BS Awards 2018: Winners show what's possible, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaking at the Business Standard Annual Awards 2018
Coffee exports from Araku Valley to high-end stores in Paris and the year’s best start-up have one thing in common. They exemplify corporate India’s leadership excellence, pointed out Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who expressed her appreciation for India’s corporate leadership while speaking at Business Standard’s Annual awards on Saturday.

“What stands out for me today is that it is possible for organisations to reach and stay at the top by way of good leadership and a belief in what you are doing,” she said.

She spoke about the range of businesses and their differing strategies that have helped secure success for the award winners. Evaluating companies often involves looking into whether they have adequately balanced their core competencies with growth in new areas.

“The one argument which is put forward is that are they sticking to their core business or are they diversifying too much? Have they spread themselves too thin and as a result of which are they exposing themselves and their shareholders to a different risk? But here we find companies that have ventured into several areas, and also companies which have stuck to their core business and made it big,” she said.

She gave the example of 3M India, which has grown with a focus on diversified scientific enterprise. Newer technologies have also helped scale enterprises in areas such as education through start-ups, including Start-up of the Year Byju’s. The scale that such companies have reached in a short span of time is remarkable, she pointed out.

“We may be talking about start-ups in the last few years. But I want to say, without any prejudice, with a great sense of appreciation that Byju’s is not a start-up anymore. Look at the reach! You can have 10 start-ups within your own. One for technology, one for reaching out, one for the pioneering work in education and so on,” she said.

She also spoke about how corporate leadership can transform communities, such as the Araku region in Andhra Pradesh. Anand Mahindra and others tied up with the local community to grow and export coffee from the region, which has had a positive impact on its people.

“Anand Mahindra has taken coffee from Araku Valley and made a big difference to the tribal population,” she said. She noted that it must have been a challenging task.

“Picking up products which are grown there against great odds -- that is not a traditional coffee community -- and then finding a market in the most upmarket neighbourhood of Paris.”

MatthewSpacie receiving the Business Standard Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
The awards help address all these issues, she suggested, bringing together excellence not just for the bottom line, but also for the community at large.  

BS Awards highlight the importance of core essential leadership, 360-degree performance and, above all, reaching excellence in your core domain,” she said. 

She noted that Maruti Suzuki has grown faster and become bigger than its parent, and lauded the work of social enterprises such as Pradan and Magic Bus. “Especially, under the category of social responsibility, each winner has made a difference to the communities in which they are working,” she said.

She pointed to the need for addressing India’s demographic dividend, as noted by Arundhati Bhattacharya, winner of the Banker of the Year award.  

The success stories of each of the winners can be a message to help inspire the younger generation, she suggested. Awards such as these are are good because they look beyond performance. “The Business Standard Awards,” she said, “other than recognising the size and performance under each category, also look at the purpose with which each of the winners have reached the top.”

She expressed hope that the awards given out at the end of the financial year would also help set the tone for the new one.

“Tomorrow onwards I can look forward to greater good news coming for the forthcoming new year,” she said.


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