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Multitasker At Reliance

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Nita Ambani, 

Director, Reliance Industries & Chairperson, Reliance Foundation
age: 59
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Nita Ambani, director of India’s largest company, the ₹7.93 lakh crore Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) and chairperson of Reliance Foundation, is the central thread connecting the family, the empire, and the succession architecture of flagship businesses. In the past year, she oversaw the making of the Jio Institute and the Jio World Centre (JWC) in Mumbai and spearheaded Reliance Foundation’s education and healthcare programmes, despite being caught up with marriages in the family and the birth of her first grandchild, not to forget the ongoing overseas expansion of the cricket business with the acquisition of a T20 team in South Africa.
But in the middle of all this, she has her biggest task cut out — implementing a succession plan. “She is the key consultant of her husband Mukesh Ambani in the matter of succession,” says an executive. Though the succession architecture is still under wraps, what is clear is that all three children — Akash, Isha and Anant — will hold executive positions in different businesses. As part of the succession plan, Mukesh Ambani recently stepped down as chairman of Reliance Jio, announcing Akash as his successor. Isha is also expected to get a similar position in Reliance Retail.
Nita is a doting mother who motivated her youngest son Anant in his weight-loss journey. She has also been instrumental in bringing him to the fore with the directorship of Jio Platforms Ltd. in May 2020. He was later appointed as director of oil, chemical and solar companies.
Nita is also encouraging daughter-in-law Shloka Mehta to take up more philanthropic initiatives. Shloka is already a known name in the philanthropy space through ConnectFor, an online platform she founded in 2015 to connect volunteers with NGOs.
“In all the roles I play across institutions, one of the key priorities is to create societal value through the work that we do. It is only when we stay mindful of our impact on people and the planet, that lasting legacies are built,” says Nita.
On the cricket front, Akash is helping Nita handle the affairs of the IPL franchise Mumbai Indians. RIL recently announced the acquisition of its T20 team in the South African Cricket league, and is also in the race to acquire a UAE-based T20 team. Nita is also chairperson of Football Sports Development Ltd., which runs the Indian Super League (ISL). The group has also partnered with the Indian Olympic Association to create sporting talent in the country.
On the philanthropic front, led by Nita, Reliance Foundation spent ₹1,140 crore on CSR activities during FY21. “We are humbled to have impacted the lives of over 63 million people across the remotest corners of our country,” she says. “For me, power is the ability to bring about change, and to empower people,” she adds.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19, Nita designed a plan with her team at Reliance Foundation to reach the most affected with medical, financial and food support. She also monitors the operations of the foundation’s hospitals on a day-to-day basis. She believes there is no substitute for hard work. “If you give your 100% and pursue your goals with all honesty, dedication, and sincerity, results will follow. But I would also add that life is about enjoying the journey and not just about reaching a destination,” she says.
Art is another area of interest for Nita. With the recent addition of Reliance Art Foundation, she aims to showcase the best of Indian art on the global stage.
Her message to women is to believe in the power of dreams and treasure the people in their circle. “We must learn to prioritise not only on the work front, but also in our personal life,” says Nita.