Marking a transition in leadership for India's wealthiest family as well as the telecom business landscape, Akash Ambani was named the chairperson of Reliance Jio on Tuesday, 28 June. Further, his twin sister Isha Ambani is expected to be handed the reins of Reliance Retail.
In a stock exchange filing, Reliance Jio Infocomm said that the company's board at a meeting on Monday, "approved the appointment of Akash M Ambani, non-executive director, as chairman of the board of directors of the company."
Mukesh Ambani, Akash's father and the head honcho of Reliance Industries, resigned as director of the telecom major, effective 27 June.
Akash, who joined Jio in 2014, has been an integral part of the company and has spoken about his family's influence on him.
Education, Parental Influence and Akash's Decision To Return to India
Akash Ambani has completed his schooling from the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai. He then pursued his graduation in Economics from Brown University, United States.
Akash, who steers away from the limelight, had said in an interview with Hello! magazine in 2014 that his legacy does not weigh upon him, but is rather a source of motivation.
"I have grown up in an environment where work has always been a passion, right from my grandfather to my father and mother," he said.
He shared that he had not been keen on returning to India after his graduation, and it was something his father Mukesh said to him that changed his mind.
Mukesh had asked his son what he used internet for. To read, learn, gain knowledge, Akash had replied. "So, wouldn’t he like to provide such a platform for knowledge to 1.2 billion Indians? Now it is your choice whether you want to make a difference to your life or to the lives of others’ also,” his father had told him, Akash said in the interview, noting that the conversation was the turning point in his life.
The elder son of the Ambanis also notes that his mother, Nita, had an influential role to play in the children's lives. He said in the interview with Hello! that his mother had instilled simplicity in his life, and that all his expenses went through her even when he was at Brown.
Akash's Work at Jio
Akash Ambani had joined Reliance Jio in 2014, when the company was at a critical juncture of finalising the rollout of its 4G telecom venture.
Since then, he has been closely involved with the disruptive and inclusive growth path charted by the digital services and consumer retail propositions of Reliance Group and is now leading the creation of the ‘convergence dividend’ for over 500 million consumers, digitally and with high-inclusivity across geographies and income levels, as per a press note by the company.
He was also closely involved with a team of engineers in inventing and launching an India-specs focused Jiophone in 2017. He, along with Isha, also headed the largest beta testing programme in India, when over 5 lakh homes were testing the Jio Fiber internet and voice calling services.
Akash was at the forefront of negotiations with Facebook that resulted in the $5.6 billion investment in Reliance Jio in April 2020.
Interest in Cricket, Marriage to Shloka
Akash Ambani had in March 2019 married his childhood friend, Shloka, who had also studied at the Dhirubhai Ambani school. The two had tied the knot in a grand ceremony attended by Bollywood celebrities and business magnates from around the world.
The couple had welcomed a baby boy, Prithvi, in December 2020.
The cricket enthusiast also owns the team Mumbai Indians with his family, and is actively involved in the activities of the franchise.
Isha Ambani May Be Next in Line for a Promotion
After Akash's appointment on Tuesday, it is widely anticipated that Mukesh will hand over the reins of Reliance's retail business to Isha, 30, who is currently the director of the company.
Isha has completed her graduation in Psychology and South Asian Studies from Yale University, and then her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. She had joined Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail in 2014. Before that, she has worked as a business analyst at Mckinsey in New York.
Alongside Akash, Isha had been part of the teams that had handled the negotiations at the time of Meta's investment in Reliance. Isha had also launched fashion website AJio, which falls under Reliance Retail, at the 2016 Lakme Fashion Week.
Akash and Isha have been on the boards of Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd – the company that operates supermarkets offering consumer electronics, food and grocery, fashion, jewellery, footwear, and clothing, as well as the online retail venture, JioMart – and digital arm Jio Platforms Ltd (JPL) since October 2014.
Ranked second on the 'Youngest Billionaire Heiresses' list by Forbes in 2008, when she was 16, Isha had an estimated net worth of Rs 471 crore. She is married to Anand Piramal, executive director of the Piramal Group, which operates in real estate.
The twins' younger brother, Anant, who is 26, was recently inducted as a director on RRVL. He has been a director on JPL since May 2020.
"I have no doubt that Akash, Isha and Anant as the next gen leaders will lead Reliance to even greater heights," Ambani had said at the Family Day event of Reliance Industries in December 2021.