Mukesh Ambani

A Chemical Engineer from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, Mukesh Ambani has pursued an MBA from Stanford University in the US. Being on the Board of Reliance Industries since 1977, he has played a significant role in the Group’s backward integration journey – from textiles to polyester fibres and further onto petrochemicals and petroleum refining, and going upstream into oil and gas exploration and production. Owing to his dedicated efforts in creation of multiple new world-class manufacturing facilities involving diverse technologies, Reliance’s petrochemicals manufacturing capacities have seen an increase from less than a million tonnes to about 21 million tonnes per year.


In the late nineties, Mukesh Ambani not only created the world’s largest grassroots petroleum refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat, India, with a capacity of 660,000 barrels per day (33 million tonnes a year), but also integrated it with petrochemicals, power generation, port and related infrastructure. In addition, he set up another 580,000-barrels-per-day refinery next to the first one in Jamnagar. No wonder Jamnagar emerged as the refining hub of the world with an aggregate refining capacity of 1.24 million barrels of oil per day at a single location. He also spearheaded the development of infrastructure facilities and created a pan-India organized retail network spanning multiple formats and supply chain infrastructure. Since 2006, Reliance Retail has been delivering superior value to its customers, suppliers and shareholders and has established itself as India’s largest retailer. Its network of retail outlets all across the nation, delivers a world-class shopping environment and unmatched customer experience by virtue of its state-of-theart technology and seamless supply-chain infrastructure. Extremely optimistic about the future of the nation, he applauds India’s entrepreneurial spirit. He feels that every small entrepreneur in India can become a Dhirubhai or a Bill Gates as the entrepreneurial talent in India is huge. An advocate of innovation, he asserts, “Essentially, whoever is successful, whoever is going to do things that make a difference, is going to be talked about.” He feels that business is a level playing field where everyone gets an equal opportunity to excel. “Everybody has equal opportunity and I think that is true for everything,” he says. Despite reaching the pinnacle of success, he feels that there is still a lot of scope to grow and expand. As he puts it, “I think our fundamental belief is that for us growth is a way of life and we have to grow at all times.”


Mukesh Ambani has created global records in customer acquisition for Jio – the Group’s digital services initiative. He has efficiently spearheaded the creation of one of the world’s most expansive 4G broadband wireless network offering end-to-end solutions. It caters to the entire value chain across various digital services in key domains of national interest, such as education, healthcare, security, financial services, governmentcitizen interfaces, entertainment, to name a few. He is of the view that India has a mobile network that is better or at par with any country in the world and it is all set to become a “premier digital society.” He feels that the big change driving this transformation is the deepening of mobile networks that are currently working at a much faster pace than before. “It all kick-started in 2014 when PM gave us the vision of Digital India … 380 million people have migrated to Jio’s 4G technology,” he says. “Pre-Jio, the data speed was 256 kbps; and post-Jio, it is 21 Mbps, he declares with pride. He believes that policy steps are needed to accelerate the early rollout of ultra-high-speed 5G services that are affordable and available everywhere. He is certain about the fact that 5G will enable India not only to participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution but also to lead it.


Mukesh Ambani believes in knowledgesharing and actively contributes his rich insights as a member of various national and international organizations. He is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry, Government of India, and the Board of Governors of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, India. He is also a member of The Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, the Global Advisory Council of Bank of America, Stanford Global Advisory Council, McKinsey & Company International Advisory Council, The Business Council, India Advisory Group of the London School of Economics, Indo-U.S. CEOs’ Forum, International Advisory Council of The Brookings Institution and Board of Governors of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, India. He is an elected Foreign Member of the prestigious United States National Academy of Engineering. Mr Mukesh Ambani is an elected Foreign Member of the prestigious United States National Academy of Engineering. Only nine other Indians have received this honour. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in Gujarat and India Advisory Council of The British Asian Trust.


Mukesh Ambani is the only Indian to be featured on Global Game Changers List of a leading international magazine. He has been awarded as Economic Times Business Leader of the Year, 2017 and has won Othmer Gold Medal by Chemical Heritage Foundation, USA in 2016. He was offered an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee in and Honorary Doctor of Science by Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai in 2013. He was conferred the title of ‘Entrepreneur of the Decade’ by All-India Management Association in 2013.


Mukesh Ambani’s vision of an inclusive India is being realized through Reliance Foundation. Spearheaded by his better half, Smt. Nita M. Ambani, Reliance Foundation was established in 2010 to provide impetus to various philanthropic initiatives of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). The efforts of the group have already touched the lives of more than 39.5 million people across India in more than 40,000 villages and several urban locations.

Adar Poonawalla

The CEO and Executive Director of Serum Institute of Technology, Adar Poonawalla is a perfect combination of vigor, energy, and sharp focus. The son of Dr. Cyrus S. Poonawalla, the young leader has inherited all the right and relevant qualities to run a successful business from his father, who had established the Serum Institute of Technology in 1996. Now in his position as the leader, Adar is taking his father’s vision ahead with real-time planning, smart innovation, and the zest to take the firm to newer heights of success.


