Dhirubhai Ambani

Life

¨Born 28 December, 1932
¨True “rags to riches” story
¨Small time worker with Arab merchants in 1950
¨Moved to Bombay in 1958 to start his own spices business
¨Forayed into textiles and started Reliance
¨Died on 6th July 2002 due to heart attack
¨Son of a low-wage village teacher
¨Wanted to get his bachelor’s degree but was sent to Aden (second busiest oil trading port) to earn for family
¨Did commodities trading and then petroleum
¨Wanted to speculate but had no money. Worked for free for a trading firm to learn the secrets.
¨Mastered English grammar, essay writing, and read a lot throughout his day
¨Came to Gujarat in 1954 to marry during that time his firm acquired the distribution of newly opened Shell refinery at Aden
¨DA was promoted and sent to oil filling station where he serviced ships, made friends and dreamed of opening up a refinery
¨By the late 1950s the British rule in Yemen began to collapse and Indians started returning home or going to London. DA at 26 yrs, married and blessed with a son, felt that India was calling home
Entrepreneurship
¨Started “Majin” in partnership with his cousin, with $300
¨Imported polyester yarn and export spices to Yemen
¨First office of Reliance Commercial Corp. was set up – 350 sq. ft room with a telephone, one table and three chairs
¨Partnership ended in 1965 due to differences – DA was a risk taker and believed in building inventories, anticipating price rise and making profits while his cousin was the opposite
¨In 1968 moved to upmarket apartment in South Mumbai. By then his net worth was close to $200,000
¨Started the first textile mill in Naroda, Gujrat in 1966 with the help of a chartered accountant from Delhi
¨“Vimal” was a household brand by 1970s due to huge marketing. In 1975 the World Bank visited Reliance and certified it as “excellent by developed country standards”
¨In 1977 launched IPO and convinced rural people to invest. By early 1980s his net worth was $200 million
¨Control over stock exchange
¨1990s entered into petrochemicals and telecommunications
Leadership traits

¨A learner – believed that for success you need to know everything about the subject
¨Opportunistic and spiritual
¨Pioneer/first to do anything
¨Did not mind copying ideas and turning into profit
¨Never had an ego problem, got work done from people
¨Expert in marketing and operations as well
Believed in luck and destiny
Criticism

¨Manipulated shares by setting up dummy companies
¨Sponsored both sides of the political spectrum
¨Almost payed zero taxes
¨Flexible values and unethical behavior
Legacy

¨Dhirubhai Ambani Scholarship at Wharton School of Business
¨Dhirubhai Ambani hosptial at Mumbai
¨Critically acclaimed movie “Guru” based on his life
¨Quoted once in an interview – “More than anything else I learnt that nothing big can ever be achieved without money, influence and power and I also learnt that money, influence and power alone cannot achieve anything in life, big or small, without a certain soft, delicate, sensitive, understanding human touch in all one’s deeds and words.”
¨”Dhirubhai will go one day. But Reliance’s employees and shareholders will keep it afloat. Reliance is now a concept in which the Ambanis have become irrelevant.”
¨”A vision has to be within reach not in the air. It has to be achievable.”