Mukesh Ambani Curated

Chairman of Reliance Industries

CURATED BY :      +44 others

This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Mukesh Ambani have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Mukesh Ambani's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming industrialists. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • And that's one of the things I was going to ask you because, in some sense, all of what you've done in laying out the network capability you talked about has led to this, and in people being empowered consuming more and using more. And what I mean is that you have the best rates and connectivity today. Now, you also have an ambition to say: What can you do for small, medium and large businesses? In fact our partnership in some senses is about how you take what I talked about, combine it wi...

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  • Absolutely, thank you.

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  • So Mukesh, I know and I have heard you speak very passionately about India's potential, and especially since we were having the conversation about what can the next 10 years represent. You've talked about how the Indian economy will grow, and how digital will be a big part of it. Maybe share your thoughts on how you see, perhaps, this economy thriving in the next 10 years.

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  • You guys seem to be going on overdrive with ambition.

    I don't think that ambition should not be in the dictionary of entrepreneurs. But our ambition should be realistic. You have to realise that you can't do everything. Unlike a whole lot of other guys, we are patient. Both Anil and I are 34-35 years old. We have another 25 years of demonstrating to the world at large, to say what we are up to.

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  • You have the power to prevent or kill competition, move governments....

    You only become more accountable. There is power, but it's positive power. If you talk about the power of money, it is important for us to run in a completely balanced way. Not only us, but nobody else can misuse that. Those days are gone. Those basic degrees of freedom are gone. We don't want politics in Reliance. We have already got enough nonsense going on everywhere else.

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  • How do you plan to work out future areas of control?

    Both of us work as a team. We revolve areas among ourselves, so that we are both well-rounded. And this is what we are now doing. The control of finance and people is the most important thing, and this is where both of us work in the simple way of conferencing. What kind of training, what kind of people, future, everything. In the complicated businesses we run, this is very important.

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  • But you reacted. V.P. Singh was gunning for you...

    I think it is wrong to think that he was openly gunning for us.

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  • Why are you so defensive?

    I think it's basically...well, a whole lot of good friends, including professionals we respect, have said let's do some image building, sab log gaali deta hai (everybody curses us). We always said ki no bhai.

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  • What was the right way?

    The right way to go was to say that we really believe in this business, that we will be able to give adequate returns to shareholders from whom we have taken money.

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  • Wasn't Dhirubhai trumpeting his success too much at a time when he perhaps ought not to have, political equations being what they were?

    In terms of figuring out the right strategy, or media at a particular point of time we just didn't understand that. At that point in our business it was not important. Our attitude ever since 1984-85 has been: If we are real villains in the eyes of the people, we can't help it, If we really believe that this is the right way to go, ultimately we'll win.

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  • Some critics say that Reliance is now going legit.

    We don't get provoked (laughs). We've not changed, it's people's perception that has changed.

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  • You always say that. What are you?

    A group of bright young Indians, without historical baggage - of saying we are a great big multinational company, or with a 100-year family history. So we have a fire in our belly, ki kuchh karke dikhana hai (We have to achieve something). That is what keeps us driving. That is the key focus of starting from five people saying let's put something together. Let's show India first. Now we're saying let's show the world.

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  • You're low-key now. Why did you shoot off before and get into still more trouble?

    What is the controversy? Let's be very clear about it. Your perception of controversy is what Indian Express wrote. Unfortunately, the readers...you look at Indian Express in the last six months, I'm sure there are 10 articles against Reliance, maybe it's the same old thing coming up again and again, so people are fed up. Maybe they had a false image for us and that has come to light. You are what you are.

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  • But with Reliance, it's never the end of story. You're never taken at face value.

    I think it's a question of time. Lever has been here for donkey's years, other companies have been here for 50-100 years, so you have a general expectancy level of what they are likely to achieve and what they say. Maybe by the year 2050, the same question may not be asked about Reliance. From our position, we believe that it's better to perform than really keep talking. If my asset base has grown, if I have raised Rs 2,500 crore, if I have ploughed back internal accruals into projects, where I have not paid tax in terms of our planning, then where have these assets come from?

