Ajay Piramal, chairman of the Piramal Group that has a presence in pharmaceuticals, healthcare information management and financial services, makes a surprise pick when asked to choose a book that truly inspired him.
Piramal, who created one of the largest diversified companies by his contrarian approach, selects the Bhagavad Gita, part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
Written by sage Veda Vyasa, the Bhagavad Gita is a synthesis of various philosophies, where charioteer Krishna counsels prince Arjun to fulfil his duties as a warrior.
The Bhagavad Gita, Piramal says, covers all aspects of leadership and management. “Verses in Bhagavad Gita teach you to perform your action well and the results will follow. This is not just a concept. You will not be always successful,” he says, and adds that these verses can help you deal with stress.
Piramal recalls how the concept of giving the best without bothering too much about results helped him. Piramal entered the unfamiliar territory of pharmaceuticals in 1988 by acquiring Nicholas Laboratories Ltd for Rs.1.6 crore at a time when most multinational drug makers were exiting India. The payback came 22 years later when, in 2010, US-based Abbott Laboratories bought his Indian branded generics business for $3.72 billion in a blockbuster deal that valued the unit at nine times annual sales and 30 times profit.
“Bhagavad Gita also teaches about fearlessness and courage, principles that distinguish leaders from others. It also teaches about trusteeship and humility. It also teaches you not to grieve over losses,” Piramal says.