Business Standard

Business Standard Annual Awards for 2018: Celebrating enduring success

Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley presented the awards to winners in 12 categories at ITC Maurya, New Delhi

CEO of the Year Vinod K Dasari (left), former managing director and chief executive officer, Ashok Leyland, with finance minister Arun Jaitley | Photo: Dalip Kumar

CEO of the Year Vinod K Dasari (left), former managing director and chief executive officer, Ashok Leyland, with finance minister Arun Jaitley | Photo: Dalip Kumar

BS Reporter New Delhi
The Business Standard Annual Awards for Corporate Excellence, held on Friday evening, was a memorable way of closing the books of 2018-19 by toasting the spirit of success of the best-performing individuals and their contribution to society.

Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley presented the awards to winners in 12 categories at the ITC Maurya, New Delhi, before a packed house of thinkers and leaders — top bureaucrats, corporate leaders, and leading economists.

The event had all the elements of a blockbuster evening — heroes, good humour, emotions of joy and tears, poetry, and dialogues from Bollywood hits.

“It is a pleasure to be here at the Business Standard Annual Awards. It’s a newspaper meant for thinking people and of great use for policymakers to go through the seriousness of the articles written in it. It’s the third time I am here at this annual event, but this one is different from the earlier two,” Jaitley said.

Jamna Auto Industries Vice-Chairman Randeep Singh Jauhar's family  members and colleagues at the award function
Jamna Auto Industries Vice-Chairman Randeep Singh Jauhar’s family members and colleagues at the award function
With the general elections in the world’s largest democracy around the corner, Jaitley’s speech was a balanced mix of politics and economy.  The FM spoke of the changing socioeconomic profile of the country to a new India poised to handle any challenge like arresting high school dropout rates, as highlighted by the award-winning social entrepreneurs at the event.

The biggest takeaway for the audience was the fact that the winners of the award had contributed towards forming an equitable and inclusive society, while being successful in their own fields.

“The jury did not take much time to choose the winners of the year though it was a hard decision, considering there were so many good companies on the list. The statistics provided by Business Standard showed outstanding financial performance of all the shortlisted companies in the recent years,” said Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, who chaired the jury to select the best of India Inc.

The jury chose Vinod K Dasari, who stepped down as managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of Ashok Leyland on March 31, 2019, as the CEO of the Year for steering the company at a very difficult time, leading from the front and aggressively launching new product categories.

BS Award
BS Award
Clad in a grey Nehru jacket, Dasari, who won the CEO of the Year Award, summed up his 14-year challenge in a style not typical of a business leader.

“I remember, just like in the movie Deewar, a journalist once asked me ‘unke paas naya plant hai, world technology hai, bahut paisa hai, young workforce hai. Aapke paas kya hai?’ (They have a new plant, world-class technology, money, young workforce. What do you have?). I took a dramatic pause like (matinee idol) Shashi Kapoor and said: Mere paas meri team hai (I have my team).”  

The jury chose Hindustan Unilever (HUL) for Company of the Year award, which has remained at pole position despite formidable global and home-grown challengers — ranging from Procter & Gamble to Patanjali Ayurved, and delivering excellent shareholder value. 

With the acquisition of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare in an all-stock deal valued at Rs 31,700 crore in December last year, HUL will increase its lead further.

“While a large part of our capital may be overseas, we align ourselves with the national agenda,” Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and MD of HUL, said.

The Banker of the Year award was conferred on IndusInd Bank MD and CEO Romesh Sobti, who told the audience about the tough times bankers went through in the past few years, often “bashed for reckless lending”.

“We have survived this onslaught because there is a surprising element in our loan book. About 45 per cent of our lending stands for livelihood financing,” Sobti said. While pointing out the deep downturn cycle of the banking industry is turning, he quipped, ‘’selecting the best banker next year would be an even more onerous task for the jury.’’

“The bank has shown consistent performance in various parameters and the initiatives taken such as the amalgamation of Bharat Financial, which is a good balance sheet fit,” former Reserve Bank of India deputy governor S S Mundra, who chaired the banking jury, said.
Noshir Kaka, senior partner at McKinsey, and the longest-serving jury member, described the rigorous process of selecting winners. “You know the consultancy firms’ love for paper. And if there is only one institution which can outdo us in this is a newspaper and the research they put together. Sixty pages of numbers and 200 pages of facts... You have to be on top of the numbers and facts in front of this jury,” Kaka said, adding how it has been a learning curve for him all these years.

The 6’4”-tall Kaka shared with the audience how he learned one of the most important leadership lessons from the Lifetime Achievement award winner Adi Godrej, chairman of Godrej Group, at an important juncture of his career.

“I was told that I should meet Adi Godrej after I was asked to head McKinsey India. He (Godrej) asked what my height is and told me ‘remember, one job of a leader is when you walk into the room, you must make everyone feel one inch taller’.”

Godrej is also India’s most authoritative voice when it comes to ethics, corporate governance best practices, and environment protection, the jury had discussed.

