Culture of Heir Succeeding Family Businesses Must Change: Harsh Mariwala

Harsh Mariwala, founder and chairman of Marico Limited, talks about his book, and India's 'Yes Ma'am culture'.

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Video Producer: Mayank Chawla

Video Editor: Sandeep Suman

The key to running the business is how open you are to learning and eliminating your ego, says Harsh Mariwala, chairman and founder, Marico Limited. In an exclusive conversation with Sanjay Pugalia, editorial director, The Quint, Mariwala talks about his book ‘Harsh Realities’ and more.

What do you mean by the title of the book?

The book is named after me in a way that expresses my name as well as myself. I have seen many failures in my life and learnt from them. The book has useful insight for everyone, including students, professors, entrepreneurs.


What is the story behind the book’s cover?

I wanted people to judge the book by its cover. I approached a woman to specifically design the cover. She read the book for 15 days, studied my personality and brought 5-6 designs to me. Since I am very open and transparent, the book cover reflects something similar. I received positive feedback for the name and cover of the book.

Do you think India has been able to break ‘The Yes Ma’am’ culture?

Praising your bosses every time is not good. Sometimes, your boss can be wrong as well. If the boss is not willing to listen, you will only have ‘Yes Ma’am’. Instead of criticizing, one should give constructive criticism. Indian companies have to go a long way and hierarchy plays a very important role. This has a lot of implications.

Do you think that the age-old businessmen are non-receptive towards youngsters?

The world is changing fast, and we need to learn. At Marico, we have started reverse mentoring. A youngster will have a better skill set than an age-old businessman. The key is how open you are to learning. If you think that you know everything, you will not be able to eliminate your ego. One needs to have a leaning mindset in order to eliminate their ego. You should not have the ‘I know everything’ attitude'.


Is the new generation of businessmen letting go of the family business succession planning?

In India, most businessmen are still succeeded by their heir. Internationally, children inheriting their father’s business has gone down but this trend will take time 10-30 years to change in India. In case of the film industry, there is a lot of nepotism. In the corporate sector, it is important to choose the best person who will take the business forward. The promoter should understand that the company belongs to the shareholders and decisions should be taken in the interest of the firm.

What are the challenges in hiring talented applicants?

There is a huge shortage of good talent. At the same time, the company should have an image to attract good talent. Simultaneously, retention of a talented employee is equally important, and leadership plays an important role here.

How do you sustain your customer’s loyalty?

There are three important things. There should be an emotional connect with your brand. For the same reason, brand investment is very important. Secondly, good quality should be maintained. Thirdly, there should be continuous innovation. A combination of rational buying and emotional connect is very important.

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