Nita Ambani, Board member, RIL Photo: M Zhazo/www.indiatodayimages.com
Nita Ambani has been inducted into the board of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). Wife of Chairman Mukesh Ambani, she will fill in the seat left vacant by the retirement of Ramnikbhai Ambani, her late father-in-law Dhirubhai Ambani's elder brother, According to RIL, she "made significant contributions by conceptualising and guiding its corporate identity development across all formats". In her acceptance speech, she said: "My mission will be to bring speed, scale and social contract to RIL's larger mission." Besides helming Mumbai Indians, which won the Indian Premier League in 2013 and won the Champions League twice, Nita Ambani is also credited with planning and developing a large township in Jamnagar, Gujarat, and planting 3.2 million trees over 2,000 acres at RIL's Jamnagar refinery site.
Alok Nanda, Founder, Alok Nanda & Co
Adman Alok Nanda firmly believes that while a campaign does play a role in brand building, a well-designed brand can take it to the next level. His branding and design firm, Alok Nanda & Company, won a Grand Prix award in the design category at the Ad Club awards in Goa this year. One can actually get a vivid glimpse of his passion for design at Filter, his quaint studio tucked in a South Mumbai bylane. It retails a variety of things, from T-shirts and bags to coffee mugs and even filter coffee and chocolates, under the brand name Filter. A big pull factor towards these products is, obviously, the design. The coffee packs, for instance, have intricate motifs of Madhubani art on them. Nanda is excited about the fact that his chocolate brand - available in Indian flavours, such as paan, aamras, among others - will soon be available at the Harrods in London.
Bijou Kurien, Board member, L Capital Asia
He was the chief executive of the lifestyle arm of Reliance Retail and now Bijou Kurien has taken to mentoring start-ups, a different world altogether, in his words. What amazes him the most is the risk-taking appetite of the 20-something entrepreneurs. "I couldn't imagine taking the kind of risks these young entrepreneurs are willing to take when I was their age. I was so comfortable with the security of my job, unlike these youngsters who are so comfortable with the insecurity of their jobs." Kurien has also become a member of the strategic advisory board at L Capital Asia, a private equity firm. Here, his role is to help seasoned enterprises to take their businesses to the next level. Both the roles, he claims, have opened up a new set of learnings. "They have enabled me to look at businesses from a larger financial perspective rather than just strategy."
Betting on real estate
Gulbir S. Madan, Chairman, Brahma Management
Gulbir S. Madan, 54, has real estate in his blood. Without any job or business plan in mind, he went to the US in his late teens and forayed into the sector at 22. At the time, there was a boom in the US to convert apartments into condominiums. Madan made a killing out of it and slowly shifted into the asset management business. In 2005, he saw an opportunity in India and made investments in private and publicly-traded companies. Later, he forayed into the real estate sector in the country. Today, his company Brahma Management, an FDI-funded investment and asset management group, has three projects under construction - a mall in Gurgaon, and a township each in Gurgaon and Panchkula, near Chandigarh. "When we came to India, we realised that infrastructure and real estate would do exceedingly well in the long term. Infrastructure didn't interest us because of low returns. We decided that we will allocate some money to real estate. Now real estate has become a larger part of our investment portfolio," says Madan. "Gurgaon is one of the better markets but we [also] have plans to invest in Bangalore and Mumbai."