The manner in which this man has quietly approached success is a unique example that not many can dream of coming anywhere close to him. Born into a lower-middle class trading family, he had to put a lot of efforts to persuade his father to let him pursue engineering studies. It is hard to believe that today this man is the force behind a business entity worth Rs 65,000 crore diversified in to airports, highways, energy, urban infrastructure etc.
Pushed by the family to take up a job, he initially worked in couple of government offices but did not like as there was not much to do and learn. Hence, he quit the job and joined his family business of trading in jute, pulses etc. His first entrepreneurial stint started with buying a sick jute unit from Chennai and turning it around into profitable jute mill. Subsequently, he got another jute mill, sugar factory, brewery license, ferro alloys, rolling mill etc.
He became a serial entrepreneur having started as many as 28 businesses before he accidentally entered into the infrastructure development business and later on divested all other non-infrastructure business to strategically focus only on infra business. There was a time when he cycled for 25 km every day, in mid-summer, to collect overdues from the buyers. Today, he uses his private aircrafts to travel on business necessities. He has become a respected name in the highly esteemed class of ‘who is who’ in the Indian Corporate Sector. The latest feather in his cap was the Director in the Central Board of prestigious Reserve Bank of India from year 2011 to 2015.
The man in the photograph is Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao known as GM Rao (GMR popularly in short), is a well-known and highly-respected businessman who needs no introduction. He is one of the top few pioneering entrepreneurs of the India’s biggest infrastructure companies heading the GMR Group, GMR was born in what was then a small a village named Rajam, some 100 km from Visakhapatnam. His father was a small-scale businessman who traded in jute and grains.
His father always encouraged him and his siblings to pursue education and find jobs for themselves. However, their mother always motivated them to start their own and wished for their entrepreneurial success. First blow of failure came in GMR’s way was when he failed in high school. This was enough for him to realize the importance of education, correct himself to excel in education and later in business.
Now he had one more thing to take care of – his mother’s wish
He and his brothers jumped into the same jute business and started exploring ways to expand it. In mid 1986-87, GMR separated amicably due to different aspirations, dividing the businesses and started his own group.
He joined the Vysya Bank as a Director on the board. He turned around the bank, made it profitable and started many new adjacency businesses like insurance and mutual fund. With opportunities coming up he acquired substantial ownership stake of the Vysya Bank. The bank was later taken over by ING to whom he sold his stake at a considerable profit and continued as non-executive chairman for some time before he resigned and focused on his own business.
GMR Group, true to its vision of creating value for the society, ventured into businesses of nation building. It was the first mover – first for the group, first for the industry, and first for the country. GMR was a pioneer in developing the infrastructure business on the PPP model. The group achieved considerable success for its execution abilities by delivering the landmark Terminal 3 of Delhi International Airport in the record time of 37 months, which is today ranked as Number One airport in the world in its category.
Today, the Group owns three airports in India – Delhi, Hyderabad and Goa airports; one airport in Philippines – Cebu airport and the only company submitted bid for the Crete airport in Greece. GMR Group is now among the Top 5 airports operator in the world. The group also has fifteen power generation projects of which eight are operational.
Only running the business has never been GMR thought process, he always believe that it is his duty to give back to the society in whatever way he could. ‘Inclusive Growth’ has always been GMR philosophy.
Since beginning, with 2–3% of profit every year being earmarked for social entrepreneurship, he set up GMR Varalakshmi Foundation, a not-for-profit, professionally run, independent company, present in 27 locations focused on education, healthcare, vocational training for jobless youth, and community development for the under-served.
To ensure the sustainability, GMR endowed the entire portion of his personal wealth to the Foundation, so that it does not suffer from lack of funds, even beyond his life time and should go on for perpetuity.
There was a time when, all that GMR knew was to sell Jute products in the domestic markets but he held on to his resolution of winning one day and presently heads an empire worth over Rs 65,000 crore!
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