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  • Haven't you used the capital market as a crutch for too long? And deployment is still in doubt.

    Let's talk about capital markets. Indian industry always thought ki bhai the shareholder doesn't have to be bothered about. The way to make money is to put in money in the projects, take out money from the company, and maximise personal wealth. But if profits are retained in the company, your share value will increase. You then automatically create wealth for yourself and also for shareholders. You have to manage money. Particularly with market economies. You may have a great product but if your bottom line goes bust then that's it. You have to ask how much money did Reliance take, and what is its market value today? And effectively, is all the money accounted for in a clear, transparent manner or not? End of story.

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  • You still have a problem being accepted.

    No, it's not a problem. Essentially, whoever is successful, whoever is going to do things that make a difference, is going to be talked about. Everybody has equal opportunity, and I think that is true for everything. I think we changed the whole business ethos in this country. We have to be clear to the owners of this company - we're not 100 per cent owners. The enhancement of shareholder value - this is the key corporate buzz-word.

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  • What Mukesh Ambani said on Jio - Facebook deal?

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  • This is indeed a dramatic situation…

    As we sit in India, consequence for India is very favourable as we are one of the largest importers of oil. It helps our forex bill, helps lower prices and in a certain sense it helps fiscal deficit of the government as they can mop up incremental revenue. For oil importing countries it is very good. On an overall economic basis, it is deflationary. All of us understand the dangers of deflation.

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  • How long is long?

    At least 3 to 5 years until we see a structural change, but i’ve always been wrong (smiles).

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  • What does that mean? Could you explain?

    What it really means is that we have had oil price spikes but never has it been because of more supply than demand. Also because of innovation primarily in the US, we have large quantitues of oil. The US has gone from less than a million barrels per day to 9 million barrels a day and OPEC has lost control of supply.

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  • Your company runs the largest oil refinery in the world. What do you think is the trajectory for oil prices going forward?

    As we see the situation- it’s low for long. And it’s really the first time in the world that oil prices have gone down on incremental supply.

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  • Do you think this is the best investment opportunity in the world right now?

    This digital infrastructure I think is a very good investment. For me personally, we made this investment just to make sure that the youth of India, which is still the bulk of India — India, as you know, is a very young country — is empowered, and they have an equal opportunity to not only prosper themselves, but to contribute to this new world. “And that was really our main reason. And that’s why we took very high risks. As time has passed, this looks pretty good even business-wise.

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  • So by 2018, would a rural farmer in India have better internet than somebody in America.

    I think if you look at what you have in the US, right…after 5 years all the major carriers cover only 75-80 % of the US..and we would be pretty much doing that in 2016 itself.

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  • To put it simply, would it be fair to say, India has not been really connected to the internet in a broad sense because infrastructure being such…the landlines that provide wired internet reach only about a 100-150 million Indians. What you are proposing is…

    Well we are ready to launch and in the second half of 2016, 80% of India’s population will have high speed mobile broadband internet - so 80 % of the 1.3 billion Indians will have high speed mobile internet. By 2017 end, we will cover 90 % and by 2018 all of India would be covered by this (Jio) digital infrastructure.

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  • Your company generates huge amounts of cash. You have been pouring all of of this into one huge venture which is to provide the internet to people essentially on cellphones. Why do you think this is worth that massive investment?

    I believe that humanity is at the doorstep of massive change and we are just at the beginning of the information and digital age. And, in the next 20 years, in a networked society, we are going to have change much more than we have seen in the last 100 years. It’s really digitisation and the digital world that is going to lead this. From an India point of view…India cannot be left behind in this revolution. As we saw the year 2012-13, India is 150th in the world in mobile broadband penetration as well as quality. And Jio is really concieved to change this position.

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  • Your son Akash is very interested about gaming industry.What do you think?

