LED BY CONVICTION
Mr. Gautam Shantilal Adani, the Chairman and Founder of the Adani Group, has more than 33 years of business experience. Under his leadership, Adani Group has emerged as a global integrated infrastructure player with interest across Resources, Logistics and Energy verticals. The able leader prefers to stand strong in the storm. A firm believer of the idea of New India and its global growth in the coming decades, the leader is committed to his business and social responsibility in building an inclusive, progressive society.
“IN 2022, IN THE YEAR OF THE CENTENARY BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS FATHER AND HIS OWN 60TH BIRTHDAY, GAUTAM ADANI COMMITTED A DONATION OF RS. 60,000 CRORE TO A RANGE OF SOCIAL CAUSES. THIS CORPUS IS BEING ADMINISTERED BY THE ADANI FOUNDATION”
In one of his recent speeches, Gautam Adani opened about the regrets and opportunities of his life. In a speech, the 60-year-old businessman regretted quitting formal education at the age of 16 for work. While the decision exposed him to various challenges, the grand opportunity called India surely worked for him. The Adani Group is just one manifestation of India’s entrepreneur success story, he said in his address, adding that the country holds the potential to build 100 Adani Groups.
Today, with less than five decades in business, Gautam owns a phenomenal journey that has seen his group become the world’s largest solar power company, largest airport and sea port operator in India, the country’s largest integrated energy player and second largest cement manufacturer, a conglomerate with market capitalisation of over $225 billion, and a story of transformation for many future generations of entrepreneurs.
A SYMBOL OF HOPE AND HUMILITY
Adani was born in 1962 in Ahmedabad to a textile merchant, Shantilal Adani and his wife Shantaben. The couple had migrated from the town of Tharad in the northern part of Gujarat. After finishing his education with Sheth Chimanlal Nagindas Vidyalaya in Ahmedabad, he took admission in B.Com in Gujarat University, but dropped out after the second year to join his father’s textile business. In 1978, at the age of 16, he left for Mumbai to work as a diamond sorter. A fast learner, Gautam mastered the art and launched his own diamond brokerage firm at Zaveri Bazaar, Mumbai.
Led by the desire of consistent growth, which diamond trading could not offer, Gautam joined his elder brother Mansukhbhai Adani in 1981 to help manage a plastic-film manufacturing business he had just acquired. This venture proved to be his gateway to global trading through polyvinyl chloride (PVC) imports. By 1985, he started importing primary polymers for small-scale industries. His consistent and ingenious efforts led to the establishment of Adani Exports Limited in 1988, starting with the exports of agricultural and power commodities. The company, now known as Adani Enterprises Limited, is the holding company of the Adani Group. A major breakthrough of his career came with the economic liberalisation of 1991, which made trading and exporting favourable for his company. The reform helped him diversify and expand his businesses into trading of metals, textiles and agro products. However, the major turning point in his career graph came in 1993, when the Government of Gujarat announced managerial outsourcing of the Mundra Port in Gujarat.
In 1995, Gautam bagged the contract of Mundra Port and began his journey as an infrapreneur. The same year, he set up the first jetty, and started port functions from the Mundra Port & Special Economic Zone, later shifting them to Adani Ports & SEZ Limited (APSEZ). Initially, he took approval from the Gujarat government to set up a harbour facility to handle its own cargo at Mundra Port, but sensing the potential in the project, decided to turn it into a commercial port. He built rail and road links to the port by individually negotiating with more than 500 landowners across India. Registering consistent growth, Today, APSEZ has become the largest private multi-port operator in India. Mundra Port, with the capacity of handling close to 210 million tonnes of cargo per annum, is the largest private sector port in India.
Power was the next sector for Gautam to venture. In 1996, he founded Adani Power Limited. Today, with the capacity of 4620 MW, the company is the largest private thermal power producer of the country. It is also India’s largest closely held thermal coal producer and the largest coal trader. In 2006, Gautam expanded to the power generation business and acquired Carmichael Coal in Queensland and Abbot Point Port in Australia. In 2018, he completed the acquisition of the power business of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure in Mumbai. In 2019, he forayed into the petrochemicals sector with a $2.6 billion joint venture with Germany’s BASF and won bids to run six domestic airports.
The driving force behind the Group’s rise has been Adani’s swift response to opportunities. “If you analyse a problem too much, you will never tap the opportunity,” says the leader. While the Group has diversified into industries ranging from logistics, energy, agriculture, defence, aerospace, real estate, ports, special economic zones, to IT-enabled services and many more, there are threads that bind them together. The business of commodities trading, edible oil manufacturing, Mundra port operations, and distribution of natural gas are its core businesses, and the Group’s expansion has been based on the synergy among its various business units with which they stay together and empower each other to be more productive and competitive.
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
Gautam has led the Adani Group to several prestigious national and international awards and honours for its corporate performance. He has bagged numerous awards himself for his professional commitment, entrepreneurial success and unique vision.
The conglomerate bagged the Dun & Bradstreet – Rolta Corporate Award for outstanding performance in Trading, the Five Star Export House Award, the FIEO’s Niryat Shree Gold Trophy, the ICSI award for Excellence in Corporate Governance, the GCCI Export Appreciation Award, the International Code for the Security of Ships and of Port Facilities (ISPS) for Compliance by Ministry of Shipping, Government of India, the SRTEPC Award, to name a few. The Mundra Port and SEZ has been awarded the Port Authority Award by Lloyd’s List for the Best Port in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent. Gautam was awarded the Excellence in Management Award by the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
GROWTH WITH GOODNESS
In 2022, in the year of the centenary birth anniversary of his father and his own 60th birthday, Gautam committed a donation of Rs. 60,000 crore to a range of social causes. This corpus is being administered by the Adani Foundation.
He also serves as the President of Adani Foundation, which he runs with his wife Priti Adani. The foundation draws inspiration from the Gandhian philosophy of trusteeship, and strives to create sustainable opportunities. Founded in 1996 as the corporate social responsibility arm of the Adani Group, the Foundation initially worked with a few rural communities around the Mundra Port. It gradually developed a team of committed professionals to meticulously plan and implement developmental and growth programmes in rural communities. The work of the foundation has enabled holistic development of several communities, contributing to the global agenda of meeting Sustainable Development Goals. Today, it works in the spheres of education, community health, medical aid, rural infrastructure management and development, sustainable livelihood management and charitable initiatives in several Indian states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.