With changing times, the boardrooms across India have seen several transformations. Especially so in family owned businesses. Usually, the seat of power is passed on from one male heir to another. The prominent business families of India are no longer barring their daughters from offices and taking up responsibilities. This pleasant gust of change is so desired. These women have taken the challenge to keep up the business head on, and are carving their own niche in the testosterone-laden environment.
Meet these ten daughters from prominent Indian business families, who are making their parents proud.
Tanya Dubash (Executive Director and Chief Brand Officer, Godrej Consumer Products)
D/o Adi Godrej and Parmeshwar Godrej, Godrej Group
Tanya (49), the elder amongst the two daughters of Adi and Parmeshwar Godrej, holds an A.B. Cum Laude degree in economics and political science from Brown University. She is also an alumna of The Cathedral & John Connon School and Harvard Business School.
Currently, she is on the Boards of Godrej Industries Limited, Godrej Consumer Products Limited, Godrej Agrovet Limited and is the Chairperson of Godrej Nature’s Basket. She is also a board member of the Bhartiya Mahila Bank and a Trustee of Brown University.
Dubash once said that had she not been a part of Godrej, she would have probably been a teacher or a counsellor. Apart from spending time with her husband, Arvind and her kids, Aryan and Azaar, and watching films, Tanya loves to read. What the Dog Saw, Man’s Search for Meaning and Eat Pray and Love are her favourites.
She was recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2007.
Vinita Gupta (Chief Executive Officer, Lupin Limited)
D/o Desh Bandhu Gupta and Manju Gupta, Lupin Limited
The eldest daughter of Desh Bandhu and Manju Gupta has a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from the University of Mumbai, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, US.
Currently Vinita (48) is based with her husband and son in Maryland, USA, however, her job requires her to travel a lot. Yet Vinita is very particular, when it comes to work-life balance, making sure her son Krish gets all the attention he needs.
She says ‘‘There has been a major change over the last 10 years, with the acceptance of more women in leadership positions in India…. This is a very positive change for women at a time when they are increasingly making their careers an important part of their work-life balance.”
Priti Sureka, (Head of Marketing, Emami Group)
D/o R.S. Agarwal and Usha Bansal, Emami Group
The only woman director on the sixteen-member board at the Emami Group, Priti (45) had a keen interest in business since childhood. She formally joined her father’s business when she was in Class XI. Now she is also involved in strategy, R&D and innovation.
Priti has been instrumental in expanding the brand connect of some of Emami’s key products including Fair & Handsome, Boroplus, Himani Fast Relief, and the Sona Chandi Chyawanprash by roping in celebrities as brand ambassadors.
Priti credits Raj, her husband of nineteen years, for helping her get back to work after marriage and motherhood. They have two children, a son and a daughter. She has made sure to instil gender equality in both her children. According to her women are as good as leaders as men, if not better.
Meher Pudumjee (Chairperson, Thermax Ltd)
D/o Rohinton and Anu Aga, Thermax Ltd.
Pudumjee (42) holds a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College of Science & Technology, London. Meher’s rise in Thermax was not easy, as she tragically lost her father and brother in a span of a year. Since then the mother-daughter duo has been pillars of strength to each other, and have helped each other shoulder the responsibility of Thermax Ltd.
Meher is also deeply committed to social issues and is involved in Teach for India.
The best advice Meher has received from her mother?
“An apple tree cannot give oranges — Do your best and do not try to be like anyone else.”
Meher thinks she is a better mother because she is working. Her children have become more independent as a result, and the time they spend together is more productive. She doesn’t feel the guilt that some other working mothers tend to feel.
Nisaba Godrej (Chairperson of Godrej Consumer Products)
D/o Adi Godrej and Parmeshwar Godrej, Godrej Group
Nisaba (39) joined Godrej Consumer Product limited in 2007, after completing her MBA from Harvard Business School. She took over from her father as the Executive Chairman of GCPL last year in May.
She has launched products such as Good Knight Fast Card and Anti-Roach Gel. The company also invested in a salon brand B-Blunt and launched a range of products under that brand name.
