Gautam Adani: From a College Dropout to Billionaire Industrialist
In the business world, there are many who have made it big, starting from the scratch. Gautam Adani Founder & Chairman of Adani Group is one amongst such entrepreneurs, who refused to settle for anything less. Today, he stands as one of the prime business tycoons of the country, with his net worth approximating to $10.9 billion.
Gautam was born into a Jain family in Gujarat. His father, a textile merchant, with great difficulty managed to meet his eight children’s needs. Gautam, after completing his schooling from Sheth Chimanlal Nagindas Vidyalaya, took up B.Com at Gujarat University. But the Gujarati in him instigated his inner interest for business, and sooner he chose to quit his education to satisfy the urge for realizing his business dream. On dropping his college Gautham states, "I was in college for two years but I didn't attend too much. Then I decided to drop out. I was having too many nightmares about failing in the exams".
With an aspiration to achieve something big, Gautam reached Mumbai. In 1978, he secured his first job as diamond sorter at Mahindra Brothers. He spent few years there, until he gained a wider knowledge in the business. He soon set up his own diamond brokerage firm at Zaveri Bazaar, an iconic jewelry market place in the city. Past a year, his elder brother, Mansukhbhai Adani, had purchased a plastic unit in Ahmedabad, Gujarat and invited Gautam over to join him in managing the new business. This marked a critical moment in Gautam’s entrepreneurial journey. His decision to incorporate polyvinyl chloride (PVC) import into the newly established business paved the way for the Adanis to reach the global trading. Following this, the Adanis continued to import PVC for smaller industries, and in 1988, the company went on to establish its exports naming Adani Enterprise Limited under the holding company Adani Groups. It initially focused just on the power and agricultural products.
The 1991’s economic liberalization policies actually turned to be beneficial to the company, as it permitted the company’s business expansion across agro, metal and textile trading. This in turn provided the multinational conglomerate status to the Adani Group. In 1995, the company went on to acquire the managerial outsourcing of Mundra Port. Mundra Port, the first port of the group, is also the largest private sector port of the nation; it can manage nearly 210 million tons of cargo per year. On the other hand, the Group has also excelled in the power business and has turned to be the largest private thermal power producer of India. The company has also acquired Carmichael Coal in Queensland and Abbot Point Port in Australia.
As a result of witnessing tremendous growth, Gautam was involved in few political controversies. It was alleged that the NDA government is backing the Adani Group by waiving off 200 crore fine slapped on Adani Port & SEZ. Gautham later clarified that the fine was not waived, but the port is actually owned by the government and the Adani Group is just a contractor. It was also alleged that Adanis favor Narendra Modi, citing him travelling in group’s Chartered Planes for the election campaigning. Gautam clarified this allegation in his interview with CNBC, stating that the BJP has paid the market rate for their chartered planes.
After achieving the longed position, the giving back time has its turn. Gautam has never forgotten that and thus, he established Adani Foundation in 1996 and serves as its President. This foundation addresses the issues in Sustainable Livelihood Management, Education, Rural Infrastructure Management and Community Health.
On his business strategy Gautam comments, “Along with opportunities, there also exist many other tricky and complex issues to be managed in India. These include tackling both policy-level challenges and infrastructure challenges”.
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