Stay humble, learn on the job: N Chandra and Harsh Mariwala received the best advice in life from their respective fathers

Dad’s the word for two stalwarts of the business world — FMCG giant Marico Chairman Harsh Mariwala and salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran.

Apart from being achievers in their fields, the other uniting thread between the two is that they have each received the best advice in their life from their respective fathers.

Sharing the pearls of wisdom on the stage at the Ascent Conclave 2022 in Mumbai on Thursday, Mariwala  spoke of the time he failed to get into an MBA course in India and wanted to go abroad and study further. “My father said no. It’s better you spend time in the business because it’s nothing short of learning in business. That forced me to learn a lot and I tried much, much harder to learn. A lot of that learning from the bottom up has played an important role in my own journey,” Mariwala said.

The Founder-Chairman, who comes from a business family, not only built Marico into one of the leading FMCG companies in the country over the past four decades but has also transformed what was essentially a family-managed business into a professionally managed one.

For his part, Chandrasekaran said his father, very happy with the way he was progressing in his career, told him: “You are doing incredibly well, and God has been kind to you. The only thing I’ll tell you is, be humble, always,” he said.

Apart from chairing the board of Tata Sons, which is the holding company and promoter of more than 100 Tata operating companies with aggregate annual revenues of more than US $100 billion, Chandrasekaran also chairs the boards of several group operating companies, including Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Power, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

The lifelong Tata employee, Chandra, as he is popularly known, rose from being an intern at TCS in 1987 to become the software services exporter’s youngest CEO in 2009 and eventually the Chairman of the more than 150-year-old salt-to-software conglomerate in 2017 after the unceremonious ouster of the now-late Cyrus Mistry. He has now been re-appointed to the post for another five years.