Being born in a prosperous family doesn’t facilitate you to become successful. It comes from working hard, understanding strategies and proving your worth. Story of Gautam Thapar makes one understand why it is always better to rely on your own strengths and build a towering success on the foundation you have.
Born in 1960 into the influential family of Karam Chand Thapar, founder of Thapar Groups, Gautam did not mingle with his cousins or his extended relatives at early age because of the estranged relationship of his father BM Thapar with his uncles.
However, if not the blessings of his relatives, this new born received the blessings of a sage who predicted that this child would take the Thapar empire to great heights. This child who grew up to be Gautam Thapar, became the Chairaman and CEO of Thapar Group earning the company revenue of $4 billion annually.
Being born in Kolakta, Gautam completed his schooling from Doon School after which he went to New York to join Pratt Institute to receive degree in engineering. Gautam was not fortunate enough to be served the legacy of his family business because his father had already stepped out of the business. This gave his relatives an opportunity to taunt him that the branch of the big tree (Thapar Group) was dead.
The twist of fate knocked Gautam’s door when his uncle, with whom he was not in talking terms, called him to join the company. At the moment, Gautam was struggling to find a decent job in US. It was Vikram Thapar, his nephew who was groomed and trained to run the business. But Gautam hesitantly took the charge of ailing AP Rayons to nurture and grow it to something fruitful.
Gautam started off as a factory assistant but his hard work, and decisiveness received the attention his uncle. He was thus chosen for the top jobs. He started by revamping Andhra Pradesh Rayon and went on to join BILT by exporting new ranges of products viz. leather, shoes and food.
During this process he also learned to be successful and digest it silently. All these qualities led him to become the chairman of entire group in 2006. This is where the real struggle kicked in; he could not run the company by merely visiting factory sites, the important part was to know the ground realities and face challenges.
Gautam, a visionary leader at age of 50, revitalised the existing condition of the Group and enhanced it to grow distinctly. The ambition was to take the company back to its glorious days when it stood among top 5 industries of country. Under his supervision, the company grew vastly from its past 13 years revenue of Rs 200 crore to a whopping Rs 20,000 crores.
Today, Gautam is managing a group of diverse companies including Avantha Power & Infrastructure, Crompton Greaves (now CG), BILT (paper), and The Global Green Company which are renowned brands in India. He is not functioning directly as the CEO in many companies right now but is more of an advisor. Gautam holds 41% shares in Crompton Greaves and almost 50% in BILT, a paper company.
Gautam is instrumental in reviving many ailing units of the group into a profitable business now. He has received accolades for contributing to the world of industries. He is the recipient of the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Award for manufacturing, besides many laurels for his leadership. The government of India also appointed him on the National Security Advisory Board, which takes care of the policy making in the areas of politics, economy, energy and strategic security.
He sure has earned awards but this doesn’t mean he is a man of sombre taste, Gautam is a man of dignity and style. His white shirt has cufflinks with initials of his name – GT. He is a voracious reader and his room holds this true. His office has quite a number of clocks with times of cities of world – London, Brussels, Delhi and Mumbai. A reverse clock is also present there called ‘patal.’
Gautam also contributed in the area of education. He heads Thapar University and supervises Nation Institute of Industrial Training. The Aspen Institute India, under his chairmanship, is also busy internationalizing the leadership in India. In partnership with Confederation of Indian Industries, he has launched the CII-Avantha Center for Competitiveness to make Indian small scale industries competitive and global.
Thus, we can learn from his struggles that inheriting a legacy doesn’t make you a leader. In order to become a leader one has to gain knowledge of the scratch and be persistent about his endeavors. Gautam has sailed the ship of hardship and today stands grounded with his every achievement.
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