Adar got the first-hand experience of running businesses by observing his father, who was leading one of the biggest enterprises in India today. He always learnt keenly and was motivated to be a part of the growing company. Therefore, after completing his education from the University of Westminster, he joined the company in 2001. He spent a decade across positions learning the tricks and trades of business and keeping a fine balance between the two main aspects — leader’s vision and learner’s attitude. He was then promoted to the position of CEO and now holds full control of the day-to-day operations of the company. Since then, he has taken major policy decisions that have influenced the growth of the company in a positive way.


At the time when Adar joined the company, the Serum Institute was very much India-centric and was exporting to not more than 30-40 countries.

Adar saw it as an opportunity to expand the company’s business to other parts of the world and successfully accomplished the mission in less than three years. Since then the company’s exports have grown and now Serum Institute exports to 147 countries.

Also, In the year 2014, Adar Poonawalla initiated the launch of Serum Institute’s Oral Polio Vaccine, which went on to become the best seller for the company, and now he plans to launch a new vaccine for promoting health every year.

Lately, the institute also collaborated with University of Oxford and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for making the COVID-19 vaccine, ‘Covidshield’ and is conducting trials in India. Adar has said India’s vaccination drive may begin by January 2021 as the company is hoping to get emergency-use authorization by the end of 2020.


The zeal to carve a niche has made Adar the honed leader that he is today. Apart from possessing great business acumen and being socially responsible, Adar Poonawalla also happens to have had a humble upbringing; being the only child to very fortunate parents did not spoil him.

In fact, his father had been a very strict parent to him during his childhood days and taught him the human values, shouldering responsibilities, and being accountable to those around us. Adar believes that his father has been the greatest source of inspiration for him and he has learnt a lot when it comes to the way one manages people, looks at opportunities and weighs risks.

He also believes, like his father, that wasting time on something that is not worth is useless and quick decision-making is a key skill for success in business. As a socially responsible entrepreneur, Adar has invested over $20 Millions in philanthropy and for various other humanitarian causes.

Smt. Savitri Jindal


The Chairperson Emeritus, OP Jindal Group, Smt. Savitri Jindal is not only renowned in Haryana and India but in the whole world as a popular leader. She has lead with grace the life of a successful wife, a successful mother, a successful politician as well as a successful entrepreneur. Even though all of her four sons are successful businessmen, they are rooted in values and their philosophy of life is of Gandhism – simplicity is their special identity. She has also successfully handled the responsibility of Ministry of Revenue and ban cal dies in ayana, in the ast he is cntibting t the field of education as the Chancellor of Jain Vishwabharati, Ladnun, Rajasthan. Her role as the President of Maharaja Agrasen Medical College, Agroha, a symbol of medical service in Southern Haryana, is being appreciated far and wide. A philanthropist to the core, she is extremely passionate about serving the society. Donning many hats with élan, Smt. Savitri Jindal is a living legend, whose life is an inspiration for one and all!

Q. You have played an important role in taking Jindal Group to great heights. Please share your experiences with our readers on how you went from being a successful housewife to a successful entrepreneur.

A. I was taking care of the house but after the sudden demise of Jindal sahib, I had to come forward to handle the business. If the shadow of a father suddenly removed from the head, then the mother has to play the role of the father. Jindal sahib left behind a legacy of keeping the society and family together in the thread of love. He had an amazing ability to take everyone along, so taking inspiration from him, I played my part as a link – both with the kids and also with the Hisar-Haryana family. I am very proud of my children, who have not only successfully handled the business following the path shown by Jindal sahib but are also living together lovingly and operating their business and family together.

In today’s environment it is difficult for two brothers to live together but it is a big thing for us that all my children are living together with love. Jindal sahib also thought that everyone should live together and our children respected his wish. We are all together. In my view, love and mutual trust are the keys to success.

Q. You are an inspiration to those women entrepreneurs who are trying their luck in various fields and aspire to achieve big goals. What is your message to them?

A. Knowledge, hard work, honesty, patience, mutual love and trust are the basic formulas of success in business. Jindal sahib used to say – “Each one belongs to us. All employees are ours, like family members.” I believe the same and my children also believe that employees are members of the family. I want to tell my entrepreneur sisters that you need to be always up to date about your businesses. Do your business with hard work and honesty; if you do not cheat on anyone, then God also helps you and you move forward.

Q. Despite having reached the pinnacle of success, you remain grounded and humble. We, at AsiaOne, appreciate your remarkable efforts to give back to the society. Please share some of the social causes which are close to your heart.

