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CNBC-TV18’s 17th IBLA jury meets; business leaders present their vision for 2022

Driving forward the theme ‘Navigating 2022: Chasing the Recovery’, the meeting brought together several CEOs to discuss, with CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan, what the year holds amidst the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic

CNBC-TV18 has marked the 17th run of its business awards, The India Business Leaders Awards (IBLA) 2022 with a meeting of its high-profile jury. The jury deliberated on over 40 companies, personalities and entities to try and determine the outstanding achievers across over 13 categories.

The deliberations were held on the basis of not only the usual quantitative criteria, but qualitative markers including nimbleness, endurance, fortitude, inspirational quotient, strategic sagacity and sheer grit in the face of overarching adversity through 2021, and what it will take to tackle everything 2022 could throw up.

The jury discussion was centred on the theme “Navigating 2022: Chasing The Recovery”, the conversation also veered into areas that included growth with compassion, nurturing a culture of agility and innovation, moving towards net zero (carbon emission).

Chaired by Laxman Narasimhan, Global CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, the jury of the CNBC-TV18 India Business Leader Awards 2022 included Uday Kotak, MD and CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank; Suresh Narayanan, CMD, Nestle India; Zarin Daruwala, Cluster CEO - India & South Asia markets (Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka), Standard Chartered Bank; Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Founder & Executive Vice-Chairman, Info Edge (naukri.com); Salil Parekh, CEO, Infosys; Munish Varma, Managing Partner, SoftBank; and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon & Biocon Biologics.

Jury Chair Narasimhan, CEO, Reckitt Benckiser, said he was “widely optimistic” about how corporate houses, policymakers, and various stakeholders would respond to the challenges and opportunities 2022 would offer, saying, “I know that 2022 will be tough, but we would certainly do better.” 

Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC-TV18, said, “CNBC-TV18 India Business Leader Awards are our way of recognising leaders who make an impact. Over the last 17 years, the IBLA jury has followed a rigorous process of assessment and debate to arrive at the winners. The IBLA platform is not just an awards show, it is also a platform for thought leadership. The jury this year shared insights on the ‘new next and never normal’ and what that means for the economy and business in a post-pandemic world. Inflation was identified as the number risk that could derail the fragile economic recovery”

Kotak commented on the outlook on inflation trajectory and the idea that higher interest rates and hawkish central banks would become de rigueur. He said, “I am of the camp that there will be steady increase in interest rates, but it is possible for the economy to grow.”

Daruwala said “We have seen government’s Debt-to-GDP go up, so the next 1-2 years will be about how governments manage the fiscal deficit as well as how they use monetary policy to ensure that growth is enabled.”

The jury was also eloquent on how a recalibration of fiscal and monetary policy measures to balance outgrowth with liquidity and other macro-economic indicators would automatically point to a redrawing of the global commercial and economic landscape, a shake-up of the status quo, and a rearranging of the totem pole.

Speaking on the impact of rising interest rates, Varma of SoftBank said, “Capital will get expensive, and valuations of private companies will get recalibrated as interest rates go up and liquidity tightens. However, businesses with strong fundamentals will receive capital.” 

Bikhchandani, Founder, Info Edge, added, “Late-stage investors who find options in USA much cheaper could end up taking money away from India. Investors will get a bit more selective and discerning. Start-ups will have to work harder and smarter to increase value and get more funding.”

Kotak added, “Fuzzy money or fizzy money will not last, investors who do their homework well shall continue to grow”.  Speaking on areas sparking growth, Parekh, CEO, Infosys, said, “This approach of converting all of the activity to a digital activity is going to drive the next phase of growth across the world.”

Narayanan, CMD, Nestle called for introspection by companies and emphasised on the importance of investing more in work culture, as he believes that “if companies were to invest more in culture than CAPEX, we would have a lot more better-run companies.”

Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon, said she wants to see India grow from 4% of value capture in the global pharma market, to upwards of 15%.  Further, she said that this can be achieved by investing in innovation and in R&D; and added that to this end she has been engaging with the Government to explore the possibility of the PLI scheme, given the high gestational periods, and high-risk investments involved in the pharma industry.

Summing up the discussion, Narasimhan reiterated the need for a strong focus on company culture that will bring about the strengths desired for safe passage through the pandemic.

The complete jury deliberations on “Navigating 2022: Chasing The Recovery” was aired on CNBC-TV18 at 6 pm, on January 29, 2022.

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