The (Em)Power List 2018: Radhika Piramal
40, Business Person
If risk-taking is a prerequisite for success, then no one can stop the inimitable Radhika Piramal. Having successfully tackled a host of firsts in a personal as well as professional capacity, she is one of the country’s only openly homosexual corporate leaders. Although the coming out was unplanned, outed as she was by a city publication the month after her same-sex marriage in London in 2011, today she looks at the episode as a favour. She has worked hard to create awareness by using her platform as a public figure; she is consistently vocal about rights as well as workplace policies that can give the LGBTQ community their due while pushing back against regressive laws and social perceptions. In the Indian context, Piramal feels that being gay remains a huge taboo which makes it imperative for family, friends and the workplace to be accepting and supportive. The scion of the Piramal family is clearly a path-breaker and this is evident in how she has single-handedly turned VIP Industries around by modernising the VIP tag. The ex-managing director of India’s largest luggage maker is credited with breathing fresh life into a struggling brand that was way past its heyday, just as she is commended for her efforts to update an outdated belief system in a country and community that are both known to be traditional in their outlook. After acquiring a degree in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University, Piramal worked for three years as brand manager of VIP Industries, till she left to pursue an MBA at Harvard in 2004. Working her way up, she moved on to the post of the executive director and finally managing director only in 2010. Piramal effortlessly added portfolios like Caprese and Skybags, revamped the entire team, created a strong physical as well as virtual presence and injected a new cool look and feel to position the company as not just a trusty but also an aspirational brand. Since she will now be shuttling between London (where she and her spouse have recently moved) and Mumbai, she has resigned from the post of MD. She now holds the posts of vice chairperson and executive director of the company.
“Radhika Piramal is emblematic of assertion, achievement and gender empowerment and I think she is fighting the good fight. Her authenticity both in her openly gay stance and efforts to establish the organisation way beyond entitlement is so refreshing! Real badass!”
– Ipshita Nandi Banerjee, 35, Strategic Communications Specialist, Hyderabad