A. As a child, I have seen my grandfather, parents, uncles and aunts and both brothers and sisters – how they used to come forward to help the needy. After marriage, I got inspired by Jindal sahib as he used to take a great interest in social work. He used to say, “God has given us a lot, so we should also do something for the society.” He laid great emphasis on education because he believed that education is the right way to attain prosperity. He always used to inspire everyone for girl child education. He used to say, “If a girl studies, then two houses will prosper and if a boy studies then only one house.”

Education and health & wellness are subjects that are very close to my heart. I would also like to share one thing that wherever we have factories, we have built schools, colleges, and hospitals for the kids of workers so that they can study. Basically, our aim is to ensure that they can learn employable skills so that they may get employment after completion of their studies.

Vidyadevi Jindal Residential School, OP Jindal School, OP Jindal Global University, OP Jindal University – Raigarh, OP Jindal Community College are some of the initiatives through which we are trying to promote the talents of the country. Similarly, Acharya Shri Mahashraman ji has entrusted me with the responsibility of being the Chancellor of Jain Vishwabharati, which I am trying to fulfil sincerely.

As far as health is concerned, right now my focus is on the development of Maharaja Agrasen Medical College, Agroha. Apart from Haryana, people from Punjab and Rajasthan also come there for treatment. Our team did a commendable job in the COVID-19 pandemic.

I believe that only a healthy and educated person can contribute to nation building.

Q. AsiaOne Magazine, through its “Greatest Brands and Leaders Asia GCC” series, endeavors to publish the inspirational success stories of top Asian brands and leaders from around the world who have enabled Asia to acquire a special place in the world. This series will highlight the contributions of top Asian leaders, who have contributed in making this world a better place. What is your message to Mr. Rajat Shukal, Global Head and Principal Partner, AsiaOne Magazine and AsiaOne Media Group for this endeavour?

A. I congratulate Mr. Rajat Shukal ji, and your entire team for the success of this series. I also thank you all as the initiative has given me an opportunity to connect with the world community. I am very much sure that I will definitely get an opportunity to learn from all of them. Keep doing positive journalism like this, which changes the lifestyle of people and makes them happy, healthy and prosperous.

Ananya Birla

Apart from being a karmayogi, who is living the dream, she is driven by the vision to bring about a positive change in society. Her venture Svatantra Microfin supports women entrepreneurs in the rural areas to grow and become financially more secure.


Ananya always chose to do things differently. A quiet, observant and introspective child, she had an interest in music since an early age. She learnt to play santoor when she was just 11 years old. As she grew, so did her interest in music. She taught herself to play the guitar with the help of video tutorials on the web. This was the beginning of a passion that continues to grow even today. She is an acclaimed singer who writes her own songs. ‘I Don’t Want to Love’ is her much acclaimed song which first brought her to the music scene. She was signed as an artiste by the Universal Music Group (India). Her debut single ‘Livin the Life’was launched worldwide in November 2016. ‘Meant to Be’ is the second international single to be released in July 2017 & has been certified ‘PLATINUM’ as per the standards followed by the Indian music industry, which makes her the first Indian artist to go Platinum.


Ananya studied at the Oxford University, UK, where she pursued degrees in Economics & Management. As a student, she developed keen interest in music & started singing & playing the guitar; while still managing her microfinance venture Svatantra over Skype calls with a capable team back home in India. During her stay in London, Ananya also worked as a counsellor for a student welfare charity. She met & interacted with many young people of her age who were suffering from anxiety & depression. This experience shook her from within & after returning to India, she set up a mental health initiative called MPower along with her mother Neerja Birla. MPower works to stamp out the stigma towards people with mental illness in India. It also sensitizes people towards mental illnesses like anxiety & depression that are so common in our society today & can be controlled with family’s cooperation. She felt a greater need to start Mpower because in India, it is difficult to change perceptions related to mental health, so she decided to take up the challenge of repairing the innate conditioning of the people which perceive mental illness as an evilHer venture MPower is a timely step in this direction as it is high time to fight for rights of people with mental illness & help them to be understood & treated supportively like any other person who is unwell. Under her able leadership, The MPower centre provides holistic mental health care solutions to children, young people, and adolescents, & their families. The foundation helps people with psychological difficulties lead meaningful lives without social exclusion. It also helps create awareness by organising workshops for the youth. Ananya’s entrepreneurial instincts led her to start an e-commerce platform – Curo Carte – which is a global ecommerce platform that provides handmade & high-end luxury products, curated from nine countries. The online portal is an amalgamation of design, beauty and lifestyle & offers around 1500 products across 70 categories. An inspiration to today’s youth, Ananya Birla exemplifies the courage to let go of the comfort zone and pursue one’s dreams by working hard to be the best at each & every endeavour, and light up the way for others simultaneously.

Sania Mirza

Born to a sports journalist, Imran Mirza, Sania was introduced to the game by her mother Nasima Mirza. Touted as one of the finest doubles players in the world and without doubt the finest women’s tennis player to have ever represented India, Sania Mirza’s achievements also include laurels like Arjuna Award, WTA Newcomer of the Year, Padma Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Padma Bhushan to name a few. She has won 13 medals for the country. Sania is the highest ever ranked singles player in the men and women category in the last 30 years and has been ranked as 27th in singles and the world number 1 in doubles.


