Lifetime Achievement Award
The nationalist business leader
Henning Holck-Larsen and Soren Kristian Toubro may have founded Larsen & Toubro (L&T) but it was A.M. Naik who built it into a technology powerhouse and one of India’s best known companies through decades of blood, sweat, and tears.
One of the best living examples of professionalism, commitment and entrepreneurship, Mr. Naik belongs to the rare group of business executives who dedicate their lives to the companies they work at.
What was originally a small engineering services company started by two Danish entrepreneurs has become a US$20 billion conglomerate with presence in infrastructure, hydrocarbon, power, heavy engineering, defence, nuclear power, aerospace, technology, and financial services today. The size and composition of L&T today can be credited directly to Mr. Naik who has worked in L&T for over 50 years and led it for the last 20.
After graduating in mechanical engineering from Gujarat, Mr. Naik went to Mumbai to work at Nestor Boilers, before joining his dream company L&T in March 1965 as a junior engineer. He set a record by rising rapidly up the company hierarchy. A workaholic, Mr. Naik is known to have not taken even a single day off for the first 21 years of his career, and he would work for 18 hours a day.
He was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director in 1999 and four years later he became Chairman of the company, the first employee in its history to be appointed to this position. Between 1999 and 2017, L&T’s revenues grew from INR5000 crores to nearly INR1,20,000 crores on a like-for-like basis.
Transparent, courageous and willing to take risks, Mr. Naik has nurtured, protected, and steered L&T to its current position of a global powerhouse. He is widely known to have safeguarded the company’s interests when a large business house attempted to take over the company. He conceptualized the L&T Employees’ Trust, enabling the company to retain its unique character and strengthen the employees’ sense of belonging. He also executed demergers (such as cement) and expansion into new areas such as IT and technology services.
Honoured with Padma Vibhushan in 2019, Mr. Naik has declared that he would give 75% of his income to humanitarian causes. The Naik Charitable Trust for education as well as skill-building and the Nirali Memorial Medical Trust for healthcare are making a difference to the lives of thousands among the disadvantaged.