The most visible sign of Godrej’s deep imprint on corporate governance in India can be gauged by the fact that almost half of the employees at the 121-year-old conglomerate are women. “I would also dedicate this award to around 750 million of our consumers in India and 1.5 billion users of our products globally,” Godrej said.

Jaitley smiled listening to Geeta Dharmarajan, writer, educationist, and founder of Katha, joint winner of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year award, who was beaming while holding the trophy. “I am elated receiving this award,” Dharmarajan said, who was almost in tears while narrating the plight of poor children, a majority of whom were unable to read or write and chose to drop out of schools.

The other Social Entrepreneur of the Year Ved Arya, co-founder of Srijan, which stands for Self Reliant Initiative through Joint Action, an IIT-IIM graduate who left a plum job at Tata Consultancy Services for social enterprise. He urged other qualified engineer-MBAs to come into the social sector and said, “If every entrepreneur from IIT-IIM were to donate Rs 1 crore, we could create the ecosystem of Bay Area for the social sector.”

S Ramadorai, chairman at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, headed the jury that chose the winners of the social excellence awards.

Delhi-based Jamna Auto Industries took away the Star SME (small and medium enterprises) of the Year award for its strong financial performance, which saw its market value grow annually over 30 per cent for past three years consistently. Receiving the award, Jamna Auto Vice-Chairman Randeep Singh Jauhar, dressed in black bandhgala and red turban, had the audience in splits when he said, “It was a great choice, actually.” Jauhar also shared the recipe of success with everyone, “All our employees work like entrepreneurs... I was visiting one of our plants and got to know that 75 per cent of employees have been working with us since the plant’s inception 25 years ago. That’s our strength.”

The Start-up of the Year award was delivered to Swiggy. “There is not a single minute in 24 hours when Indians don’t order food. I would dedicate this award to all food delivery personnel and the customers who order,” Swiggy Chief Operating Officer Vivek Sunder said. Honeywell Automation India was the chosen listed multinational firm to win the Star MNC of the Year and its MD Ashish Gaikwad promised that the best is yet to come for one of the most promising industrial engineering 

companies in India. Piramal Enterprises won the Socially Aware Corporate of the Year award for its work related to reducing mortality rates by 30 per cent and infant mortality rate by 20 per cent in the Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh for the Asara Tribal Health Programme.

Social Enterprise (NGO) of the Year award was given to Naz Foundation (India) Trust, which provides care and support to children and people living with HIV/AIDS and works towards greater inclusion and respect for members of the LGBTQ community. “The fact that they are persisting in that category and doing relevant work stood out for us. As the jury, we believe this institution must be recognised,” Ramadorai said.

Business Standard also recognised the outstanding work done by public sector companies and chose PowerGrid as the Star PSU of the Year, for its strong financial metrics, apart from facing competition effectively.

Ravi P Singh, the officiating chairman and MD of PowerGrid, chose poetry to share his feelings with the audience. “Parindo ko milegi manzil ek din, yeh faile hue unke par bolte hain, aur wahi log rehte hain khamosh aksar, zamaane mein jinke hunar bolte hain (Birds will reach their destination, that their wingspan can tell, And people often remain silent, whose talent speaks for them),” Singh said.

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Ayushman Bharat CEO Indu Bhushan, PepsiCo India President and CEO Ahmed El Sheikh, IndAsia Fund Advisors founder Pradip Shah, and former Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council member and noted economist Surjit Bhalla were among those who graced the awards function.

We follow an incredibly rigorous process with numbers and facts provided by Business Standard Research, which is supplemented by the qualitative feel of the jury members. Year after year, it is a humbling experience to walk out of that room seeing what winners have achieved and what you have learnt as part of that
Noshir Kaka
Senior partner, McKinsey, and Jury Member

Fascinating evening! Extremely impressed with the high quality of BS Award winners. They have all made such immense contribution to India’s growth and to society. It was inspirational hearing about their achievements. Demonstrates the rigour and professionalism with which winners were
selected by the jury
Amitabh Kant 

All awardees are role models who we should promote. I was particularly inspired by the winners in social excellence.
I congratulate BS for recognising their achievements
Indu Bhushan
CEO, Ayushman Bharat

My congratulations to the
BS team for a very well organised award ceremony. It gave me an opportunity to be up close and personal with some of the biggest change-makers who are taking India forward. It was very inspiring to hear their stories and learn from their experiences
Ahmed ElSheikh
President & CEO, PepsiCo India

Bravo! Proud to see a world class choice of awardees and the brilliant quality of intellectual discourse; it was an enriching and inspiring evening. One has come to expect only the intellectual best from Business Standard
Anand E Stanley
President and MD, Airbus India & South Asia

