‘Our employees are the most important part in any business’

‘The competition with a rival company’s products have nothing to do with money.’
‘Money is a vehicle up to a certain point. When you are not doing well financially, then you need some money for a house, a car and education.’
‘But money is the means. The aim should be to make the difference in the society you live in.’

Harsh Mariwala, founder of the Rs 80 billion Marico Group, has a formidable reputation as a businessman.

With a wide range of products from Parachute hair oil to Saffola cooking oil, he has entered the legend of marketing successes.

Those in family-run businesses will find his memoir Harsh Realities, co-authored with the management guru Ram Charan, unputdownable as it explains his journey of turning a traditionally run company into a professionally run entity.

This conversation with Rediff.com Senior Contributor Sheela Bhatt is a must read for Harsh Mariwala’s many insights on business, money and life.

Family Run Businesses Versus Professional Management

You have to look at the long term perpetuity of the business.

I gave up my own multi-million company partly because of age, and partly because you needed some new blood to steer.

If you don’t do succession planning and something happens to me, then the whole organisation can fall apart.

Ultimately, you have to marry what your and your family’s interests are versus what your organisation needs.

Of course you are passionate, you are involved in the company that you created. But, ultimately it boils down to the fact that okay, I cannot continue forever.

No person can continue forever and the organisation has to continue, so even if I am passionate about it, I don’t need to do it on my own, I need to select a person who is better than me.

And that’s what I have tried to do by selecting a CEO who has entrepreneur instincts as well as thinks like an owner.

The market cap of Marico has gone up four times in the last seven years after he (Marico MD Saugata Gupta) has taken over.

On Developing Human Resources

I converted the business from unbranded to branded and that was only done by employing good people and trusting them fully.

I have a whole chapter in my book in terms of culture building.

I built my businesses with the help of people.

Our employees are the most important part in any business.

To get success in business one should know how to create and attract talent and how to retain it.

Why Money Is Not Important

There is value for money. Just because you have money doesn’t mean you have to go on spending all the money.

You have to make an impact, make a different to others’s lives. That is what motivates me rather than money because what am I going to do with the money? I am not going to take it up with me.

I travel simply even if I have to go to Dubai. I don’t splurge money. I don’t travel first class, I don’t have a private plane, though I have that option and I can easily afford it. I don’t have those kind of so-called trappings of the very rich though I can afford it.

The key thing to realise is that money is a vehicle, but you have to make a difference in people’s lives, you have to give back something to society not only financially, but in terms of the time that you have spent.

I doesn’t have a desire to make money. I have a desire to use money to make a difference to others.

Ultimately, the aim should be to raise money, make money and you can give something back.

You are actually a trustee of profits. It is not your money, so you have to give something back. Mr Azim Premji is doing exactly that. He is very rich, but he gives most of his wealth back to society.

I may not be giving as much as Mr Premji, but I am inclined more towards that kind of life rather than spending all my money because I have the money.

When you are in tough market competition you fight to make an impact, it is not the hunger for money.

The competition with a rival company’s products have nothing to do with money.

You want to bring about change. Money is a vehicle up to a certain point. When you are not doing well financially, then you need some money for a house, a car and education.

But money is the means. The aim should be to make the difference in the society you live in.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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