Home / News / India /  The biggest regret of Gautam Adani--Here's what billionaire says

Gautam Adani, the richest person in India, recently spoke about his life's biggest regret in an event in Gujarat. Speaking at the 75th-year celebrations of Vidya Mandir Trust Palanpur, Adani became nostalgic about his childhood. The 60-year-old businessman said he quit formal education when he was only 16. In 1978, he took a train to Mumbai to try his luck and three years later he made his first success--a 10,000 commission doing a diamond trade with a Japanese buyer.

However, Gautam Adani said one thing that he regrets about not attending college. "Reflecting on my life and the different turns it took, I - now - do believe that I would have benefitted if I had finished college. While my early experiences made me wise, I now realize that formal education rapidly expands one's knowledge," said Adani. "To acquire wisdom, one must experience but to acquire knowledge, one must study," he added.

"I was just 16 years old when I chose to give up my education and move to Mumbai," he said. "In this context, a question I often get asked is - why did I move to Mumbai and not work with my family? As many youngsters in the audience would agree, the optimism and desire for independence of a teenage boy are hard to contain. All I knew was that - I wanted to do something different - and do it on my own." He bought a train ticket and boarded the Gujarat Mail to Mumbai with not much in his pocket.

"Once in Mumbai, my cousin Prakashbhai Desai enrolled me at Mahendra brothers, where I started to learn to assort diamonds. I quickly picked up the business and after working at Mahendra brothers for about 3 years, I left to start my own brokerage in diamond trading at Zaveri Bazar," he said. "I still recall the day I did my first trade with a Japanese buyer. I made a commission of 10,000".

Speaking about the advantage of the first generation of entrepreneurs, Adani said, "They have nothing to lose. In my own mind, this was liberating. I had no legacy to follow - but I had the opportunity to create a legacy. I had nothing to prove to anybody - but had an opportunity to prove to myself that I could rise. I had nothing to risk by jumping into uncharted waters. I had no expectations to fulfil except those of my own. These beliefs became a part of me," he said.

Adani said when he turned 19, he was called back by his elder brother Mahasukhbhai to help run a small-scale PVC film factory the family had acquired in Ahmedabad.

"We used to procure imported raw materials. It was a tough business. In those days, PVC film manufacturing faced great scarcity of raw materials given all the import restrictions," he said, adding the liberalisation of import policies by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 gave him the first real break.

"While I had no trading experience, I took advantage of the opportunity and moved swiftly to establish a trading organization. We started importing polymers, to supply to the raw-material-deprived small-scale industries. This move laid the initial foundation of the Global Trading Business I was soon to build," he said.

The 1991 liberalisation by the then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao allowed him to move swiftly to establish a full-fledged global trading house dealing in polymers, metals, textiles, and agro products.

"We became the largest global trading house in the country within two years. I had turned 29 and had a full appreciation of the value of two dimensions that would define everything we did -- Scale and Speed," he said.

Till now Adani was primarily focused on trading. And in 1994, he listed Adani Exports, which is now called Adani Enterprises.

Yet another opportunity came in 1995 when the Gujarat government decided to develop its coastline.

"It was around this same time that the global commodities trader Cargill approached us with a proposal to source the salt produced across the Kutch coastline," he said. "To cut a long, interesting story short, the partnership did not proceed. But we were left with about 40,000 acres of marshy land to harvest salt and approval to build a captive jetty at Mundra for the export of salt."

He then built a full-fledged commercial port in Mundra, Gujarat. "And the rest is history," he said.

The billionaire's phenomenal journey has made his group the world's largest solar power company, the largest airport and seaport operator in India, the nation's largest integrated energy player, the country's second-largest cement manufacturer, and a conglomerate with a market capitalisation of over $225 billion -- all in a span of four-and-a-half decades.

Asia's richest person said that the Adani group is just one manifestation of India's entrepreneur success story, and added that he firmly believes that the country holds the potential to build 100 Adani Groups. Further, the industrialist said that there could be no better place than India to be an entrepreneur at present. The business tycoon said India will be a land of massive opportunities over the next 30 years and this is the time to dream big.

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