Her remarkable journey is replete with memorable singles wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova, Marion Bartoli, & Vera Zvonareva. The world number one tennis doubles player acquired this position by recording notable triumphs over the existing toppers of the sport, which included Martina Hingis, Victoria Azarenka, & Dinara Safina. Her powerful strokes and effective style of playing made Sania one of the highest paid & extremely successful high-profile public figures not only in India but internationally as well. As the first Indian woman to win six Grand Slam titles, she has set really high benchmarks.


Born and brought up in Hyderabad, Sania’s journey began at the age of six at Nizam Club Hyderabad. She received her initial training in tennis by C.K. Bhupathi, father of another tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi, for the initial training. After obtaining professional tennis training from Sinnet Tennis Academy, Secunderabad, Sania joined the Ace Tennis Academy in the United States. As a junior tennis player, she won 10 singles and 13 doubles titles, which proved that she was meant to make it big in realm of tennis. Since then, there has been no looking back for the champion. In February 2005, she defeated the ninth-seeded Alona Bondarenko in the A.P. Tourism Hyderabad Open finals. This enabled her to grab a WTA title, making her the first Indian woman to have achieved this feat.


Despite financial pressures and infrastructural constraints, she chartered her distinct course to success owing to her passion for the sport. While 2007 was the golden year for the tennis player as she was ranked the highest in her career as 27th singles player in the world; the year 2008 brought a brief halt to the player’s career while she represented India in the Summer Olympics. She got eliminated from the singles tournament at the event because of a severe wrist injury. The injury led to her withdrawal from the famed tournaments. Although it was a major injury, she didn’t stop & continued with the doubles championships.


The ‘Pride of the Nation’, Sania Mirza has been featured by various national and international publications. An international magazine has named her as one of the ‘50 Heroes of Asia’. She was also listed among the ET’s ‘33 women who made India proud’. Time magazine listed her as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ in 2016. Having played the singles, doubles & mixed doubles formats, she has chosen to share her wealth of knowledge and will join broadcasters Star Sports as an expert to analyze the day-to-day action of the ongoing Wimbledon for fans across the country.

Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote GCON (Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger) is a Nigerian billionaire and the founder of Lagos headquartered Dangote Group with the designation of President and Chief Executive. He is also a member of the board of the Corporate Council on Africa and the Steering Committee of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, the Clinton Global Initiative, the McKinsey Advisory Council, and the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum. Though he was born in a wealthy business family of Nigeria – his great grandfather, Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, was the richest African at the time of his death in 1955 – he was so interested in business that even in his primary school he bought cartons of sugar boxes and sold them to make money.

This gentleman’s reputation precedes him, worldwide. The richest in Africa, he also surpassed in 2013 Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi by over $2.6 billion to become the world’s richest person of African descent.


Starting in 1978 as a trader of rice, sugar and cement with a loan of $3000 by a family member, he soon ventured into full-scale manufacturing. Focusing on meeting the basic needs of the Nigerian population by providing local, value-added products and services, he expanded the Dangote Group by leaps and bounds.

Today, he heads the multi-trillion-naira industrial conglomerate that deals in cement manufacturing, sugar refining, salt refining, oil refinery, polysacks, beverages, flour, pasta, seasoning, real estate, telecommunication, steel and fertilizers with a presence in 18 African countries and employing more than 30000 people. In the late 1990s, Dangote forayed into manufacturing consumer goods such as sugar refining and flour milling and then in cement manufacturing. One of his subsidiary companies is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange whose market capitalization is accounts for almost 20 percent of the total capitalization of the stock exchange. The visionary leader also signed a contract for the installation of a large underwater offshore pipeline with CNOOC Group.


Dangote takes a no neither easily, nor seriously. In 1990s, he got a yes from the Central Bank of Nigeria to be allowed to manage at cheaper rates their fleet of staff buses through his transport company. In July 2012, he approached the Nigerian Ports Authority and received the rights of an abandoned piece of land on lease to build facilities for his flour company. These approvals are not easy to get, but Dangote is capable of convincing others decisively.


He is passionate about doing everything for the people of Nigeria. He encourages them to invest within the country and keep their profits or rewards with themselves. Dangote’s telecommunications project resulted in building 14,000 kilometers of fibre optic cables to supply in entire Nigeria. For this, he was honored as the leading provider of employment in Nigerian construction industry in 2009.

Acknowledging his extensive efforts towards manufacturing and employment in Nigeria, in 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him as the Chairman, National Job Creation Committee to assist the government in creating employment opportunities for Nigerians.

As a result of his global impressive contributions, recently in June 2021, he has been honoured with Cameroon’s top civilian award – the Commander of the National Order of Valour.

