Though building the world's largest single-location refinery complex in Jamnagar, Gujarat is credited to Mukesh Ambani, many a thing there has the signature of his wife Nita Ambani. She led the designing and construction of the township which was built to reside about 5,500 families of Reliance employees in the late 1990s. She even created a mango orchard in the barren land in refinery complex.
Nita Ambani, the chairperson of Reliance Foundation, says the construction of the township in Jamnagar was the turning point in her career.
"We worked out of tin sheds in the scorching heat and dust, with temperatures as high as 42 Celsius and no trees to provide relief. The region received less than 400 cm of rain and groundwater was scarce. So, I was literally in charge of creating an oasis in an arid land," says Nita, who topped the list of Fortune India's Most Powerful Women 2022.
Nita Ambani was the only woman working alongside 75,000 men at the location. So there were even funny moments like she was referred to as 'sir'. "I was mistakenly referred to as 'sir' many times," she says.
"My twins Isha and Akash were only five-years-old at the time and my youngest one Anant was only two. I used to leave home at 6.30 in the morning and come back to Mumbai the same evening, before the children's bedtime. I did this twice a week for three years," says Ambani, who is also the director of the flagship business, Reliance Industries (RIL).
Nita Ambani adds that there were several setbacks on the way. "When our work was 60% complete, Jamnagar was hit by a devastating cyclone in 1998 and an earthquake in 2001. It would have been easy to give up all hope at that time, but we mustered our strengths and took up the challenge to rebuild," she says.
The once semi-arid region of Jamnagar has been transformed into a flourishing zone of flora and fauna in all these years where the rainfall has doubled. It houses the largest mango orchard in Asia.
"Looking back, from education to philanthropy to my tryst with sport -- be it Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai, Reliance Foundation, Mumbai Indians, Indian Super League, Reliance Foundation Hospital, or our ambitious new tribute to Mumbai and to India, the Jio World Centre, it is the journey that has always been as fulfilling and rewarding as the results we have been fortunate to receive," says Nita Ambani.
She says the work that she does with Reliance Foundation has always been close to her heart. "It brings me immense hope, purpose, and fulfilment. There is no greater source of joy than the millions of smiles we have been able to share with people from the most marginalised sections of our society," she adds. The foundation has impacted the lives of over 63 million across the country.
Her priority as the director of RIL and other institutions is to drive the institutions to create societal value through the work they do. "It is only when we stay mindful of our impact on people and the planet, that those lasting legacies are built. The true purpose of a company is to generate prosperity for the community, for the nation, and the world at large," she says.
Her advice to the women in business is that they should believe in the power of their dreams and treasure the people in their circle. "In everything that they do, the real success lies in lifting and empowering each other, and growing together," she says.
"It's important to know while juggling rubber balls and glass balls that the former may bounce back when you miss, but the glass balls will crack and break if you let them fall. So, we must learn to prioritise not only on the work front but also in our personal life. And while you prioritise, also remember to enjoy the process because life is actually about making memories that one can cherish forever," she adds.
She says 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," she notes.