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Top 10 India's Most Powerful CEO's 2012 - And their Biographies

The Economic Times, in partnership with IMRB International, has been conducting comprehensive surveys to ascertain the 'Most Powerful CEOs' of India, for the past few years. The survey has endeavored to identify the business leaders who are well-recognized by people for their efforts in shaping Corporate India. 


Here is the list of Powerful CEO's in India.

Rank 1: Ratan Naval Tata : Chairman, Tata Sons 

Also known as: India's 'most eligible bachelor', even at 75.

Theatre of Operations:
IT, Communications, Engineering, Materials, Chemicals, Services, Consumer Products, Energy - all with global footprints

Did you know that: Upon graduating, he turned down an offer from IBM on the advice of JRD Tata

Started his career with: Tata Steel, on the shop floor

Leadership style: Aloof and understated, but always on the ball

Favourite Allies: His German Shepherds

Famous Quote: "I don't believe in taking right decisions. I take decisions and then make them right"

Thorn in his side: His connection with the 2G spectrum scam

If he weren't leading a $71 billion conglomerate, he'd be: Flying planes

Family: Brother Jimmy, half-brother Noel and three half-sisters

Latest project: Pouring $15 million into a project researching water as fuel

Exit Strategy: Cyrus Pallonji Mistry will take charge from December 2012

Farewell Note: This will be RNT's last appearance on CD's 'Most Powerful CEO' list

Rank 2: Mukesh Ambani : Chairman & MD, Reliance Industries

Theatre of Operations: Petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles and retail

Bragging rights: The second-richest man in Asia, he heads the largest Indian private sector conglomerate. Also, owner of the second-richest sports club in the world (Mumbai Indians), according to Forbes

It's in his genes:
Thinks scale, like his father, the late Dhirubhai Ambani

Started his career with: Reliance Industries (RIL)

Leadership style: Relationship-based, entrepreneurial

Family: Husband to Nita, father to Akash, Anant and Isha

Famous Quote: "The organizational architecture is really that a centipede walks on hundred legs and one or two don't count. So if I lose one or two legs, the process will go on, the organization will go on, the growth will go on.

Thorn In His Side:
Several big-ticket RIL proposals are stuck at the petroleum ministry helmed by S Jaipal Reddy

Cool Friend: Anand Jain

Big indulgence: Antilia, the $2billion home he's built on Altamount Road, Mumbai

Rank 3: K M Birla : Chairman, Aditya Birla Group


Theatre of Operations:
At 43, the Chairman of the $35 billion Aditya Birla Group, has his hands full with a business that traverses almost every sector from retail to financial services and brands such as Hindalco, Ultratech Cement and Idea Cellular in his quiver

First Steps: Scion of the Birla family, he took over as Chairman of the group after the sudden demise of his father, Aditya Birla, in 1995

Bugbear: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) recommendations on the auction of 2G radio waves. He holds that at the base price recommended by TRAI, it did not make sense for anyone to participate in the bids

Bragging Rights:
At 28, he became the youngest Indian to chair a multi-billion dollar conglomerate and has successfully steered the highly diversified AV Birla ship through thick and thin

Power Buddies:
Ratan Tata, Sanjeev Goenka

Famous Quote: "Tough times don't last, tough people do"

Preferred Gulp: Diet Coke

Little Known Fact: He learnt how to shoot with a rifle three years ago and is now shooting with the camera

When not working:
Family and movies

Rank 4: Azim Premji : Chairman, Wipro 

Started his career with:
Wipro, whose reins he took after dropping out of Stanford at 21, following the sudden demise of his father (he completed his degree over 30 years later). At that time, Wipro made hydrogenated cooking fat.

Famous quote: "As you get bigger, you have to delegate. It's also an excellent way to get staff involved in the company's operations. "

Big bet that didn't pay: Three years after appointing two CEOs to navigate Wipro, the duo was suddenly removed and replaced.

Bet that might pay: All recent announcements are headlined by his son and chief strategy officer Rishad Premji, signaling a possible powershift

Icon: JRD Tata

Act of do-goodery: Transferred 8.6% of his stake in the company worth about Rs 8,646 crore to the Azim Premji Foundation. This is the biggest act of individual philanthropy in India

Leadership style: Knows every small detail of his businesses, but does not interfere with everyday operations of the various independent business heads

Family ties: Husband to Yasmeen, father to Rishad and Tariq

Bugbear: The blatant rise in corruption in India. Premji was a signatory to an open letter to Indian leaders questioning the current state of affairs

Little known fact:
Wipro is the second-largest hydraulic cylinder company in the world

When not working: Enjoys trekking and loves watching movies; he often turns to his senior executives for recommendations

Recent Accolade:
Was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2011

Rank 5: Chanda Kochhar : MD & CEO, ICICI Bank 

Started her career with:
ICICI Bank, straight out of B-school

Bragging Rights: A regular fixture on Global 'Most Powerful Women' lists since 2005

HDFC overtaking ICICI as the valued private bank in India

Accolade: Conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2010

Leadership Style: Meticulous, demands excellence

Famous Quote: "Demands do not go up or down - they are constantly there. Often, you feel you are doing too much."

As a child: Wanted to be an IAS Officer

Little known fact: Used to read the Satyanarayan Katha everyday. Now reads it fortnightly because of time constraints.

