Successful Indian businesses have taken ‘path less travelled’: Piramal Group Chairman

Winner of the TiEcon Chennai 2017 awards with R. Thiiagarajan, Chairman, Shriram Group

Successful Indian businesses have always “dared to do something different” and have taken the “path less travelled”, says Ajay Piramal, Chairman, Piramal Group.

Addressing entrepreneurs at TiECON Chennai 2017, Piramal drew on his four decades’ experience to illustrate the key factors for success – acting on a driving desire; realising challenges present an opportunity; associating with people who hold good values; and being a value-based organisation. These had contributed to building a home-grown global enterprise.

His grandfather, a farmer in a village in Rajasthan, had decided to do something different and moved to Mumbai with ₹50 to start a business. Later, when the textile business went through challenging times, he himself had decided to enter pharmaceutical business.

Though the two businesses had nothing in common “I realised that was the future,” Piramal said.

At that time in 1988 they had been ranked 48th in that business. He had committed to the goal of being among the top five by the turn of the century and managed it by 2000. It is important to set a goal initially and “a clear strategy evolves with the broad direction”, he assured.

“We have repeatedly done this,” he asserted.

Piramal Group had entered real estate development when they decided to convert a pharma unit in the heart of Mumbai into a shopping mall. The unit was high cost and loss making. This resulted in Crossroads, the country’s first mall.

Always associate with ‘good people, people with values who do not need to associate with you’. It is such people who give honest advice. “Entrepreneurship is a tough journey with lots of distractions” and having the right set of people on board is important, he said.

Equally, a strong set of values for the organisation stands in good stead.

Piramal group always keeps to an agreement in letter and spirit. Even with its first entry into pharma sector, it had respected the seller’s conditions to maintain international standards of quality since the brand was present in other markets and not gotten into exports of those products.

But this “was the single most important reason for Piramal becoming the first port of call for multinationals that planned to exit India. And we paid a lower price,” he said.

“Values create economic value,” he assured.