This list has 5 top female Indian business tycoons. A few years ago when any one talked about women in Indian business, the only name prominent enough to be mentioned was perhaps that of Indra Nooyi (the CEO of PepsiCo). But that was a long time back. Indian women are now fast making a mark in all forms of businesses. Media, banking, education, financial services or manufacturing, nearly all sectors have a woman on top. Female entrepreneurs too, are on a rise in India, and it is difficult to ignore them. We haven’t mentioned Ekta Kapoor because the women in this list have actually made a difference in the lives of families. Below are the hardworking smart professional women who have transformed everything they touched into gold.
At the age of ten Priya Paul was clear that eventually she would be an entrepreneur, but her entry into the hotel industry was a decision made by the family; a fortuitous selection out of their portfolio of shipping, tea, real estate and construction, hospitality and financial services. She did complete justice to it by joining the Park Hotel, Delhi, after completing her BA in Economics at Wellesley College, in 1988. Her contributions in the field of hospitality have been repeatedly recognized and she has received several awards and citations, including the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award (1999–2000) conferred by the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India. One of the five famous female Indian business tycoons, Priya was also nominated for The Economic Times Awards as the Businessperson of the year (2002–2003) and was honoured with the Padma Sri on the eve of the Republic Day, January 2012.
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She founded the Gopikrishna Piramal Memorial Hospital in 1983 – a charitable hospital with services for the under-privileged – out-patient clinic to free diabetes and hypertension treatment for the needy. She has also co-authored ‘Eat your Way to Good Health’ with Mrs. Tarla Dalal. An article in the Business Week called Dr. Piramal one of “India’s most charismatic leaders with a passion for Indian science“. She has been nominated in the Hall of Fame as one of the most powerful women in India in 2011. And all this because she has contributed towards innovations in Public Health Services and other projects, which if we start to list, will hardly leave us enough space for anyone else.
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A big name among female Indian business tycoons, Kiran is the Chairman & Managing Director of Biocon Limited a biotechnology company based in Bangalore (Bengaluru), India. Her humble beginnings were in joining Biocon Biochemicals Limited, of Cork, Ireland, in 1978, as a Trainee Manager and in the same year she starting Biocon in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore with a seed capital of Rs. 10,000. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is responsible for steering Biocon on a trajectory of growth and innovation over the years. Within a year of its inception, Biocon became the first Indian company to manufacture and export enzymes to USA and Europe. In 1989, Biocon became the first Indian biotech company to receive US funding for proprietary technologies. In 2004, Shaw decided to access the capital markets to develop Biocon’s pipeline of research programs. Biocon’s IPO was oversubscribed 32 times and it’s first day at the bourses closed with a market value of $1.11 billion, making Biocon only the second Indian company to cross the $1-billion mark on the first day of listing.
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Long before the expression ‘dealmaker’ became commonplace in India, 54-year-old Naina Lal Kidwai, currently country head of HSBC, was one of the biggest dealmakers in the country. She was also one of the first women to enter the formerly male bastion of investment banking and rise spectacularly. Her other positions include being a non-executive director on the board of Nestle SA, Chairwoman, City of London’s Advisory Council for India, Global Advisor, Harvard Business School. Kidwai has repeatedly ranked in the Fortune global list of Top Women in Business, 12th in the Wall Street Journal 2006 Global Listing of Women to Watch, and listed by Time Magazine as one of their 15 Global Influentials, 2002.
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She is currently the Managing Director (MD) of ICICI Bank and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). ICICI Bank is India’s largest private bank and overall second largest bank in the country. She also heads the Corporate Centre of ICICI Bank making her a strong name in the list of top female Indian business tycoons. Under Kochhar’s leadership, ICICI Bank won the “Best Retail Bank in India” award in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005 and “Excellence in Retail Banking Award” in 2002; both awards was given by The Asian Banker. Chanda Kochhar was awarded “Retail Banker of the Year 2004 (Asia-Pacific region)” by the Asian Banker, “Business Woman of the Year 2005” by The Economic Times and “Rising Star Award” at Global Awards 2006 by Retail Banker International. Her responsibilities at the bank include managing the global treasury, principal investments & trading, risk management and legal functions and also guidance on day to day administrative matters.
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