Business Standard Annual Awards 2018: Toasting the spirit of success

JSW Group's Sajjan Jindal receiving Business Standard CEO of the Year award from Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar)
The Business Standard Annual Awards for Corporate Excellence, held on Saturday evening, toasted the indomitable spirit of Indian entrepreneurship that was ready to fight all odds. The Crystal Room at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, filled to capacity with familiar faces and famous names, witnessed much cheer when Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the chief guest at the function, lauded Corporate India for going beyond business and making a difference in the lives of marginalised people such as the Araku tribals of Andhra Pradesh by giving them an opportunity. “Each one of you has done excellent work in corporate social responsibility (CSR), especially in the communities you work,” she said.

Banker of the Year, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Former chairman, SBI | Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar
Czars of the corporate world trooped in early to catch up with their peers and the camaraderie was infectious even among rivals, as they took time to exchange notes and share insights in a relaxed environment. Many had cancelled their long weekend plans to make it to the event.

Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju’s app, with Business Standard Start-up of the Year award in Mumbai (Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar)
The minister, who stood out in her orange sari amid a sea of black suits, also had some words of encouragement for newcomers into the business world like Byju’s, which won the Start-up of the Year award. “We may be talking about start-ups in the last few years, but I want to say, without any prejudice, and with a great sense of appreciation, that Byju’s is not a start-up anymore. Look at its 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.

Star PSU, BPCL, D Rajkumar, CMD | Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar
The tone of the evening was set by Maruti Suzuki Chairman R C Bhargava, who was also the chairman of the distinguished jury to select the best in India Inc. “The BS awards are prestigious. They are purely based on the statistics provided by the BS Research Bureau for the last financial year. I wanted to opt out as jury chairman, as Maruti Suzuki was shortlisted in three categories, but I was not allowed. We looked at the data provided to us to pick the winners who led from the front,” he said.

Star MNC, 3M India, Debarati Sen, MD | Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar
The best example of that spirit was JSW Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sajjan Jindal, who won the CEO of the Year award. Jindal said he had prepared an acceptance speech as “no one had given me an award before”. 

(From left) Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra & Mahindra and Rajeev Dubey, President (HR, After-Market and Corporate Services) with Business Standard Socially Aware Corporate of the Year award in Mumbai (Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar)
“My strength is the work ethic we have cultivated at JSW. We have built a company where all of us relentlessly and collectively pursue the goal of excellence. I receive this award on behalf of all my 50,000 employees who think of JSW as their very own company. This award is a recognition of their belief in my stewardship. Our great nation deserves great infrastructure and we are here to help develop it,” Jindal promised, amid thunderous applause from the gathering.

“To all my young friends who are listening to me as I accept this award, I would like to say one thing – pursue your ideas with passion, strengthen them with faith; translate them with determination, and dedication. No one will have the strength to snatch success away from you,” Jindal said.

Social Enterprise of the Year, Pradan, D Narendranath, executive director | Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar
Jindal, 58, is turning out to be a beacon of entrepreneurship for the rest of Corporate India, at a time when the entire economy was going through a slowdown. With a vision on the future of India’s steel industry, Jindal’s JSW Steel has emerged the No. 1 player in the Indian steel industry, with a capacity of 18 million tonnes per annum. Jindal is now eyeing a similar high-octane growth in the cement sector, where it plans to double its capacity via acquisitions. The hard work of Jindal and his team was appreciated by the jury during its deliberations a month before.

The response of the other winners captured the spirit of the evening: The leading lights of the business world walked away with glittering trophies, thanking their respective companies, colleagues, customers, and families for helping to the top of the podium. Maruti Suzuki’s Managing Director (MD) Kenichi Ayukawa thanked the entire Maruti team for making the company India’s biggest automobile company and even bigger than its Japanese parent, Suzuki. “Tomorrow (April 1) is the new (fiscal) year. I wish there will be sound development for India and the industry,” said Ayukawa.

Other award winners did themselves proud with the quality of their acceptance speeches. “The best performing businesses will be socially aware businesses,” said Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra & Mahindra, which won the Socially Aware Corporate of the Year award. “There has been a major change in the perspective of business people globally. I am hoping the best performing businesses will be socially aware businesses,” he said.

Maruti Suzuki’s Managing Director Kenichi Ayukawa with Business Standard Company of the Year award in Mumbai (Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar)
While acknowledging Corporate India’s efforts in CSR, Sitharaman highlighted Mahindra’s support in helping the Araku community grow coffee, which is now being sold in Paris. The Business Standard CSR awards were selected by a jury headed by S Ramadorai, chairman, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Arundhati Bhattacharya, former chairman of State Bank of India (SBI) and winner of Banker of the Year award, thanked the 270,000 staff of SBI and her family. “Today, we are here enjoying a nice evening. But all my colleagues are at their desks completing the year-end exercise and working till 2 am. I am truly honoured by this award. I would like to acknowledge the 270,000 SBI workers and my family for this honour,” said Bhattacharya.  The Banker of the Year award was chosen by a separate jury led by C M Vasudev.

