Family-led businesses: 2015 - When the GenNext took wing

Cipla has just entered its 80th year and the year saw two major developments happen as far as the next generation of the Hamied family, which leads Cipla, is concerned.

By E Kumar Sharma  
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cipla, one of India's oldest pharmaceutical companies, has just entered its 80th year and the year saw two major developments happen as far as the next generation of the Hamied family, which leads Cipla, is concerned.

Kamil Hamied, the nephew of Y.K. Hamied, the Non-executive Chairman and Cipla's face for many within the industry and outside, made an exit from the company while Samina Vaziralli , Hamied's niece, was inducted into the board and made the executive director in July 2015. In fact, in what many Cipla employees see as a clear vote of trust in her, Hamied, in his recent global webcast to all Cipla's employees to mark the 80th year and the completion of his over 55 years of active association with Cipla told them: "As we see a transformation to the next generation of the Hamied family, I have no doubt that in Samina Vaziralli we have a trustee who will preserve, inspire and enhance the spirit that we call Cipla."

Within Cipla and even outside, Vaziralli is widely seen as being instrumental in giving shape to the company's major moves globally in the recent past, including the two major acquisitions that the company did in September this year in the US. These were to strengthen its generics business with the announcement to acquire InvaGen Pharmaceuticals, with its strengths in generic drugs and Exelan Pharmaceuticals, which gives Cipla access to the government and institutional market in the US through Exelan's expertise, engagement and management team in the business. All of this in a deal valued at $550 million. Plus, Vaziralli is also seen as the person behind the induction of key senior leaders, including Umang Vohra as Global Chief Financial and Strategy Officer and Prabir Jha as Global Chief People Officer in October 2015.

Like Vaziralli, within India Inc, generation next in other leading Indian businesses also spent time building on their strengths. For instance, Ashni Biyani, daughter of Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani, who has been driving Future Ideas - a consulting entity that she has given shape to over the past couple of years - says 2015 "has been an interesting year where we have tried to understand the digital landscape. We also tried to create new research methodologies".

It was also the case with Kulin Lalbhai, the Stanford and Harvard-educated son of Sanjay S. Lalbhai, the Chairman and Managing Director of Arvind, the textile and apparels major. With a new e-commerce initiative, Kulin Lalbhai is adding new dimensions to Arvind. This was with Arvind Internet Ltd (AIL), a start-up by the Arvind group, with its online custom clothing brand - Creyate.

"We are very happy with all the initiatives....we are pursuing an omni-channel strategy and you can seamlessly buy offline and online," says Sanjay S. Lalbhai. There are good reasons why he is now excited about the new year. "The main launch is going to be in February," he says. "All our stores will get digitised and you will be able to buy all the brands online and offline seamlessly. So, when you go to our store and do not get your size or colour, you can order it over the Net and it will be home-delivered. So, you will never have a situation of stock out."

It is not without reason that Kavil Ramachandran, Executive Director, Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprises at the Indian School of Business and a family business expert, feels what stood out about 2015 was the next generation's zeal for entrepreneurship, especially with some of the new ventures, with some of them IT-driven, online or with service components.

And all of this with the support of the family.

 

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