In 2015, he was also among “50 Most Influential Individuals in the World” list by Bloomberg Markets and also won ‘the Guardian Man of the Year 2015’ award. Additionally, he is the Chairman, National Partnership Committee of Government and Private Sector on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET); Member, Honorary International Investor Council (HIIC); a Malaria Ambassador; and Founding Board Member and Patron, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), thus contributing towards various aspects such as skill development, good governance and reengineering of the economy, to name a few.


In 2013, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, along with six other eminent Nigerians, was conferred Honorary Citizenship of Arkansas State by Governor Mike Beebe, who also declared May 30 every year as Nigeria Day in the US. Dangote is not only a foremost industrialist in Africa, he is equally loved and respected abroad. He is a member of several national and foreign organizations through which he contributes to the growth and development of people of several countries.

He has been quite active in philanthropic activities including the United Nations’ World Food Programme, Clinton Global Initiative, World Economic Forum, United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Corporate Council on Africa, and many others thus contributing towards global education and eradication of polio. Dangote entrusted a $3.3 million complex to Bayero University Business School. He also donated 150 fully kitted operational cars to the Nigeria Police Force and 200 housing units to Boko Haram victims – mostly women and children. He was also associated with the board of directors of the Clinton Health Access Initiative. In addition to this, he had contributed N50 million (US$ 500,000) to the National Mosque under the aegis of “Friends of Obasanjo and Atiku” and N200 million to the Presidential Library. In 2014, Dangote had donated N150 million for stopping the spread of Ebola virus.

Moreover, to speed-up the work in health, education, economic empowerment and disaster relief sectors, Dangote made an initial offering of $1.25 billion to the Dangote Foundation which now has become the largest private Foundation in sub Saharan Africa. On behalf of his foundation, he also supports stand-alone projects which have potential for significant social impact and works with state and national governments and national and domestic charities. Recently in 2020, he donated N200 million towards the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Suma Natarajan

Dr. Natarajan started her medical career with a MBBS degree in 1979 from the prestigious Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal. She stayed on at KMC and completed her DGO and MD degrees after which she came to Coimbatore. She took a sabbatical to train herself in laparoscopic surgical techniques at Tuttilingen, Germany in 1995. She returned to India to start her career as a consultant in G. Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital, Coimbatore. She eventually took over and spearheaded a busy Obstetrics/Gynecology department at the hospital for almost two decades. During this time, apart from running a high volume clinical practice, she also managed to give back to her academic community by conducting several international conferences and training postgraduates at the institution and beyond. Over the course of her career, she has published several high-impact articles and book chapters in peerreviewed journals and textbooks, and has delivered lectures as an expert speaker in several national and international conferences.


Beyond her clinical and academic endeavors, she has also taken up multiple leadership roles in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has led two successful terms as President of the Coimbatore Chapter of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI). She is also a member of prestigious organizations like Indian Medical Association (IMA), Ultrasound Society of India, Society of Urogynaecologists of India, Indian College of Maternal and Child Health, Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction (ISAR), and Indian Fertility Society (IFS). Notably, she also leads the very popular “Labour Congress” conference every other year and has made a mark for herself in the academic community in India. In pursuit of greater challenges, Dr. Suma moved her practice to Ganga Women and Child Centre, Coimbatore in 2007 where she started the Obstetrics and Gynecology division and continues to serve as the head of the department. Her keen interest in the field of Infertility led her to establish a State-of-the-art infertility treatment center, the Esjay Craft Fertility Center in Ramnagar, Coimbatore.

As a result, she has been able to provide affordable infertility treatment options to struggling couples and give them a chance at experiencing the joy of parenthood. Furthermore, she also serves as Chairman of InHouse Medicare, a facility that has been successfully providing vital in-home services and assisted nursing facilities to many of the vulnerable elders in the community since 2015.


Her achievements have earned her numerous prestigious awards in the medical field including the Mahila Ratna Award in 2014, Acharya Award in 2015, Women’s Achievers Award in 2017, and Lifetime Achievement Award by IMA in 2018 and Lifetime Achievement Award by Coimbatore Obstetric & Gynaecological Society in 2018.

Over the decades, Dr. Suma Natarajan has made her mark as a pioneer in the OB/GYN field and her ultimate vision is to expand her clinical practice with the aim of providing her patients with the most affordable and up-to-date solutions to all of their healthcare needs and ultimately transform the city into an excellent hub for advanced gynecological, infertility and obstetric care.