Bhattacharya said India should reap the benefits of demographic dividend available for the next 20 years to emerge as a developed country. “When we look at the negatives, we often forget the positives. Today, we have the best ports, roads, and core industries. None of them would have been possible if the bankers had not lent them,” Bhattacharya said. 

Star SME, Sheela Foam, Rahul Gautam, CMD | Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar
Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) won the Star PSU of the Year award. “We are honoured and privileged to receive this award,” said D Rajkumar, chairman and MD of BPCL, promising to do even better in the fiscal year ended March 2018.

Education technology player Byju’s was given the Start-Up of the Year.  “We have not even reached out to 5% of the schoolgoing population of India; there is a long way to go,” said 37-year-old Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju’s app, which teaches basic mathematics and science to school students. 

Among the listed multinationals (MNCs), 3M India bagged the Star MNC of the Year award. “This is truly the Oscars of the business world,” said Debarati Sen, MD of 3M India.   

The BS awards also acknowledged the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are helping in nation-building. Sheela Foam was declared the Star SME of the Year. “We are committed to tirelessly working towards making sure every Indian sleeps well,” said Rahul Gautam, chairman and MD of Sheela Foam, the maker of Sleepwell mattresses. 

Matthew Spacie, founder of Magic Bus, with Business Standard Social Entrepreneur of the Year award in Mumbai (Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar)
The Social Entrepreneur of the Year award was won by Matthew Spacie, a former rugby player and founder of Magic Bus, an organisation he set up two decades ago with a small fund, largely put together with his own contribution and that of his friends. Today, Magic Bus impacts 400,000 children in 69 districts across 21 states in India. “When we started, our team played rugby with endorsement from sari company Garden Vareli on their T-shirts! Today, many companies have come forward to help our programmes. We expect more companies to join us in the coming years,” said Spacie.

The Social Enterprise of the Year award went to Pradan because of the extent of its reach in terms of programmes under way and the wide and deep network of non-governmental organisations and social entrepreneurs it has built. “It is great to be recognised by Business Standard. Maybe there can be further efforts made to highlight some other great work being done in remote areas,” said D Narendranath, executive director, Pradan.  

“This year, the names we chose were a mix of known organisations that have outperformed peers consistently for many years as also new companies that have done well in recent years but are still to be recognised. My compliments to these champions of India Inc,” said EY India Chairman Rajiv Memani. 

Other jury members included Boston Consulting Group Asia-Pacific Chairman Janmejaya Sinha, former SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, Marico Chairman Harsh Mariwala, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas Managing Partner Cyril Shroff, and Bain Capital Private Equity MD Amit Chandra. 

Apart from the award winners, the business world was represented by the Who’s Who of India Inc such as Great Eastern Shipping Chairman K M Sheth, Asian Paints Vice-Chairman Ashwin Dani, Parle Agro Chairman Prakash Chauhan, and Vodafone India MD & CEO Sunil Sood. Ace investment banker and founder of Arpwood Capital Rajeev Gupta, Standard Chartered India CEO Zarin Daruwala, and BSE CEO and MD Ashishkumar Chauhan came from the world of finance. Legal luminaries Bahram Vakil of AZB & Partners graced the awards function too.

Minister Speak

Illustration: Ajay Mohanty

On Business Standard awards


Business Standard is doing a big service to India Inc by providing this kind of a support for two things: Meritorious performance and maintain the standard, year after year, to keep the process dynamic.


Business Standard has added social responsibility portfolio to this whole set of awards which you are giving. This is a wonderful attempt to recognise high-quality work, high-quality achievers and institutions which are making a difference to so many lives


On leadership and business


In this country it is possible to reach the top and stay there by good leadership and belief in what you are doing.


It was nice to notice it here that Maruti Suzuki is bigger than its parent company, both in volume and in size. These are the kind of things that throw light on the possibilities in this country.


The award winners, in each case, demonstrate core essential leadership, 360-degree performance and above all excellence in their domain.


The kind of fields that entrepreneurs are entering and the manner in which they turn themselves into some of the biggest achievers in their chosen areas is remarkable.


On social responsibility


The performance of each one of you stands out. And especially under the category of social responsibility, each one of you have made so much of a difference to the communities where you are working.


Imagine the impact that (socially responsible enterprises) can have on people. They’re not just selling a product, but having an impact on a community and their confidence in how they deal with the world, which will hold even in coming generations of that community in good stead.


Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel