Kumar Mangalam Birla: A Successful Scion who Upraised the Legacy
Every household in India has used ‘Birla’ as the synonym for opulent. We won’t have come across one person who has not heard of the Birlas. Let’s meet the fourth generation of the Birla family, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of Aditya Birla Group, a commerce graduate, who went on to pursue MBA from London Business School from where he even holds the honorary award. On his father Aditya Vikram Birla’s insistence, he later enrolled into CA at Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, which he cleared in the very first attempt and emerged as one amongst the toppers. After losing his father to cancer, Kumar took charge as the Chairman of the prestigious Birla Group at the young age of 28 in 1995.
Initially, many doubted his efficiency to manage the enormous empire, but Kumar’s educational background and business ethics, which he inherited from his ancestors, proved them wrong. On obtaining his business lessons from his father, he says, “My father taught us that to thrive, excellence in technology, quality, and customer service along with cost competitiveness is a prerequisite. His contribution to business, the economy, and society at large can never be underscored enough”.
In his tenure, Kumar majorly worked on reorganizing the business, among all the sectors in which the company is spread across, intending to be the leader of those sectors. He has a unique style to incorporate currents trends in the business world, and also comes up with easiest solution for even the most complex problem the business goes through. These are the key tips for his exceptionally successful leadership. He even claims that he always remains calm and patient while at work and has lost his temper only thrice in his more than two decades of entrepreneurial journey, which was also for genuine reasons.
Though the Birla Group was an ancestral business, which was passed on to Kumar, it was his hard work and business strategies that brought in the global recognition for the Aditya Birla Group. Under his leadership, nearly 36 acquisitions were completed, which stands out to be the highest amongst other Indian multinationals. His major international acquisitions include Novelis, Columbian Chemicals, Domsjö Fabriker, and CTP GmbH- Chemicals & Technologies. Subsequently, the dealmaking tycoon’s acquisitions in his motherland include Jaypee Cement plants, Binani Cement, Cement division of Larsen & Toubro, Indal, Madura Garments, the Chlor Alkali division of Kanoria Chemicals and Solaris Chemtech Industries. The most recent & prominent acquisition of all is the merger of Vodafone & Idea, which now has turned as the world’s second largest telco. By all these take overs, Kumar has elevated the Birla Group. The company’s enormous turn over from $2 billion in 1995 to $48.3 billion in 2019 is the witness for Kumar’s contribution to the Group.
Every individual post his success usually chooses to give back to the society through charity and philanthropic works. But Kumar choose to contribute through education as he says, “There are two roadblocks in the way of transforming India into an economic giant and one of them was education. I believe that if education is privatized at primary and secondary level, lot of our problems will be answered to”. Being an educationalist, he is the Chancellor of BITS, IIT Delhi, and IIM Ahmedabad. He also encourages other educational works through Aditya Birla Foundation.
Awards and Appreciation
Kumar for his impeccable contribution towards the stewardship has been bestowed with innumerous awards. Most prominent among them are CEO of the Year Award 2016, Global Leadership Award 2014, Entrepreneur of the Year 2012, NDTV Profit Business Leadership Awards 2012, Business Leader Award in 2003 & 2013 and many more.
The born billionaire, being satisfied on his journey states, “I think a leader has many roles to play. So, you know, one role is that of incubating talent; the other is that of being a strategist. It’s a very interesting job I’ve got.”