.
Being a management graduate, she has always been ahead of the curve, and has utilized well the opportunity to work with IBM.
THE ASTUTE BANKER
In her graduation days, Shikha Sharma had to settle for Economics since her choice of subject, Physics was not available at the Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi. Thank God it wasn’t, otherwise India would have been kept from witnessing the phenomenon Shikha is. This Managing Director and CEO of Axis Bank, in a short period of time, has effectively changed the face of the principally corporate lending and retail liability portfolio of the bank into a full-service, end-to-end financial institution with sustained profitable growth at the centre stage.
Daughter of an officer in the Indian Army, Sharma travelled all over the country and attended seven schools in as many cities before finishing her schooling from Loreto Convent in Delhi and MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. Under her management, the bank has been growing at a steady pace and the stock price is at its lifetime high. After assuming the office in June 2009, she formulated the “Vision 2015” document and has reached most of the milestones she set for the bank. The group of products has widened along with the retail business growth and the systems and processes have been streamlined.
A Hindi movie buff, Sharma generally loves watching film with a happy ending. She is also a sea food junkie and a trained Hindustani classical singer, Sharma has also learnt classical music.
MY LOVELY LADY
Occasionally, a single incident can toss a woman into the headlines, establishing her as a leader of one of the most successful business empires. Savitri Devi is one such woman whose life changed after the death of her husband O P Jindal in 2005, and she was appointed the Chairperson of Jindal Industries. Having no clue about the business, she took charge with a view to unite her four sons; little did she know that she would become the wealthiest woman in Asia.
A simple woman draped in saree, who had devoted her entire life bringing up nine children, is now the 4th wealthiest mother in the world. Savitri Devi didn’t have the slightest clue about her husband’s wealth till the year he died. She is an organized and self-composed woman who is always seen wearing a charming smile on her face.
Being closely associated with Haryana, she was appointed as the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and also served as the Minister of Power in the Haryana Government till 2010. Keeping the company’s legacy of setting up a school and a hospital every time a factory was set up, the Vidya Devi Jindal School, a residential school for girls in Hisar was built by Savitri Devi.