Pawan K. Sharma

Pawan was born in Faridabad, Haryana to Chaggan Lal Sharma and Kusum Sharma and has 2 elder siblings Poonam Sharma and Rajani Dixit. He is married to Jannat Sharma and has a 9-year-old daughter Menaha Sharma. He has been with Tolaram Group since a very young age. Over the last many years, he has grown along with the company. Owing to his versatility and business acumen, he was entrusted with the responsibility to run West Africa operations for its CPG vertical. Pawan has come across as an embodiment of perseverance whose success story is an inspiration for umpteen aspirers who aim to make a mark for themselves. As he puts it, “As a person who has been a part of the CPG industry in Africa for more than 20 years, I’ve been a fortunate witness to the evolution of the market, and consumer behaviour trends. Ever since Pawan assumed his role as CEO-West Africa, the Group has seen a rise in the diversification of its segments. The business which started with one product in CPG category has diversified to more than 10 categories and 7 countries in West Africa.


Pawan’s entrepreneurial spirit has been the driving force and the reason behind the establishment of many successful brands. His education at the Harvard Business School has provided him with a global perspective and a multicultural approach towards work. He strongly believes that the only way to succeed in a developing market is through economic independence and self-sustenance. Owing to his dedicated efforts, today, Tolaram Group has emerged as one of the fastest-growing CPG companies in emerging markets and it’s changing the lives of millions through their offerings and fully backward integrated operations. A brand is not built in a day and enormous efforts are required in making it see the light of day. Describing the tremendous sweat and toil which went behind establishing so many popular consumer brands, he asserts, “I strongly believe that our brand’s success story defines us, just as much as our struggles to make the brand a success, which is why, to my mind very few stories have matched the magnanimity of the success that our brands owns.” With a humble beginning in the year 2000, Pawan rose to the leadership position in just 2 years and continued to lead the pack in terms of innovation and product quality.” Being extremely involved and enthusiastic about driving the growth of the group to the path to success, he elaborates, “I’m happy to be the hand that was chosen to rewrite history and make group a resounding success. In recent times, we’ve upscaled our portfolio to include beverages and personal care products, and have 20 manufacturing plants and serving more than a billion consumers.”


It is a universally acknowledged fact that a man’s true strength can be assessed by the way in which he deals with adversity. Besides talking about some of the challenges which Mr. Pawan faced, he also shares the techniques which he employed to overcome those challenges, “The market has evolved greatly over time and has grown exponentially in terms of the number of competitors, the expectations of the consumers and the calibre of both the talent and technology employed in product development and innovation facilities. It was, admittedly, an uphill task, but not something we couldn’t handle.

We realized early on that the success of any venture is the result of the single-minded and concentrated effort of an entire team of like-minded and passionate individuals which is aligned with the vision of Founders. So we started at the very base, got the right team on board, identified our strengths and played to them.

Our legacy of 2 decades brought the best of the best on board and set the ball rolling. We explored uncharted territory both in terms of the landscape to establish our facilities and the mindset of the team that led to some of our path-breaking innovations.” He addresses tough situations with fresh strategies that are purely guided by the mantra of ‘Passion and Commitment.’ He has always understood the importance of guiding values, empathy and liberty to dream.


Pawan owes his happiness and success to a strong support system, “While I have been on the quest for innovation, my entire family has been a pillar of support that I could always lean on, especially my wife. My father and mother have inspired me in innumerable ways specially how not to give up to adversity and pave your success path from nothing. Banking on the efficient support system of his family, he elatedly expresses, “My wife & daughter always gave me that boost & support when I was entangled in solving business issues and spending long hours at work.”

He adds, “When it came to making hiring suggestions and decisions for talent to assist with back-office operations, choosing and deploying the right technology and IT resources to ensure a hassle-free production process, we always went for the best. We are implementing the SAP ERP model, for efficient resource management. With an efficient and competent R&D Team, we were able to tap into the evolving needs of the user base and devise innovative solutions to fulfil those needs.”


From the very beginning, Pawan has been more than just a CEO. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he motivated the employees at Tolaram to contribute towards relief work. Serving and helping people with food for days, this support drive continued for over 6 months across the country. As an expression of gratitude, Tolaram gifted hampers to the frontline heroes, doctors, nurses and healthcare workers for their selfless service to the nation during the pandemic.

Pawan also ensured that even with reduced work hours the quality of service was never compromised. Continually bent on improving lives, Pawan has been leading by example and continues to inspire many more so that everyone in need of help is touched and benefited positively.

He asserts, “Our CSR initiatives are closely driven and largely motivated by our Founder’s sentiments, as a Tolaram family, we have always centered each of our initiatives around the act of giving. In 2015, the Group restructured into a trust and created a Tolaram Charity Foundation – a beneficiary of 25% of its profits.”

Mahendra Vora

Mr. Vora comes from a humble Jain family with a solid business background. His strong desire for success from a young age, combined with his excellent upbringing and education, has shaped him into a successful individual. The astute and enthusiastic leader holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics and Communications from Gujarat University (India). The success of the programmerturned-innovator is genuinely remarkable, and it can be credited to his years of hard work and professionalism. Under his inspiring leadership, Vora Ventures is taking giant strides and has been showing remarkable business growth consistently on a year-by-year basis.


