‘Adjacency’! That is how Gautam Adani patiently explains the group’s rapidfire entry into the nearly two dozen businesses that appear totally unrelated to the outside world. From ports to airports; thermal, solar and wind power to cement; and edible oils and FMCG to city gas distribution.

“Adani group is nothing but India’s success story in infrastructure,” explains Gautam Adani in a 90-minute conversation sitting relaxed at the corner of a sofa on the 16th floor of Adani house, the group headquarters at Shantigram, its private township in Ahmedabad.

Adjacency along India’s infrastructure deficiency makes the ₹2.30 lakh crore group India’s biggest infra player: The biggest in ports, biggest in airports, India’s largest private power company; largest solar power company; largest in city gas distribution; largest in power transmission; and the biggest edible oil company; and now with Holcim, the second largest in cement.

The blinding expansion, a majority via acquisitions in two years of the pandemic, has catapulted the valuation of his stake in listed entities more than seven times from ₹1.4 lakh crore at the end of 2019 to ₹10.3 lakh crore on May 24, 2022. That makes the about to be 60 Gautam Adani the world’s fifth richest in just 34 years of the group’s existence.

But Adani’s ambition goes beyond this. He talks in small, well thought out sentences, assimilating thoughts into simple one-liners, as he goes about explaining another audacious bet — a $70 billion investment into fully backward integrated green energy capacity and infrastructure. “Today climate change is one of the biggest challenges. Those challenges also open up huge business opportunities. The opportunity in this case is energy transition, the transition from fossil fuels to renewables and to hydrogen. What the world has seen in the last 100 years of energy forms is set to change in the next 10-20 years,” says Adani.

Our cover story this issue is a peek into the mind of the one man whose ambition keeps growing bigger with each new milestone. Whom the whole corporate world is trying to decipher. Importantly, the big challenges before the first-generation group, including the ballooning debt, assimilation of massive acquisitions, entry into new businesses and transitioning of old businesses — all happening at the same time.

Our special issue this month is ‘Employers Of The Future’ — a unique study conducted with our partners Work Universe to identify some of the best practices among organisations who are on a mission to ready themselves for the future needs of their employees.

Our special gratitude to an eminent board of the ‘Employers Of The Future’, whose decades of HR experience guided us all along to form the bedrock of this study: Anand Kripalu, MD and global CEO, EPL; Deep Kalra, founder and group executive chairman, MakeMyTrip; Radha Ahluwalia, general partner, Work Universe; Rajeev Dubey, former group president, HR & corporate services, CEO, after-market sector & member of the group executive board, Mahindra & Mahindra; Rajkamal Vempati, head of human resources, Axis Bank; Santrupt Misra, director, group HR, Aditya Birla Group; Suresh Narayanan, CMD, Nestle India.

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