MUMBAI: The next generation of Birlas is set for bigger responsibilities at the $60-billion Aditya Birla Group. Kumar Mangalam Birla’s older daughter Ananya Birla and son Aryaman Vikram Birla have been inducted as directors on the board of Aditya Birla Management Corporation (ABMCL), the apex body that provides strategic direction to the group’s businesses. The two have also been inducted on the board of Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail (ABFRL), a listed entity.
This is the first time the scions will play an active role in the group even while they continue to manage their own entrepreneurial ventures.
Ananya, 28, is an entrepreneur and platinum selling singer-songwriter. Her first company, Svatantra Microfin, which she founded when she was only 17, is among India’s fastest-growing micro-finance institutions (MFIs), having crossed an AUM of $1 billion.
Her younger brother Aryaman, 25, comes with diverse experience in entrepreneurship, VC investing, and professional sport.
In a statement, Kumar Mangalam Birla (55), chairman, Aditya Birla Group, said: “Ananya and Aryaman’s exceptional individual achievements in their chosen fields and early success with their independent entrepreneurial ventures set them up well for larger responsibilities. Their nuanced understanding of new-age business models and emerging shifts in consumer behaviour will infuse fresh energy to the board of ABFRL.”
According to sources, the two have been groomed by their father, who has followed their entrepreneurial growth with interest; it has helped them imbibe many of his characteristics.
Their entry is through new-age businesses run by the diversified conglomerate which has traditionally been in the brick-and-mortar space of metals, cement, carbon black and pulp and fibre, to name a few. The board believes that ABFRL will benefit from the new-age insights of Ananya and Aryaman.
On the other hand, being on the board of the Birla thinktank ABMCL would provide them an overview of the entire group, said sources. It is expected to give them exposure and kindle interests that are beyond the new age.
Expectations from the two are big given their legacy. Their grandfather, Aditya Vikram Birla, globalised the business way back in 1969, two decades before India liberalised its economy. He left behind a global operation with revenues of over Rs 8,000 crore in 1995. His son Kumar Mangalam, who adopted a combination of organic and inorganic growth strategies, took expansion and growth to a new level. Today, the Aditya Birla Group is spread across 36 countries with over 140,000 employees. Over 50% of its revenues come from overseas operations.
“Ananya and Aryaman are firmly rooted in the group’s values and passionately believe in the group’s purpose. I am confident that they will build on the group’s rich entrepreneurial traditions and successful track record in creating sustained stakeholder value,” said Birla, who has been named in the list of Padma winners this year.
While Aryaman is involved with several businesses of the AB Group, Ananya’s Svatantra, the youngest, highest rated organisation in the sector, successfully acquired Micro Housing Finance Corporation in 2018.
In consultation with his father, Aryaman is said to be actively championing the group’s foray into new-age businesses. He helped incubate a D2C platform, TMRW. His maiden entrepreneurial foray was in hospitality. Aryaman is also spearheading the venture capital fund, Aditya Birla Ventures.
Ananya founded the design-led home decor brand Ikai Asai. On the social front, she co-founded an initiative to champion mental health named Mpower, which started a helpline and ran a treatment centre. She is also founder of the Ananya Birla Foundation that began with a Covid relief project.