Stress-buster: The latest Hindi movies with the family.

Family ties: Husband Deepak, children Aarti and Arjun

Rank 6: Deepak Parekh : Chairman, HDFC 

Theatre of Operations:
India's leading home finance company

First Job: Ernst & Young, New York

Accolade: Padma Bhushan awardee in 2006

Bugbear: The delayed infrastructure development in the country

Personal Icons: Warren Buffet, Peter Drucker

Activism: Has been a vocal critic of the government, writing two open letters on the governance deficit and policy paralysis in the past year itself

Famous Quote:
"You can't manufacture culture. Culture builds in an organisation over a period of time. And the tone at the top must be integrity and value systems."

Bitten By:
Chocolate-covered biscuits

Stress-buster: Hindi music, bridge and Wimbledon

Little known fact:
Hosts one of Mumbai's best-attended Christmas brunches

Rank 7: AM Naik : Chairman & Managing Director, Larsen & Toubro

Theatre of Operations:
A $11billion engineering and construction powerhouse that covers everything from nuclear power to switch-gears

First Job:
Nestor Boilers

Role model:
His father, a freedom fighter and schoolteacher

Leadership Style: Works hard and expects everyone else to do so. Will not tolerate mediocrity

Big Transition:
Steps away from active management to overseeing long-term strategic initiatives

Meritocracy over seniority

Diplomatic Coup: Honorary Consul General for Denmark

Workaholic: Never took a day off for the first 21 years of his career

Life outside L&T: Expanding his old school in Kharel, Gujarat. Been appointed director of IIM-A

Hidden talent: Is a skilled artist

Famous Quote: "L&T is my hobby, the rest is work."

Guilty pleasure: Desserts

Rank 8: Anand Mahindra : Vice Chairman & MD, Mahindra Group 

Theatre of Operations:
A $12.5 billion conglomerate spanning auto, IT and timeshare resorts

First Love:
Mahindra majored in films and photography before getting his MBA from Harvard

Bragging Rights: Turning around the scam-hit Satyam Computers after acquiring it three years ago

Rocky Road: The company has had a less than successful track record with joint ventures over the years

Culturally Connect: Behind India's first Blues Festival and actively promotes theatre and sports as well

Famous Quote: There is a degree of freedom that creates aspiration

Social Connect: One of India Inc's most active CEOs on Twitter, with close to 5 lakh followers

Notable Firsts: Mahindra Racing is the first Indian team to participate in the MotoGP

Most likely to be seen: Training for the Mumbai marathon or indulging in his new hobby, sailing

Rank 9: Adi Godrej : Chairman, Godrej Group 

Theatre of Operations: Has a footprint in almost all emerging economies

Green Thumb: Developed a green business campus in Vikhroli, Mumbai covering 150 acres of mangroves. Set up the Soonabai Pirojsha Godrej Marine Ecology Center

Cool Toys:
A 60-foot Ferretti yacht

Travel bug: Has been to over 70 countries and will try and fit in extensive sightseeing even if he's on a work trip

On weekends: Can be seen jet skiing or indulging in water sports with his grandchildren

Powerful Friends:
Anil Ambani

Act of do-goodery:
Key supporter of the World Wildlife Fund in India; also involved with several philanthropic activities

The snail's pace at which reforms are progressing. Hopes to bring about some change as CII President this year

On CSR: "It is giving back to society and helping society get better so that your business ultimately flourishes even better in the long term."

Family Ties: Wife Parmeshwar, children Tanya, Nisa and Pirojsha, two grandkids

Rank 10: K V Kamath : Chairman, Infosys Ltd. 

Theatre of Operations:
KV Kamath wears many hats - Chairman of Infosys, the second-largest IT services company in India; non-executive Chairman of ICICI Bank, India's largest private bank where he served as MD and CEO from 1996 to 2009; also, independent director of Houston-based oil services company Schlumberger 

Started his career with:
In 1971 with ICICI in the Project Finance division and moved on to different departments to gather rich and varied experience, which included setting up of new businesses, such as leasing, venture capital, credit rating as well as handling general management positions

For several quarters in a row, Infosys' sequential sales and operating profit growth have lagged its rivals, including Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant and HCL Technologies

Bragging Rights:
In less than ten years, KV Kamath has built so much trust around ICICI Bank that a large number of respondents in sundry banking-related surveys mistake it for a public sector undertaking. Besides, KVK is known as a mentor par excellence having groomed the likes of the current MD & CEO of ICICI Bank Chanda Kocchar, MD & CEO of Axis Bank Shikha Sharma, CEO of JP Morgan India Kalpana Morparia, MD of Future Capital V Vaidyanathan and a host of others

Power Buddies:
Mukesh Ambani, NR Narayana Murty

Famous Quote:
"To build a successful business, you have to be able to pick entrepreneurs very early and get them embedded into the business. They need to go out into the ecosystem, demonstrate their abilities, nurture the business and build it up"

Family Ties: Husband to Rajalaxmi; father to son Ajay and daughter Ajnya; grandfather to Nandan K Pai and Lakshman K Pai

Preferred Gulp: The occasional single malt

Little Known Fact: He's a keen follower of Formula One

Accolade: Conferred with Padma Bhushan in 2008

Top 10 India's Most Powerful CEO's 2012 - And their Biographies Reviewed by All India Jobs on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 Rating: 5

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