Mr. Vora has been based in Cincinnati since early 1988 after graduating from the University of Michigan. The high-tech industry veteran considers his relocation to the Blue Chip City as propitious because it allowed him to join a friend and fellow student who was launching a business in the same city. Mr. Vora has spent the last 29 years in the Tri-State area, co-founding and selling multiple profitable technology ventures to Fortune 500 companies. In 2005, he sold his first tech start-up for more than $100 million in Ohio.

In 2006, Mr. Vora founded Vora Ventures as a private equity holding company for 11 businesses, including Ascendum, Ascendum KPS (India), AssureCare, Aquiire (sold in October 2018), CenterGrid, KoncertIT, Zakta, Bluespring, Open Commerce, Vora Technology Towers, and Vora Technology Park. In 2014, Vora Ventures became the largest self-funded tech group – a remarkable achievement. In 2017, the ambitious leader purchased Sourcebits, a cutting-edge digital solutions firm headquartered in Ohio. In 2018, Mr. Vora purchased ShakeDeal, India’s leading B2B Online Marketplace. In addition, he bought Hinge Global in 2019. It is a digital commerce startup based in Cincinnati that works with Fortune 1000 companies to enhance their eCommerce revenue. Additionally, he has set up over 25 tech start-ups in Tier-II cities.


According to Mr. Vora, obstacles and hurdles are an inevitable part of entrepreneurship, particularly in the IT industry, where one must learn to come to terms with constant change. The optimistic leader believes that each challenge reveals a key opportunity to grow. He says, “If you see an obstacle as a challenge, it is indeed a challenge. But if you are motivated by the obstacle, then it turns into an opportunity. I believe that impediments should always be viewed as opportunities.” It is his vigorous optimism that drives him to stay focused on the future while dealing with today’s obstacles. Mr. Vora is renowned for his innovation, speed of execution, sound business principles, and concern for his employees. His business strategies are based on five core values – frugality with flair, aggressiveness with ethics, humility with confidence, quality with speed, and creativity with the process. Throughout his career, he has spearheaded advanced and powerful information technologies in the domain of distributed (client/server) and Internet-based computing, as well as advanced search engines and text-mining. The visionary leader has also pioneered the design of numerous leading-edge software projects, including Pioneer Systems (bought by Unisys), ICC (bought by Attachmate), SecureIT (bought by VeriSign), and Intelliseek (merged with Nielsen-Buzzmetrics).


Mr. Vora is a bold leader who dares to deviate from the herd mentality. He believes that common sense provides a safe haven for those who do not want to venture outside of their comfort zone. As a focused leader, he undoubtedly observes common sense, but does not follow it. He’s on a mission to discover uncommon senses so that he can present his clients with unique solutions that the rest of the world hasn’t thought of yet. Mr. Vora believes in creating a sense of spirited and engaged urgency with his team for success. Embracing and instilling a genuine sense of urgency enables him to do tasks more quickly and rationally. As a dynamic motivator, he constantly exhibits and conveys the importance of urgency via his actions, conduct, and words. He says, “The world is moving at a faster pace as a result of technological advancements; thus, moving slowly could prove disastrous for my business. Thus, I believe in working with a sense of urgency to achieve my goals.”


Mr. Vora is well-known for his active involvement, and dedication to the local and global communities. He believes in leaving a lasting impression by reinvesting in people and communities. The compassionate leader gives 2% of his profits to Vora Foundation, which has partnered with Green Light Foundation to help children, teens, and families in high-poverty urban areas better their lives. He also supports the Ekal Vidyalaya campaign – a movement that aims at providing education to every child by establishing one-teacher schools in the most remote rural and tribal villages in India. What’s more, he encourages his employees to participate in charitable activities through The Vora Charitable Action Committee.

To deal with the challenges of the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, he ensured that there have been no layoffs or pay cuts during the pandemic, not even for hourly employees. What’s more, Ascendum Solutions has also launched SafeReturn, a health screening app for students and workers in the US, for improving safety and driving actionable intelligence to reduce COVID-19 incidences.


Mr. Vora’s experience and zeal for excellence have won him several international accreditations. The exuberant leader, also known as the Midwest’s high-tech poster boy, is the youngest winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Innovation at Midwest Awards in 2014. He added another feather to his cap when he was awarded the 2019 “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the ACG Deal Maker Awards. He has also been the finalist for the 2001 and 2002 “Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year” Award.

Smt. Indu Jain

As the Chairperson of The Times Group, Smt. Indu Jain has enabled the conglomerate to enter new realms of advancement with her phenomenal efforts, matchless determination and indomitable leadership. She has strengthened the group’s leading position in television, radio and online media. Further, owing to her dedicated efforts over the years, The Times of India has not only established itself as the most popular newspaper of the nation, but it has boldly stamped its position as the world’s largest-selling English broadsheet daily.

