Life is all about creating a balance. If you observe closely, you constantly balance, expectations and reality, conflicts and camaraderie, hopes and disappointments, old and modern. Creating a balance is a vital skill of life. The more adept you are at this, the better is your progress. Let us learn more about this with an example of Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group (ABG).
Honored with the Padma Bhushan in January 2023, Kumar Mangalam Birla’s success story is inspirational on many levels. But in this article, we will only explore how he created a BALANCE.
Kumar Mangalam Birla assumed leadership at the young age of 28, after the death of his father Mr. Aditya Birla.
He inherited a successful business, being run in a closed traditional Marwari setup. A mark of the system was that positions were naturally filled by the children of the older employees, irrespective of their abilities. Kumar Birla recognized the inadequacy of this system, and embarked upon the arduous journey of developing a system based on meritocracy.
Do you think it was an easy task for him?
It is difficult to explain the need for professionalism when the business is already well-established. But being a visionary, Kumar Birla had gauged that he had to bring about this change. He hired managers from multinational companies, putting an end to the tradition of employing ageing staff.
A retirement age of 60 was set. The group explained it in detail and made sure that it was not sprung as a surprise, with those close to retirement getting a two-year grace period and some extra cash.
He infused fresh blood into the group, but also retained many seniors such as Askaran Agarwala and Dwarka Das Rathi, who continued to lead group companies.
One of the key roles created by Kumar Birla was that of people who would determine strategy and today ABG is a multinational conglomerate with presence in 36 nations and a combined annual revenue of $65 billion, over 50% of which is derived from its overseas operations
Kumar Birla says: “Very often people get so caught up in running the businesses that they have no time left for spotting opportunities.”
Have you been postponing an important change in your personal or professional life for the fear of IMBALANCE?