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Karan Adani, 

CEO, Adani Ports & SEZ
age: 35
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WHEN KARAN ADANI joined Adani Ports & SEZ (APSEZ) in 2009 after graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, the ports company had a revenue of ₹1,135 crore. Its single port at Mundra with four terminals was handling 35.72 million tonnes (MT) of cargo. By the time he became CEO in 2016, APSEZ’s revenue had grown to ₹7,941 crore, with 152 MT of cargo, 10 ports and 42 berths.
Today APSEZ is the largest integrated transport utility in India, and has 13 ports, 15,000 hectares of industrial land, over 8 lakh square feet of warehouses and 9 logistics parks. In the first nine months of FY23, revenue grew 16% YoY to ₹15,055 crore, while cargo volumes increased from 247 MT to 312 MT.
Karan aims for 500 MT by 2025. “We believe the next two decades will be transformative for infrastructure. In that space, we would like to continue to play a humble part, especially by enhancing port capacity and bringing down logistics costs,” he says.
“Our vision is not only to become the world’s largest port operator, but also carbon positive by the end of this decade,” he adds.
Continuous operational focus using technology and mechanisation is critical to growth. “We raise operational benchmarks to global standards, so that we are able to reduce logistics costs and improve efficiency,” says Karan. The other two success mantras are bringing in more digital-savvy talent and transition to a ‘transport utility’ model.
At the group level, Karan is also in charge of the cement business. Last year, Adani Group became the country’s second-largest cement maker by acquiring Holcim’s stake in Ambuja Cement and its subsidiary ACC for $10.5 billion. “Cement is a game of economics dependent on energy, logistics and distribution costs. Each one of these capabilities is a core business of ours and therefore provides us a set of unmatched adjacencies,” says Karan, chairman of ACC. In cement, too, Karan is building scale and cost optimisation. “We will double our capacity to 140 MT over the next five years,” he says.
Karan has also been a key decision-maker in acquisitions like the Mumbai International Airport from the GVK Group and Kattupalli port from L&T. He is married to lawyer Paridhi Shroff, daughter of Cyril Shroff, managing partner of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. They have a daughter, Anuradha Karan Adani.