Minister speak 

Arun Jaitley

On the election mood
"We are in the midst of elections... At times, you lack depth when you speak...  I’m waiting for the next seven-eight weeks to be over. That would be the time for the return of an informed debate."
On how India has moved on 
‘’The inherent socio economic character of India is changing. The slogans of the past won’t work any longer…I have no doubt in my mind that in 2024, the largest single segment of India's electorate will be either the middle class or the neo middle class.  That is the pace at which the situation is changing…”
On consensus in GST
"A serious study has to be done as to how despite multiple parties having conflicting views on so many issues, thousands of decisions were taken in 34 GST Council meetings through consensus. We have the majority, but I never had to use voting."
On absence of agitation during NDA rule
“In our five-year tenure, we did not see any big social or political agitation. We did not see a situation where we raised direct or indirect taxes. We used technology, we took certain tough measures, we expanded the base and reduced direct and indirect tax rates, especially for those sectors which needed them.”
On bringing discipline in business
"For the first time, we are able to bring ethical discipline in businesses through IBC. That is, if you don't pay or can't pay, you should be ready to exit. …. Earlier, if you needed money, you ran after the banker and then he ran after you. That has been reversed now.
On growth servicing the poor
"My own feeling is that there is no conflict of interest between the economic model of a market-based economy and the interests of the underprivileged. It is only a strong economy that will service the poor.
CEO of the Year

Vinod Dasari

Former MD & CEO, Ashok Leyland

“Thank you Business Standard. My heartful thanks to my wife and the team at Ashok Leyland. My team created a motto for our firm ‘apki jeet, hamari jeet’. I dedicate this award to my team and say, ‘hamari jeet, apki jeet’.”

Vinod Dasari
Vinod Dasari

Company of the Year

Hindustan Unilever

Sanjiv Mehta, CMD

“I stand here representing lakhs of men and women who are part of our ecosystem. This award not only recognises our performance but the philosophy of our business. While a large part of our capital may be overseas, we align ourselves with the national agenda.”
Sanjiv Mehta
Sanjiv Mehta


Banker Of the year

Romesh Sobti

MD & CEO, IndusInd Bank

“The award of this nature is also cherished by the whole ecosystem that stands behind the individual. The last few years have been tough for banks and banking. We have survived this onslaught as 45% of our loan book is livelihood financing.”
Romesh Sobti
Romesh Sobti
Star MNC

Honeywell Automation India

Ashish Gaikwad, MD

“I am humbled to receive this award on behalf of my 15,000 colleagues. We see India as a big place for opportunity. We are trying to make the world a better, safer, smarter and a more sustainable place. The best is yet to come.” Star PSU

Ashish Gaikwad
Ashish Gaikwad

 Star PSU

Power Grid Corporation

Ravi P Singh, officiating CMD

“My sincere thanks to Business Standard. I feel honoured receiving this award from the Finance Minister himself. I dedicate this award to the wonderful workforce of Power Grid for whom impossible is nothing.”
Ravi P Singh
Ravi P Singh

Star SME

Jamna Auto Industries

Randeep Singh Jauhar, vice-chairman

“Thank you. It is all because of our employees. who are loyal, dedicated, and work like entrepreneurs. That’s our strength, besides innovation and customer satisfaction.”

Randeep Singh Jauhar
Randeep Singh Jauhar
 Start-up of the Year


Vivek Sunder, COO

“It’s a great pleasure to receive this award on behalf of 125,000 delivery executives and hundreds of customers who order every second with Swiggy. It's a tough job (delivery execution) as there is not one minute in 24 hours that Indians don't order food.”

Vivek Sunder
Vivek Sunder
Socially aware corporate of the year

Piramal Enterprises

Harinder Sikka, group director

“You can receive accolades for doing wonderful in business or add zeroes to your budget but there can be nothing better but to be of use to your own society. This is a humbling experience. We will cherish this.”
Harinder Sikka
Harinder Sikka


Social Enterprise of the Year

Naz Foundation (India) Trust

Kalyani Subramanyam, programme director

“This award is for every adolescent girl who needs to be here. They are truly the change-makers of today and the leaders of tomorrow. Thank you, Business Standard.”

Kalyani Subramanyam
Kalyani Subramanyam
Social Entrepreneur of the Year

Ved Arya

Founder, SRIJAN

“Thank you very much, Business Standard. This award goes to every SRIJANite. If every entrepreneur who has passed out of IIT-IIM contributes Rs 1 crore, we can have an ecosystem like the Bay Area for the social sector.”

Ved Arya
Ved Arya
Social Entrepreneur of the Year

Geeta Dharmarajan

Founder, Katha

“Thank you for choosing Katha. The volunteers and children are so gritty and full of life that anyone working with them would know that they must have a better future. India will have a better future if all children have a better future.”

Geeta Dharmarajan
Geeta Dharmarajan
Lifetime achievement

Adi Godrej

Chairman, Godrej Group

“Thank you, Business Standard. I dedicate the award to our tens of thousands of employees across the world — almost half of who are women. I also dedicate it to our 750 million consumers in India and about 1.5 billion consumers across the world who use our products.”
Adi Godrej
Adi Godrej
Topics : BS Awards

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First Published: Mar 31 2019 | 8:34 PM IST

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