Pioneering the Art of Excellence
Spearheading the vast Godrej empire with diverse segments ranging from locks, soaps, property, retail and animal feed to the engines that power India’s space programmes, Mr. Adi Burjorji Godrej is one of the most popular and revered business leaders and a role model to umpteen industrialists who look up to him for inspiration. Armed with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mr. Adi Godrej is efficiently carrying forward the 120-year old legacy of excellence
SHARING HIS VIEWS ON BECOMING CARBONNEUTRAL GROUP, HE ASSERTS, “WE HAVE BECOME CARBON-NEUTRAL. THE COST OF ALTERNATE ENERGY IS CHEAPER THAT IT USED TO BE AND IN THE LONG RUN IT WILL BE MUCH CHEAPER THAN CARBON-EMITTING ENERGY LIKE COAL OR OIL””
Occupying the coveted throne of US$4.6 billion Godrej Group with operations in India and several other countries, Mr. Adi Godrej is efficiently chairing the 120-year-old consumer-goods giant family conglomerate, which was established in 1897 by Mr. Ardeshir Godrej who gave up his profession as a lawyer to make locks and his brother Pirojsha Burjorji acquired a vast stretch of land in suburban Mumbai.
ON AN ESCALATING GROWTH TRAJECTORY
Mr. Adi Godrej’s exemplary leadership has had an extremely positive impact on the growth of the group. Reminiscing about the changes at Godrej over the years, he shares, “First of all, we have grown tremendously. When I joined the business in 1963, the total turnover of the business was Rs. 10 crore. We have gone into new areas, value-added areas. We have done a lot of R&D. We have globalised, with manufacturing operations in a lot of countries. In Godrej Consumer Products, for example, we have higher per capita sales in countries like Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, than we
do in India. We have globalised a lot and we have size and scale in our operations.”
EMBRACING ECONOMIC REFORMS
As a proud Indian whose group has its roots in the country’s independence and Swadeshi Movement, Mr. Adi Godrej feels that the Indian economy is on a sound footing and believes that with consistent growth, India will emerge as the world’s largest economy by 2050, surpassing the U.S. and China. He considers the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the best reform since 1991 when the Indian economy was opened up by P.V. Narasimha Rao and Dr.
Manmohan Singh. His assessment of the GST roll-out is positive and he considers it to be “very good.” According to him, “It is a major economic reform. I think it is the most important economic reform of India since the opening of the economy in 1991. It has been extremely successful. GDP growth has improved. The GST Council had met many times to take quick decisions on issues in their horizon and they had resolved many. This has led to better growth now. Many of the rates are lower than they were before GST. They have been passed on to consumers. For example, Godrej soaps have become cheaper by 9%. Consumers are benefiting from lower rates. And, tax collections have gone up.”
Supporting the multiple tax slabs in GST, he stresses, “You cannot have one or two rates in a country like India. You cannot have similar rates for essentials, luxury and ‘sin’ items. So, in a country like India, there are bound to be multiple rates. Earlier, there were infinite number of rates, not just multiple rates. There were different rates of excise duty and different rates of VAT by the States. Now at least, there is a standard rate for India.
Finally, he declares with pride, “The economy is on a very good path. The whole world recognises it. All people including foreign leaders are coming to India. FDI in India is the highest in any country in the world. We are the fastest-growing economy in the world.” An ardent advocate of an open economy, he says, “We, at Godrej, have always been for the opening up of the economy. Even before 1991, we had advocated openness. Even now,
we advocate open trade, no protection. Competition is the best.”
STRONG PILLARS OF STRENGTH
Mr. Godrej’s was really close to his better half, the late Ms. Parmeshwar Godrej, an active philanthropist. Her biggest initiative was joining hands with legendary Hollywood actor Richard Gere, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to combat AIDS through the launch of the ‘Heroes Project’ in 2004. Besides Mr. Godrej, she is survived by her three children who are the personal and professional pillars of strength for the former. Ms. Tanya Dubash, their eldest daughter is Executive Director and Chief Brand Officer of the Godrej Group. Ms. Nisaba, their second child, is currently the Chairperson of Godrej Consumer Products. Their youngest son, Mr. Pirojsha Godrej is the Executive Chairman of Godrej Properties.
FOSTERING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Being quite conscious of his responsibility towards the environment, sustainable development is his most urgent priority. Sharing his views on becoming Carbon neutral group, he asserts, “We have recently become carbon-neutral. The cost of alternate energy is cheaper that it used to be and in the long run it will be much cheaper than carbon-mitting energy like coal or oil. We have a mangrove forest, and we use a lot of solar energy at our plants. We also recycle water and other waste into energy. We have a large operation in palm oil manufacturing, and we are the largest in palm oil manufacturing and palm cultivation in India. In our factories, the palm waste, which you get after palm fruits are crushed is recycled to produce energy.” He adds, “In Godrej Properties, all our buildings
are certified green buildings. We have also created a CII Green Business Center – now India has the largest number of green buildings outside US. Our headquarters, Godrej One, is platinum-certified.”
AN UNCEASING TRAIL OF RECOGNITIONS
He is the recipient of several awards and recognitions, including the Rajiv Gandhi Award 2002, the American India Foundation (AIF) Leadership in Philanthropy Award, the Entrepreneur of the Year at the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards, the Best Businessman of the Year for the GQ Men of the Year Awards, Chemexcil’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the AIMA – JRD Tata Corporate Leadership Award 2010, the Bombay Management Association – Management Man of the Year Award, the Qimpro Platinum Standard Award for Business, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the Padma Bhushan, the Asian Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the All India Management Association – Business Leader of the Year and the Golden Peacock Lifetime Achievement Award for Ethical Leadership.