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India's Top 25 CEOs
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India's Top 25 CEOs

India's Top 25 CEOs
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The BT-INSEAD-HBR study identifies and ranks 25 top performers of corporate India. Here are the top six performers, followed by the next 19 of India's best-performing CEOs.

Naveen Jindal
Don't go by his detached demeanour. He has converted a tiny and ailing factory into a Rs 47,000-crore empire

A.M. Naik
When he started out, his odds of getting a job at L&T were low. But the company's success owes much to his doggedness

Y.C. Deveshwar
The ITC chief's crack team has converted every penalty corner into a goal

Bhaskar Bhat
He has made India-made watches respectable, providing Titan Industries's investors undreamt-of returns in the process

Sunil Mittal
Guts, smarts and luck have catapulted Sunil Mittal to the top of the Indian corporate sweepstakes

R. Sridhar
Led by him, Shriram Transport Finance has created an ecosystem for commercial vehicle finance
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Rank 7: Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries
After the commissioning of the second refinery at Jamnagar under Reliance Petroleum in 2008, Mukesh Ambani told shareholders at an annual general meeting that real assets needed to be built on the ground such as the new refinery, and that paper wealth was meaningless.
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Rank 8: Vijay Jindal, Zee Entertainment Enterprises
As the Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Zee Telefilms from 1996 to 2000, Vijay Gopal Jindal steered the company in entreprenuerial style. He was instrumental in taking Zee TV from a single-channel company to a multigenre media powerhouse. He has also steered the global expansion of the Zee group into Europe and US.
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Rank 8: Pankaj R. Patel, Cadila Healthcare
Call him a strategic thinker or a calculated risk-taker. In 1995, Pankaj Patel, CMD, Cadila Healthcare, worried more about setting up a state-ofthe-art plant at Moraiya on the outskirts of Ahmedabad than survival. The same attitude took the company from $400 million in 2007 to over $1 billion in 2010/11.
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Rank 8: Pangal Jayendra Nayak, Axis Bank
Pangal Jayendra Nayak helped Axis Bank stitch a successful private equity venture. At a meeting with an investee company, Nayak took centrestage. "He did 90 per cent of the talking without annoying anyone," says a PE professional. "He asked all the questions we thought we should be asking a company where we are going to deploy our money."
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Rank 11: Subir Raha, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation
In 2006, Subir Raha was spotted anxiously pacing in his chambers. When a fax arrived from Moody's, staffers understood its true portent. The credit rating agency named ONGC as the most creditworthy company in India, a couple of notches above the sovereign rating - the best achieved by any Indian firm then.
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Rank 12: Kalyan Ganguly, United Breweries
Employees credit Kalyan Ganguly, President, Breweries Division, UB Group, for his leadership and delegation skills. His analytical acumen has helped sustain the UB brand for many years despite fast-changing liquor policies. He funds the education of 45 children of workers at NGO Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, with which his wife is involved.
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Rank 13: Madhukar B. Parekh, Pidilite Industries
Madhukar Parekh is Dr Fixit for Pidilite. His insights ensured Pidilite launched and grew in the construction chemicals category. In over four decades, Parekh has worked in virtually every department and ensured that manufacturing units' processes are precisely monitored through an internally developed quality assurance system.
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Rank 13: Sunil Duggal, Dabur India
Sunil Duggal is respected for his ability to take a position. He backed his team's decision to launch a new pudina variant for Hajmola candy, despite Chairman Anand Burman rejecting the new taste.
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Rank 15: V.K. Rekhi, United Spirits
Vijay Kumar Rekhi, of United Spirits at UB, is an artist at heart. He is currently pushing Vijay Mallya and others in the industry to set up a beverage alcohol academy in India to churn out beer- and wine-making specialists, while inspiring innovation in the country's heritage booze like Goa's Feni.
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Rank 16: V.S. Jain, Steel Authority of India
V.S. Jain, a chartered accountant, obsesses over reducing borrowings and modernisation of steel plants. At his last board meeting in SAIL, just a day before his tenure ended, Jain approved Rs11,000 crore for modernisation of three plants with a stroke of the pen. At Jindal Steel now, he brings the same passion to his work.
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Rank 17: Prakash Kulkarni, Thermax
For bringing back Thermax's only loss-making division back into the black, Prakash Kulkarni declared that his Managing Director M.S. Unnikrishnan would get a Honda City, the same car he himself was driving, proving he is a leader without airs, who appreciates jobs well done.
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Rank 18: L.A. Dean, Sesa Goa
L.A. Dean helped Sesa Goa secure higher value contracts in China, just when the iron ore market was beginning to grow. Says P.K. Mukherjee, current Managing Director: "Despite his technical background, Dean had a nuanced understanding of the marketing aspects of the business, which came largely from his stint at BHP Billiton."
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Rank 18: A.K. Puri, Bharat Heavy Electricals
When Ashok Kumar Puri realised that BHEL might not be able to invest over $5 billion in BHEL R&D, he quickly tied up with GE and Siemens to pursue joint bids in the power equipment business. Puri anticipated Chinese aggression and pitched for petrochemical and refinery businesses to ring-fence BHEL.
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Rank 20: Ashok Soni, Voltas
Voltas was staring down a dark hole about a decade ago. Its commander-in-chief Ashok Soni had his task cut out. Soni set out to restore Voltas's past glory. He and his team visited the company's plants and offices, and offered the staff voluntary retirement schemes. The workers' union agreed and helped the company on to the path to a $1-billion top line.
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Rank 21: B. Muthuraman, Tata Steel
You can falter at one step and yet find success later, if you persist in your goals. That is the lesson Tata veteran Muthuraman values from his days at Tata Steel. He tried unsuccessfully to set up the Gopalpur project, became Managing Director and, in 2004, took the Tatas back to Orissa at Kalinganagar. Muthuraman also led the charge in taking over Corus.
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Rank 22: S.S. Kohli, Punjab National Bank
S.S. Kohli always banked on time management at the corner rooms of Punjab National Bank and India Infrastructure Finance Company. A director of a credit rating agency remembers how Kohli cut short a presentation to explain the rationale for a debt issuance and uttered five magical words: "Let us discuss the fee."
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Rank 23: Anand Mahindra, Mahindra & Mahindra
In 1991, Anand Mahindra was trapped in his office in the Mumbai suburb of Borivali with a mob baying for his blood outside; and he recalled "that was the closest I have ever come to death". Undeterred, he took on the militant staff and won. The result: massive productivity increases.
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Rank 24: R. Seshasayee, Ashok Leyland
R. Seshasayee, currently Vice Chairman, got Ashok Leyland, or ALL, future-ready by making the commercial vehicle major self-reliant in technology, plugging product gaps and giving it agility by making it a youth-friendly organisation. Most importantly, he made ALL a smart place to work.
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Rank 24: R. Seshasayee, Ashok Leyland
R. Seshasayee, currently Vice Chairman, got Ashok Leyland, or ALL, future-ready by making the commercial vehicle major self-reliant in technology, plugging product gaps and giving it agility by making it a youth-friendly organisation. Most importantly, he made ALL a smart place to work.