Under Smt. Indu Jain’s able leadership, the group also operates several popular television channels offering content across multiple genres. The group’s general and business news channels, Times Now, Mirror Now and ET Now, have redefined news and debates. Alongside, its entertainment and lifestyle channel, Zoom, has huge viewership. In the radio business, the group owns and operates the genre benchmark FM channel, Radio Mirchi. Chairperson Smt. Indu Jain has also overseen the group’s expansion and leadership in the digital media space.

Being a firm believer in empowering others with knowledge, Smt. Indu Jain has also established a world-class university located in Noida, UP. Bennett University offers international-level multidisciplinary courses and prepares students for what Chairperson Indu Jain believes will be the most important issues of the coming years, ranging from economics to ecology, social transitions to technology.

Under her leadership, the group has also ventured into the business of film production and distribution. In fact, thanks to her farseeing stewardship, the group is now a dominant player in the cinema industry.

The Times Group’s company, Junglee Pictures, has produced cutting-edge films that have been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. These include the gritty ‘Talvar’, which won two National Awards, and the now-iconic ‘Raazi’, a pathbreaking film depicting a real-life espionage agent and her personal challenges.

All of these endeavours underline Smt. Indu Jain’s consistent commitment to creating a positive impact around the perception of women’s status in society. She has powerfully championed the cause of women’s empowerment across the globe. In India, her passionate advocacy led to the formation of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry – Ladies Organization (FLO). She is the Founder Member of FLO and an icon of women leading businesses in what was once an unquestioned male sphere.

Alongside, Smt. Indu Jain has always appreciated and promoted literature and culture. She is the President Emeritus of Bharatiya Jnanpith, which is considered the highest literary honour in India. Her judgement and refined perceptions have steered the organisation towards recognising and celebrating some of the country’s most compelling and vibrant literary talent.


A deep philosophical thinker, Smt. Indu Jain practices spirituality in all spheres of her life. While approaching various issues, whether in the world of business, education, art or culture, she constantly draws from her deep well of spiritual understanding and guidance. Her humane and philosophically rich approach has enriched the mindscape of not just the Times Group, but also the entire Indian media. She views every incident of life, even its challenges and occasional setbacks, as the Grace of God. “The divine leads” is her guiding principle and belief. While recognising and tackling all the challenges which material life presents, Smt. Indu Jain has always been a true visionary, with her efforts to bring spirituality to the workplace, across India and the corporate world.

She has authored two books which share vast and valuable knowledge about saints, sages and spiritualism in India. The books have been best-sellers and have gone into multiple print runs. Her ‘Encyclopaedia of Indian Saints and Sages’ is a unique publication which gives a glimpse of different strands and lineages within Buddhist, Jain, Hindu and Sikh belief, exploring the profound legacies and simple teachings of their great spiritual heads and secular masters.

To encourage spirituality within an Indian corporate culture, she has promoted ‘Sach Bharat’, an initiative between the Times Foundation, ASSOCHAM, the Aditya Birla Group and the SREI Foundation. She has also created two large ashram facilities at the Art of Living Ashram, Bangalore and the Isha Foundation, Coimbatore. Besides imbibing the spiritual benefits of staying at such inspiring places, corporate employees can also hold important conferences there.


Apart from harnessing the growth potential of the multiple businesses where the Times Group is already active, Smt. Indu Jain’s vision is to lead the organisation into newer and ever more exciting business fields. An innate leader, she believes that the group should always lead the change and move ceaselessly towards bigger opportunities, instead of resting on its laurels. This spirit of striving for growth and imagining new horizons was summed up by her in 2013, when the group celebrated its 175th anniversary. Smt. Indu Jain, a visionary par excellence, declared, “We are not 175 years old but 175 years young – and the journey has just begun.”


Smt. Indu Jain has always striven to give back to society and empower some of its most vulnerable groups. In 2000, she founded and now heads The Times Foundation, which has garnered international acclaim for its activities in the field of development. The Times Foundation forges multi-stakeholder partnerships and acts as a point of convergence for government agencies, NGOs, the corporate sector, multilateral agencies and individuals working towards inclusive and equitable socio-economic development.

It is a platform for engaging meaningfully on critical national imperatives to enhance public awareness and facilitate impactful dialogues on crucial issues – these include water, environment, education, health, women’s empowerment, disaster relief and rehabilitation, advocacy, vocational training and spiritual wellness. The Foundation’s motto is “Your Mission is Our Mission”, which recognises the spirit of cooperation and mutual inspiration a bountiful society must have.

She also supports a ‘Widow Ashram’ at Vrindavan, which teaches vulnerable women’s groups life skills and ensures dignity for them. Apart from her many social initiatives, Smt. Indu Jain has always stepped up to the forefront whenever our nation has been hit by calamities. A proud and committed Indian, through the Foundation, she has provided monetary and other assistance to help and empower the needy to reconstruct their lives.

By combining tremendous business growth with deep ethical and spiritual pursuits, Smt. Indu Jain has shown a path of inspiration and motivation to many corporate and business leaders.