Dhirubhai Ambani and Reliance- Leadership

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  • Topic: Dhirubhai Ambani, Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani
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  • Published : August 6, 2009
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Dhirubhai Ambani and Reliance
"Our dreams have to be bigger. Our ambition higher. Our commitment deeper. And our efforts greater. This is my dream for Reliance and for India." - Dhirubhai Ambani.
"The country has lost an iconic proof of what an ordinary Indian fired by the spirit of enterprise and driven by determination, can achieve in his own lifetime. Not only did Ambani build a large and diversified business conglomerate but also inspired many first generation entrepreneurs with his success." The Death of an Icon

The 6th of July 2002 was a black day in the Indian corporate history. The Founder and Chairman of the Reliance group of Industries (Reliance), Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani (Dhirubhai) died after a 13 day battle for survival. A perfect combination of entrepreneurship and leadership, Dhirubhai transformed Reliance from a company with a turnover of Rs 640 million in 1976, to one with a turnover of Rs 620 billion in 2002. Starting with a small textile mill in Naroda, in 1966, Dhirubhai took Reliance into various areas like petrochemicals, polyester filament yarn, oil and gas exploration and production, refining and marketing of petroleum, textiles, power, telecom services, information management and financial services (Refer Exhibit I for Reliance Group of Companies). [pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic]Dhirubhai never followed the textbook style of management. Instead, he evolved a unique style, which combined the American style of entrepreneurship, with the Japanese focus on the latest technology. And to this, he added the innate shrewdness of a Gujarati businessman. Analysts feel that he was a perfect manager of time, money and men and exhibited a passion to find solutions to problems. Dhirubhai started Reliance at a time when most companies in India were owned by the government, and the private players were given step-motherly treatment by the government while offering licenses and permits. Similarly, when most Indian business houses depended on government – owned financial institutions for funds, Dhirubhai raised capital from the public by offering shares of his companies. Building Reliance

Dhirubhai was born on December 28, 1932, to Hirachand Govardhandas Ambani and Jamunaben Hirachand Ambani. He was the middle of five children, three boys and two girls (Refer Exhibit II for the Dhirubhai family tree). His father was a local school teacher in a village called Chorwad in the Junagadh district of Gujarat. After his matriculation in 1949, Dhirubhai left for Aden, (now in Yemen) at the young age of 17. His first job was to fill gas and collect money at a Shell petrol station, earning Rs 300 a month. Within a few years, he rose to the position of a sales manager (Refer Exhibit III for Chronology of Events) in the same company. [pic][pic][pic][pic][pic][pic]After working for eight years in Aden, Dhirubhai decided to come back to India and start something on his own. On December 31, 1958, he came back to Mumbai and started the Reliance Commercial Corporation (RCC) with a borrowed capital of Rs.15,000. RCC was mainly involved in exporting commodities like ginger, cardamom, pepper, turmeric, and cashewnut. Using his connections in Aden, he exported a wide range of commodities to Aden.

Aden, being a free port attracted lot of exports. In the mid 1960s, the Government of India (GoI) introduced an export promotion scheme under which the earnings from the export of rayon fabrics could be used for the import of nylon fiber. This attracted Dhirubhai's attention and he decided to switch from spices to textiles. In 1966, he set up a spinning mill at Naroda 20 kms from Ahmedabad with borrowed funds of Rs 2,80,000 and registered it (Reliance Textile Industries) as a powerloom unit with a paid up capital of Rs 150,000. Another program, the High Unit Value Scheme introduced by the GoI in 1971 gave tremendous boost to Reliance textiles.

The scheme allowed the import of polyester filament yarn against the export of nylon fabrics....
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