Forbes India Leadership Awards 2019: India's best business leaders

The Forbes India Leadership Awards recognise the vision and strategies of business leaders who excelled in a challenging corporate environment

Salil Panchal
Published: Nov 22, 2019 01:53:08 PM IST

Life is not a template and neither is mine. Like several who have worked as journalists, I am a generalist in my over two decade experience across print, global news wires and dotcom firms. But there has been one underlying theme in each phase; life gave me the chance to observe and tell a story -- from early days tracking a securities scam to terror attacks and some of India's most significant court trials. Besides writing, I have jumped fences to become an entrepreneur, as an investment advisor -- and also taught the finer aspects of business journalism to young minds. At Forbes India, I also keep an eye on some of its proprietary specials like the Rich list, GenNext and Celebrity lists. An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Communications and H.R College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, I have worked for organisations such as Agence France-Presse, Business Standard, The Financial Express and The Times of India prior to this.

Forbes India Leadership Awards 2019: India's best business leadersCelebrating achievers and their remarkable journeys against all odds

The Forbes India Leadership Awards (FILA), now in its ninth year, are an acknowledgement of corporate excellence, visionary leadership and innovation. Our distinguished jury navigated the corporate landscape to identify companies and business leaders worthy of the honour.

The year gone by could not have been worse for corporate India. The country is in the midst of a slowdown with the pace of growth slowest in over six years. A deeper crisis looms large. The government is yet to admit this, but Krishnamurthy Subramanian, chief economic advisor to the government, has spoken about “signs of a slowdown”. In such a scenario, achieving corporate excellence, turning around business fortunes, or scaling up startups is rare.

Besides the quantitative data, which includes operating performance, efficiency measures and evaluation with peers, Forbes India looked at qualitative factors to map leadership skills, quality of corporate governance, and effective management.

This year, we included a Special Jury category to recognise the efforts of Bhaskar Bhat, whose transformation of Titan and role in the Tata Group cannot be ignored. Havell India’s Anil Rai Gupta wins the Entrepreneur for the Year award for maintaining critical growth rates (revenue grew by a CAGR of 18 percent in five years to ₹10,058 crore) in a tough business cycle, while readying for organic growth. Shiv Nadar, like Azim Premji in 2018, wins the Lifetime Achievement Award, for not just revolutionising India’s technology landscape but also building HCL Technologies into a global enterprise across 44 countries. Nadar’s contributions towards his philanthropic foundation are also noteworthy. 

The other business leaders to be honoured are Xiaomi’s Manu Kumar Jain (Best CEO-MNC), Marico’s Saugata Gupta (Best CEO-Private Sector), Indraprastha Gas’s Managing Director ES Ranganathan (Best Company-Public Sector) and Parle Agro’s Nadia Chauhan (GenNext Entrepreneur), who has revamped sales and distribution and innovated with products to grow in size. Sandeep Patel, who founded Nepra—a waste management business—wins the award for Entrepreneur with Social Impact, for growing at 100 percent in the past year. Rapidly growing online B2B ecommerce marketplace Udaan wins the award for Outstanding Startup.

The process started almost four months ago, with extensive research on qualitative and quantitative parameters. The long-list of names in each category was whittled down by September and narrowed down to a strong set of five to eight nominees. In October, the high-powered jury headed by Harsh Mariwala, founder and chairman of Marico, went through the nominations and decided on the winners. The other jury members were Ashu Suyash, Gautam Kumra, Mihir Doshi, Saurabh Mukherjea and Puneet Bhatia. KPMG, Forbes India’s knowledge partner, helped with the content for dockets sent to the jury; Veratech Intelligence helped with financial data of the companies.

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(This story appears in the 06 December, 2019 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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