The cause of Girl child education is very close to her heart. She supports Dasra, a non-profit organisation in Mumbai, and is an active board member of Teach for India and drives the Group’s CSR initiatives.
Nisaba lives in Mumbai with her husband Kalpesh Mehta, and son Zoran. Along with business, she is passionate about design, trekking, equestrian, and water sports.
Nandini Piramal (Executive Director, Piramal Enterprises)
D/o Ajay and Dr Swati Piramal, Piramal Enterprises
Nandini (37) graduated from the Oxford University, and completed her MBA from Stanford University. Her devotion to humanitarian works stems from the grounded upbringing, she received from her parents. Every Saturday, the family would go and listen to a monk.
Deeply involved in philanthropic work Nandini gives her time to the Piramal Foundation Education Leadership programs, Piramal Sarvajal and Piramal Swasthya, along with her husband Peter D’Young. Her Sarvajal project seeks to provide affordable and accessible pure water to all.
Roshni Nadar Malhotra (Executive Director and the CEO, HCL Enterprise)
D/o Shiv Nadar, and Kiran Nadar, HCL Enterprise
Roshni is the only child of HCL founder and a trained classical musician. Roshni (35) graduated from Northwestern University, majoring in Communication with a focus on Radio/TV/Film. She also graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration, having a focus on Social Enterprise Management and Strategy, from the Kellogg School of Management.
Nadar had been serving as the trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation, which runs the not-for-profit Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering in Chennai. Roshni personally spent a significant amount of time launching the VidyaGyan initiative in 2009, which provides free education to students from underprivileged backgrounds.
She and her husband Shikhar Malhotra are the doting mother of two little boys.
Ashni Biyani (Head of Future Ideas, Future Group)
D/o Kishore Biyani, and Sangita Rathi, Future Group
Ashni (32) graduated as a textile designer and has attended courses on scenario planning at New York’s Parsons School of Design and the Summer Institute of General Management at Graduate School of Business, Stanford.
Ashni is the first woman in the Biyani family to enter the business. She and her husband Viraj Didwania are proud parents of a girl. A good singer herself, she loves to listen to classical music in the company of her husband and daughter.
Tara Singh Vachani (MD Antara Senior Living)
D/o Analjit and Neelu Singh, Max India
Tara Singh Vachani (30) runs Antara Senior Living which caters to the well-heeled, well-travelled, 55-and-older Indian. Vachani studied Politics and South Asian studies, at the National University of Singapore. In 2008 Tara joined the group. Further in 2016, she was appointed to The Max India Board. She is the youngest to hold that position and the only Singh offspring to have such a seat. Instead of taking over the reins of some part of the family business, Tara chose to launch her own venture.
She is married to Sahil Vachani and lives in Delhi. However, in her free time, she likes to engage herself in theatre and cinema, reading and playing with her dogs. Most of all, she loves spending time with close family and friends.
Isha Ambani (Director at Reliance Jio Infocomm and Reliance Retail)
D/o Mukesh Ambani and Nita Ambani, Reliance Industries
After receiving an undergraduate degree in Psychology and South Asian studies from Yale University, Ambani (26) worked as a business analyst with the management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. Isha got inducted into the boards of directors at Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail in 2014.
Isha loves playing the Piano, and also has got professional training for it.
Ananyashree Birla (Founder Svatantra Microfinance)
D/o Kumar Mangalam Birla and Neerja Birla, Aditya Birla group
Despite studying economics and management at the University of Oxford, Ananyashree’s (23) heart belongs to music. At the age of seventeen she set up her venture, Svatantra Microfin Pvt. Ltd. to lend tiny loans to rural women for buying sewing machines or starting their papadum businesses. Ananya is also the founder of CuroCarte and co-founder of Mpower.
In 2016, Birla signed with Universal Music India and released her debut single ‘Livin The Life’. In her free time, Ananya immerses herself in music, both western and Indian classical. She plays the guitar and also the santoor. She loves poetry and often expresses herself by composing her own music.
Dr Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.