    That is difficult, Akash is very excited in terms of like gaming doesn’t really exist in India and with everything that we are doing in xCloud and our broadband connectivity, I think there is huge potential. For some of us who don’t know what gaming is - it is very hard to imagine that gaming will be bigger than music, movies and TV shows all put together, but we will see.

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  • You once said in one of our interviews that if you have a difficult problem to solve, the way you look at it is to ask what Dhirubhai would have done. Do you still do that?

    Yes, of course, I still do that. Even the 40-year-olds at Reliance, who may not have worked closely with Dhirubhai, also do that since we have institutionalised his principles. One day, we need to put this out for the whole world since his principles are timeless. It’s on my to-do list.

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  • Your father built a business of a massive scale. You are trying to build a similar business with telecom. Is this the legacy you want to leave, like your father did?

    There is only one Dhirubhai. I am a very small part of Dhirubhai. For us, his spirit is timeless. It will continue to inspire and guide Reliance beyond me. He had given me a mandate and it is very satisfying to fulfil it. He had told me that the process of Reliance should last beyond you and me. I have seen the journey from when we raised Rs 1.8 crore to today when we can afford to spend Rs 2,50,000 crore on our energy and digital businesses and still have one of the strongest balance sheets in the world. That satisfies me. Reliance will always be Dhirubhai’s Reliance.

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  • You have called Reliance Jio the world’s largest startup. How did you inculcate the values of a startup in Jio?

    What does a startup do? You start with the objective of solving a big problem. For us, the big problem was a societal problem facing India. If we accept that mobile internet is the technology of the century, we as Indians cannot accept that we are languishing at 155th in the world in terms of mobile broadband access. It is the same feeling as when we, as a country of 1.2 billion people, win just a handful of medals at the Olympics. Neither is befitting the potential of a country of 1.2 billion people. I think that’s what startups do — solve what nobody else has solved before. What we do as a startup is to make a sincere attempt. If the attempt is successful, the startup becomes a great company.

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  • What are the main elements of the Reliance management system?

    Well, the first element is our philosophy of value creation. As Reliance, we will first focus on what societal value we create. After societal value, we will focus on creating customer value, followed by employee value and, finally, sustainable shareholder value. Within this framework, we have broken them into sub-components. We have financial management system, which define how we deal with all the finance and regulatory pieces. We have a people management system, which defines all components starting from the entry-level to our group-level leaders to the executive committee and how do we bring all of them together. We have an operations managementsystem. Operationally, we have digitised our whole business. And, we have a set of corporate standards and behaviours, which, to my mind, institutionalises the Dhirubhai philosophy in our management systems. His philosophy is timeless. Now, we feel comfortable that the process and the institution of Reliance will last beyond us. Jio is born with these managing systems already in place.

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  • How closely were you personally involved in the Jio project?

    I spent quite a bit of my time with Jio. You can say that I was very hands-on. We have built an ecosystem, starting with just a few of us, growing to about 60,000 people. There were just a core group of about 50 of us that worked on this for the first few years. Then, we brought in the other professionals. All of us had no choice but to be hands-on. Our established businesses of hydrocarbons, energy and petrochemicals pretty much run on their own, with their own proven leaders.This has helped me focus almost exclusively on two things: Firstly, new businesses. And secondly, institutionalising what I call the Reliance Management System. In the last three years, we have quietly put together the Reliance management system and we have rejuvenated our leadership cadre. Across the Reliance group now, we have identified leaders in the mid- 40s, and you will see them take more prominent leadership responsibilities. In terms of new businesses, Jio and Jamnagar require my time since they are new projects.

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  • The Jio launch took six years. Did you have any doubts along the way? Has the wait been worth it?

