Sunil Bharti Mittal
An entrepreneurial game-changer and a dreamer with a global vision, chairman and Group CEO of Bharti Enterprises, Sunil Bharti Mittal is a first generation entrepreneur. A powerful strategic thinker with excellent business sense, he has created Bharti Airtel where entrepreneurial innovation, customer centricity, performance excellence and ethical governance are a way of life. A value-based individual who is driven by passion and inspires people to dream big, Mittal, demonstrates traits of a complete leader for achieving competitive advantage and building a global telecom giant.
Sunil Bharti Mittal dared to redefine the age-old telecom model and emerged as a winner. His new approach of co-partnership and virtual integration are unique approaches in the telecom sector. The quantum growth that Bharti Airtel has witnessed in little more than a decade has been possible only because of the high passion and round-the-clock alertness of Sunil Mittal to take advantage of every opportunity that came his way. The man reeks of excellence in every task he takes, which percolates through all levels in the organisation. This ensures that every Bharti Airtel employee works with a belief of performance excellence, making the Airtel brand a global Goliath.
The group flagship Bharti Airtel has operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa and a customer base of over 275 million. It is India’s largest telecom company and the world’s fourth largest mobile operator. Bharti Airtel clocked revenues of over USD 14.5 billion in FY 2013. He also served on the Prime Minister of India’s Council on Trade & Industry, World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, Telecom Board of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Commissioner of the Broadband Commission, and the Singapore Prime Minister’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council. He had been appointed by the Prime Minister of India as co-chair of the India-Africa Business Council and India-Sri Lanka CEO Forum as well as member of the India-US, India-UK and India-Japan CEO forums. Earlier, he served as the president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII in 2007-08), the premier industry body in India.
Soon after his graduation from Punjab University, Mittal started his first business in 1976 with a capital investment of INR 20,000 borrowed from his father and started a bicycle manufacturing business in Ludhiana with his friend. Later, he moved on to Mumbai where he became an exclusive dealer for Suzuki Motors in the business of selling portable generators imported from Japan but when the government banned the import of gen-sets, he entered in the business of manufacturing electronic push button phones in 1986 through a tie-up with Siemens AG- a German company. He then expanded his business by introducing cordless phones, fax machines and telecom related products. In 1995, Sunil Mittal launched Bharti Cellular Limited under the brand name Airtel and in 2006, he made a joint-venture with US retail giant Wal-Mart and has established a number of retail stores all over India.
He has received numerous awards including the Global Economy Prize 2009 by The Kiel Institute of Germany and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. He has also been awarded the INSEAD Business Leader for the World Award 2011 and the NDTV Profit Business Leadership Award 2011 for “Corporate Conscience”. The US-India Business Council also honoured him with the ‘Global Vision’ Award in the year 2008. He has received the GSM Association Chairman’s Award in 2008 and he is also a member of the ‘Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs’ of Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts.
A belief that a responsible corporate has the duty to give back to the community in which it operates, Mittal has also been working towards educating India through the Bharti Foundation. It is the philanthropic arm of the Bharti Group. The foundation has established over 254 schools in villages across India and offers free quality education with free books, uniforms and mid-day meals to poor children. He was ranked among the ‘Top 25 Philanthropists in the World’ in 2009 by the Barron’s Magazine.