This is the story of an extraordinary business leader Anil Naik and the company Larsen & Toubro (L&T) he has served for 53 years and led for the last 18.
Long coveted by the Ambanis and Birlas L&T has an annual turnover of Rs 120000 crore and a market capitalisation of more than Rs 160000 crore. It is involved in several critical national projects: India's first nuclear-powered submarine; strategic weapon and missile systems; space exploration including maiden missions to the moon and Mars; global infrastructure; airports; metro rail systems; and nearly all of India's nuclear power plants. L&T's Hazira manufacturing complex Vadodara's Knowledge City and the Kattupalli shipyard have become symbols of world-class Indian engineering and technology.
Author Minhaz Merchant spoke to Naik over several months to construct a compelling narrative of a remarkable company and its chairman. What emerges is a portrait of a man whose work and life have been bedrocked on a deeply felt sense of nationalism synonymous with helping to build a strong and self-reliant India. From a south Gujarat village to the chairmanship of L&T Anil Naik's journey has been one of grit determination entrepreneurial leadership 16-hour workdays and a unique management style. What emerges is a visionary leader who ringfenced L&T from corporate takeovers by creating an innovative employee welfare foundation and transformed L&T into a global technology and engineering powerhouse.
Naik also emerges as a devoted family man and a generous philanthropist who has donated most of his personal income to charities through family trusts focused on healthcare education and community service. Naik's father Manibhai a teacher who spent his life serving the rural poor was his role model who taught him to be fearless and honest with the motto: 'If you are in the right you have nothing to fear.'
This is the story of a man who surmounted great odds to reach the pinnacle of success says Merchant. It demonstrates more than anything else that honesty -- the quality Naik prizes most -- pays the greatest dividend of all in the end: the respect of your peers the loyalty of your colleagues and the affection of your family.