Reliance unveils the new-age AGM

R Anand | Updated on July 17, 2020

Firm grip: On all aspects of his business

Flawlessly executed, the July 15 AGM via virtual mode was big on coverage, content, and granular details

Around 5.5 lakh people across 473 cities and covering 41 countries attended the virtual AGM of Reliance Industries Ltd on July 15. It was not only a record of sorts but catapulted the Reliance saga to a different orbit.

For someone who had attended dreary and boring AGMs in the 1980s and 1990s in old and dilapidated halls, attending the Reliance AGM via the virtual mode was more than a dream coming true.

Never in the history of India has one company transformed the way the ordinary citizen looks at a corporate institution, and that is with admiration, awe and disbelief.

The Reliance story is not about numbers alone. It is about the supreme confidence of one individual — Mukesh Ambani.

Corporate India has seen ups and downs of different sorts but the Reliance story will be discussed in business schools all over the world purely on the bedrock of — what to promise and how to deliver.

The July 15 AGM proceedings will be talked about for years to come for the meticulous planning, flawless technology and ruthless execution.

The 360 degree coverage

The coverage and content of various businesses at the AGM was a crisp account of what is happening in each of the verticals with granular details as required.

From digital to oil and chemicals, from retail to media it was succinctly put. Here was the Chairman standing and addressing around half a million people on each of his business with complete grip on what was happening and the future plans on each of the verticals.

There is an old saying that the top most person should manage the macro and leave the details to the team.

It was amply clear that Mukesh Ambani was in full control of every aspect of all his businesses. His speech was loaded with facts and details were presented in a manner that the entire 1.3 billion Indians would understand without checking with anybody — what was he saying? He reiterated that all his initiatives are directed to the entire population of India.

He was transparent about the much talked about Reliance-Aramco deal which was called off and did explain the reasons for the same.

But then he did have a plan B and plan C in place? This represents the foresight and the smartness of a successful entrepreneur who can think 4/5 steps ahead of the rest. One could not miss out Mukesh’s desire and goal of involving start-ups in various pockets of his business. This provides the needed support system for young entrepreneurs starting their venture.

Icing on the cake

The icing on the cake was the brief but impactful speeches of Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai explaining the logic and rationale of their investments into Reliance Jio. Who would have imagined that these two stalwarts would be part of a Reliance AGM and talking to all the shareholders?

Mukesh did mention how Reliance will be in 2027 — who knows, the size of his balance sheet probably will be larger than the GDP of several countries put together. The icing was provided by the three young scions representing the next generation — Akash, Isha and Kiran.

There is always a feeling that family businesses will not progress beyond three generations, but this may not apply here. Family businesses in India are used to what is called defensive grooming and initiation into businesses with a regimented timetable approach for X number of years in shop-floor, Y number of years in the market, and so on. Here, the youngsters were thrown in front of the 5.5 lakh audience!

There are some key takeaways from the July 15 spectacle. First and foremost, AGMs are not about routine reporting to shareholders but announcing to the world at large the intent and delivery of each of the initiatives announced.

Second, corporates have to integrate businesses with last mile connectivity which Reliance has demonstrated.

Lastly, the message sent out was loud and clear — youngsters have to be pushed to take on the mantle.

The million dollar question is how many companies can take a leaf out of Reliance’s book and follow suit.

The writer is a chartered accountant

Published on July 17, 2020

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