I am sure when she took over as the executive chairperson of Thermax in 1996 after her husband Rohinton Aga passed away; there would have been cynics who would have questioned her ability to run the company.
In fact, Aga took over at a difficult time, just as an economic slowdown was beginning to set in. Sales as well as profits started dipping at Thermax. This meant taking tough decisions. Thermax had to exit non-core businesses and simultaneously, it started laying off employees something unheard of during Rohinton Agas days. The initiatives slowly started paying off and by 2001, Thermax had turned around. Today it is one of Indias leading corporates, with a turnover of over Rs 2,600 crore.
Also on the principle of sustainable solutions in energy and environment, Thermax has developed energy-efficient and eco-friendly solutions for industry and commerce. For over three decades, Thermax has been helping customers improve their processes, conserve energy, increase their competitiveness and adhere to environmental norms, which is commendable.
After handing over the reins of Thermax to her daughter Meher Pudumjee, Anu Aga is leading a philanthropic retired life where she spends lots of her time discussing projects with Akanksha, an organisation that educates poor children in Mumbai and Pune. Only thing I can add is that hers has been a life where every moment has been put to good use. She is a rare breed, a serene personality with a steel backbone that is covered
in silk. It is believed that Indian businesswomen have traditionally reached the top either through family connections or government service. But the new economy, with its flexible structures and ethos of meritocracy, is providing an important avenue of advancement for women of talent and determination. Reflecting the growing stature of the urban Indian woman, managers like Anu Aga and success stories like Thermax represent a new face of the modern Indian corporate world.
The author is director, Welspun Retail Ltd.