“I woke up this morning with a steely glint in my eyes. I wasn’t sad, but emotional, yes... happy emotion. You grow someone for 22 years and then get her married off, so you are bound to feel something, right… But, this is an inflection point.” Anand Piramal, 25, the baby-faced son of Ajay and Swati, sounds almost philosophical, still jet-lagging from his late night flight from the US.
Sitting on the backbenches in a packed hall, the brother-sister duo of Anand and Nandini Piramal didn’t look like wallowing in self-pity as their father shook hands, smiled for the cameras and explained why he was exiting a key piece of the family jewels. They would rather have their father do all the talking.
“I think he was amazing up there. He said everything and was frank,” says Nandini.
In a custom-fitted grey suit and carrying a blackberry and a mobile phone, she is your quintessential corporate leader of tomorrow. Nandini’s been working for the group since the past four years, in different avatars, from strategic marketing to supply chain management to spearheading the Operational Excellence projects during her foreign postings in the UK and Canada. She may have grown up listening to the principles of the Gita and yoga from her parents, but when she starts talking, you know she means business. “We don’t have the marketing muscle overseas. It’s best for us to focus on the market that’s really growing and that’s here in India,” she highlights.
Clearly, Piramal Gen Next doesn’t like to mix emotions with bottom line. “We had exited textiles, but we still have glass…Exit or entry into a business is something you don’t have to be passionate about,” is her parting line.
Anand quickly adds: “By the way, we are not selling out pharma, it’s only domestic formulations. We have quite a sizeable piece that’s still with us.”
Were they part of the process? “Of course, we knew...We are a family that has grown up discussing business on the dinning table,” says Anand. He still has a year left to complete his Harvard Business School degree and he still insists that his B-school is better than his sister’s at Stanford, but for both, there is no moment to waste. That means no holidays yet, it’s time to work afresh from tomorrow. “I can’t wait to come back home and start working again. I’m sitting in the US but my heart is in India. India is the next big story and we want to be a part of it… there are so many business opportunities.” Plans he’s not willing to share yet.
Friends of the family say while they see Nandini immersed more in what is left of a sizeable pharma empire, the private equity business is something that maybe Anand would get more hands on with. Then again, Nandini’s married to a PE fund manager and if her wedding invitation — with melt-in-the-mouth macaroons — is anything to go by, maybe she would turn confectionery, too, into a business proposition.