    What we wanted to do was set our own path. What we have decided to do has not been attempted in the whole world. We have built an all-IP, only-LTE, 100 per cent VoLTE (voice over LTE) network ground up for the Internet. We worked with all the device manufacturers to bring down device prices. Three-four years back, people said 4G phones would cost Rs 30,000. Now, we have provided an entry-level price point with our JioFi device at just Rs 1,999 and with our popular LYF brand of smartphones at just Rs 2,999. Building that ecosystem takes time and patience. The whole content ecosystem that we have put in place also takes time. The most important consideration was that all of this had to work synergistical .. We had to actively test all this. We have chosen to be at the bleeding edge of technology. Only then would we be able to pass on the fullest benefits to Indian customers. Today, everybody in the world sells data at $10/GB. That rate, with purchasing power parity, just doesn’t make sense. So, we have brought it down to under one USD. We had to go through this process. The world did not believe us when we started, but we went with our convictions.We have tried very sincerely. I am quite satisfied with what they have delivered. Fundamentally, if you are doing something very different, you should allow it to take its time.

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  • What was the driving thought behind Reliance Jio? Is the launch of Reliance Jio a dream come true for you?

    I am personally a big believer that technology is the biggest driver of human development and if you can use technology to benefit people, then that’s the best business you can have. Mobile internet will be the single-most defining technology of this century for human development. We feel fortunate to be the ones to bring the mobile broadband revolution to 1.2 billion Indians.

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  • Jio is about customer services. How do you react when someone says old Indian conglomerates like the Ambanis are not good at building a consumer businesses?

    We are not offended. We let our actions speak. And we win hearts of people. It's not about one Ambani or one ABCD. This is really a tribute and a challenge to the 60,000 people of Jio. These are all professionals - they are software engineers, marketing professionals... They are young Indians and their average age is 30. It's our job to motivate them, to say that we can be better than anybody else in the world.

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  • You announced lifetime free voice calling at a time when 70% of industry's revenues come from voice. How did this idea come up?

    If you noticed my public utterances, and I speak very rarely, I made this point (of free voice call) more than once in the past. I had spoken in Delhi at a Brown University function where the president of Brown and the media were present. I had met the CEO of Verizon and he had said, "Oh in your country you still charge for voice? We stopped doing that long ago." This was 2014. The world-over, it has happened. We have been consistently saying this, but nobody believed us.

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  • Have the last 10-12 years been a lost decade for Indian telecom?

    The facts speak for themselves. We as Indians cannot and should not accept the fact that we are 155th in the world out of 230 countries in broadband and mobile internet access. We have to change this. Just as, for a country of 1.2 billion, it is not acceptable that we win only two Olympic medals. For us and the next generation, this has to be unacceptable. The important thing is to figure out what we can do to correct the situation today. Jio will enable India to be among the top 10 countries in broadband and internet access within the next few years.

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  • You were very clear that you would get into telecom?

    In business, it is always good to back a winning horse. But the challenge is to be the first to know which is the winning horse. We saw mobile internet as the winning horse before anybody else did. The mobile internet has won the world over. Companies that had bet on mobile internet have created the largest value in the last 10 years. So, Jio is not really a telecom company . It is a tech company. We really think so . We are not an old world telecom company.

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  • Ever since you had to let go of telecom in the family split of 2005 there was a sense that you will return to this business with something better and bigger. Would you call Jio a magnificent obsession of yours? After all you could've done something else which was equally big. Why telecom?

    am a big believer that whatever has gone, lies in the past. You should only learn from it, and you should only look at the present and the future. That's been my father's philosophy and mine as well. I have always believed that technology drives human civilization's endeavour and progress. So if you ask what is my obsession, it is technology. In the 1970s it was technology in chemical engineering-- the whole question of building Reliance from a textile company to an energy major. We were the biggest in textiles in the 1970s. Everybody expected me to study textiles. I wanted to pursue chemical engineering, because I thought it was the future. It's the thought of future that drives me. My obsession is with technology and how it can improve human life. In my view, what we have seen in the last 300 years is only a trailer. The next 20 years will overshadow the last 300 years-to the extent that we would not be able to fathom today. I wish I was 30 years old today. The opportunity in front of us today is huge.

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