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Nita Ambani most powerful businesswoman in Asia

April 07, 2016 11:38 IST

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani with wife Nita Ambani at the company's annual shareholders' meeting in Mumbai.

IMAGE: Forbes describes Nita Ambani (seen here with husband Mukesh Ambani) as first lady of Indian business. Photograph: PTI Photo

'Women are best positioned to know what it will take to get more of them into commanding roles in the workforce and keep them there'.

Reliance Foundation Chairperson Nita Ambani has been named the most powerful businesswoman in Asia by Forbes, leading a list of 50 women leaders from the region that includes eight from India.

SBI chairperson

IMAGE: SBI Chairman and Managing Director Arundhati Bhattacharya has been ranked second on the 2016 'Asia's 50 Power Businesswomen' list. Photograph: PTI Photo

SBI Chairman and Managing Director Arundhati Bhattacharya has been ranked second on the 2016 'Asia's 50 Power Businesswomen' list that features trailblazing women from China, Indonesia, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and New Zealand.

Ambiga Dhiraj

IMAGE: Ambiga Dhiraj became the first female boss of an Indian-owned tech unicorn when she took over as CEO of Mu Sigma. Photograph: Kind courtesy, Mu Sigma

Apart from Ambani and Bhattacharya, six women from India have made to the list, including Mu Sigma CEO Ambiga Dhiraj (14), Welspun India CEO Dipali Goenka (16), Lupin CEO Vinita Gupta (18), ICICI Bank Managing Director & CEO Chanda Kochhar (22), VLCC Health Care Founder and vice chairman Vandana Luthra (26) and Biocon Founder, Chairman & Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (28).

Dipali Goenka

IMAGE: Dipali Goenka took charge of home textiles maker Welspun India (part of her family's $3 billion in revenue Welspun Group) five years ago. Photograph: Via Twitter

The list acknowledges the "inroads women are making in the business world but gender inequality persists.

“Women are best positioned to know what it will take to get more of them into commanding roles in the workforce and keep them there," Forbes said.

Vinita Gupta

IMAGE: Lupin CEO Vinita Gupta runs India's third-largest pharmaceutical company, with $2 billion in revenue. Photograph: Rediff Archives

Describing her as the "first lady of Indian business", Forbes said Ambani, 52, is a "power near the throne" and makes her debut on the list because of her rising profile in Reliance Industries, led by her husband and India's richest man Mukesh Ambani.

"In a country where billionaire wives tend to remain in the shadow of their husbands, Nita's rising profile in the Reliance empire is unusual and earns her a debut spot," on the power businesswomen ranking this year, Forbes said of Ambani, who is also Director of Reliance Industries.

Chhanda Kochhar

IMAGE: Chanda Kochhar, 54, a regular on power lists, launched the 'iWork@home' programme. Photograph: PTI Photo

On Bhattacharya, 60, Forbes said she is facing her "most challenging test" yet with the State Bank of India as it grapples with mounting bad loans, which stood at $11 billion in December and caused net profit to plunge more than 60 per cent to $190 million in a recent quarter.    

Dhiraj, 40, became the first female boss of an Indian-owned tech unicorn when she took over as CEO of Mu Sigma, a provider of data-analytics services, from husband

Dhiraj Rajaram, who founded the firm in 2004.

Vandana Luthra

IMAGE: Vandana Luthra pioneered the concept of a beauty and wellness chain in India. Photograph: PTI Photo

Goenka, 46, took charge of home textiles maker Welspun India (part of her family's $3 billion in revenue Welspun Group) five years ago.

Goenka said when she assumed her role, the buzz in the male-dominated industry was: "Welspun has lost its mind."

"Goenka has doubled down to disprove that. Revenue and earnings are up severalfold, with net profit of $81 million on revenue of $790 million in the year ended March 2015," Forbes said.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

IMAGE: Mazumdar-Shaw, a ‘self-made’ leader, has positioned Biocon as a large player in insulin. Photograph: Reuters

Gupta, 48, runs India's third-largest pharmaceutical company, with $2 billion in revenue.

In the past year she has spearheaded $1.2 billion in acquisitions, the biggest of which was the $880 million purchase of Gavis Pharma, giving Lupin its first manufacturing facility in the US, a market that contributes nearly half its total revenue, Forbes said.

Kochhar, 54, a regular on power lists, launched the 'iWork@home' programme that allows employees to work from home for a year, part of her plan to retain female staff.

However ‘as boss of the country's largest private-sector lender, Kochhar has to contend with the current bane of India's banking system: bad loans,’ Forbes said.

Luthra, 56 pioneered the concept of a beauty and wellness chain in India, the publication said.

Mazumdar-Shaw, 63, a ‘self-made’ leader, has positioned Biocon as a large player in insulin, it added.

Yoshita Singh in New York
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