Adi Burjorji Godrej – an Indian Billionaire Industrialist and Businessman

Published: 2021-09-14 20:30:09
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Adi Burjorji Godrej, born on 3 April 1942 is an Indian industrialist and businessman. He completed his MBA from the Sloan School of Management, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then joined the business alongside his father Burjorji Godrej. He chairs the 120-year-old Godrej Group, a $4.6 billion consumer-goods conglomerate. He also oversees Godrej Consumer Products. Adi Godrej took the Godrej Group to great heights during the License Raj. Under his stewardship, Godrej Consumer Products has grown into a strong emerging market FMCG player based on a 3X3 approach to international expansion — building a presence in 3 emerging markets (Asia, Africa, Latin America) across 3 categories (home care, personal wash, hair care). Adi’s innate intelligence is at the core of Godrej’s long years of success as an entrepreneur. Since joining the 120-year-old family business in 1963, Godrej has helped it transition through a closed, socialist economy into a free-market one. The 75-year-old chairman of the Godrej Group expanded the conglomerate’s size and scope in terms of new businesses and geographical reach. He also ensured that the extended family remained together and is committed to the higher purpose of creating value for all stakeholders. Adi Godrej also fostered an environment conducive for external talent to work shoulder-to-shoulder with family professionals and made sure that the group stayed true to its credo of being ‘good and green’ even as it pursued profits. Godrej’s entrepreneurial achievements alone does not define him, he is a thorough gentleman with impeccable ethical standards. According to his family, friends and other business leaders, Adi is a role model in the truest sense. Under the leadership of Adi Godrej, the Godrej Group made sure that it imbibed the best practices by analyzing the competitors and the market requirements.
The Godrej Group was already diversified when Godrej joined the business. It was making everything from locks and safes to wardrobes and soaps. But it was still a relatively small entity with a turnover of around 10 crore, nowhere close to being the $5 billion conglomerate (around 32,000 crore by turnover) that it is at present. He modernized the management structure and implemented process improvements. Adi Godrej boosted the presence of Godrej group in Africa with the acquisition of 3 personal-care companies in Zambia, Senegal and Kenya. Adi Godrej likes challenges and has always stepped up whenever faced with any difficult situation. When he joined Godrej group alongside his father the group had two companies at that time — Godrej Soaps and Godrej & Boyce (manufacturing furniture, safes and locks, among other products), the young Godrej decided to join Godrej Soaps, a company that was incurring losses at that time. He immediately put his global education to good use by ushering in a slew of process improvements to turn the company around. He said “I brought in my management thinking, cut costs, and introduced practices such as cost accounting and human resources management. Gradually, I hired a lot of management graduates and restructured the organization to make it more efficient and marketing-oriented. Everyone was given a clear goalpost and the work culture. Adi Godrej was a businessman who had a clear purpose and objective. He had his goal cleared which he could communicate effectively to his employees. His management techniques were goal oriented and well defined. The objectives were pursued till they were achieved. Godrej group had become an epitome of knowledge and excellence. GCPL is a market leader in many countries around the world, including India, in categories like hair care and household insecticides. In establishing this position of market dominance, especially in the hair colour space, it has taken on the might of L’oreal which was dominated in every part of the world except India. Godrej had made a strong mark in the country and had developed a sense of indigenousness.
While GCPL continued to grow from strength to strength, the conglomerate also made a strategic decision to diversify into adjacent areas like vegetable oil, palm oil plantations, chemicals and animal feed (that have a linkage with its soaps business). What is remarkable is that despite being in business for over a century and across various businesses, both Godrej and the group the helms have been drama-free. There was not a single issue in making some key strategic decision in the organization. There was a culture of trust, respect, integrity and mutual consent which was imbibed by each and every employee of the company. Also noteworthy is his ability to manage the expectations of a diverse set of stakeholders whose fortunes are linked to that of the business his family has pioneered.
With him as the patriarch, members of the Godrej family have well-defined roles of ownership and management. The family is clear that only those members who are qualified to run the business will be allowed to do so. There is also the family council where all those who are shareholders and above 18 years of age are invited for periodic discussions. They put forth to them the developments at the group and take their views on matters. This is a good way of discussing and arriving at common objectives. If there are differences of opinion there was a meeting.
Even the family members who are a part of the business are strategically placed in positions that require collaboration across diverse arms of the group, and where the family’s interest needs to represent at the board level. Most large group companies have a managing director from outside the family to oversee day-to-day management. Apart from this culture of democracy, a focus on conducting business in a ‘good and green’ way is also a major attraction that draws employees and business partners.

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