Congratulations Priyavrata Mafatlal from Mafatlal Industries Limited for winning the title of ‘Family Office Personality of the Year’ At the Family Office Awards 2022. Presented By Franklin Templeton India
Vice chairman of the 118-year-old Arvind Mafatlal Group, managing director of Mafatlal Industries Limited (one of India’s oldest textile companies) and executive director of NOCIL Limited (India’s largest manufacturer and supplier of rubber chemicals), Priyavrata Mafatlal is a fifth-generation entrepreneur with his mind set on ensuring legacy and spearheading change through alternative growth strategies.
Under Priyavrata’s leadership, the Arvind Mafatlal Group has expanded into EdTech, health and hygiene and the information technology space. Additionally, he is a successful angel investor and has added significant value to the start-up eco-system in India.
Ahead of chairing Campden Family Connect’s Indian Family Alternative Investment Forum on Tuesday, August 23, Priyavrata talks exclusively to Campden FB about diversifying into alternative investments, honouring legacy and the advice he’d give his younger self.
“We understand that alternative investment as an asset class is extremely risky, but it also offers that additional financial alpha.”
The theme of this year’s Indian Family Alternative Investment Forum is ‘Exploring new-age alternatives’, what was the thinking behind your own family office’s decision to diversify into alternative investments?
Alternative Investment as an asset class has always formed a part of our core portfolio, albeit with limited exposure. Coming from an entrepreneurial background, we believe in taking risks and venturing into challenging territories. We do understand that alternative investment as an asset class is extremely risky (as compared to other opportunities) and is relatively illiquid, but it also offers that additional financial alpha. Additionally, one of the biggest intangible advantages of participating in this asset class is that it offers some great insights from different entrepreneurs, their experiences, learnings, journey and so on.
You come from an 118-year-old multi-generational family, how important is adaptability and open-mindedness to alternative investments to your continuing success?
Without open-mindedness and adaptability, individuals or organisations struggle to grow and thrive successfully. Today since alternatives as an asset class allows us to work very closely with the founders and entrepreneurs, we end up getting a lot of exposure to new-age ideas and innovations. But the Arvind Mafatlal Group has been around for more than a century because of our need for constant innovation and us wanting to push our abilities to constantly adapt to newer businesses, techniques and opportunities. While the term ‘Alternative investments’ has picked momentum in the past 10-12 years, the group has always aggressively looked at diversification, often as first-movers, into areas which may or may not even be close to our core businesses. Invariably, as a group, we have always participated, directly or indirectly, in the alternatives asset class and we will continue to support the entire eco-system.
“In a flowing river, there’s no such thing as floating – we either swim upstream or the current will take us downstream.”
As vice chairman of the Arvind Mafatlal Group and managing director of Mafatlal Industries Limited, one of India’s oldest textile companies, how do you balance honouring legacy with keeping an open mind on new opportunities?
In a flowing river, there’s no such thing as floating – we either swim upstream or the current will take us downstream. I look at legacy as a responsibility and opportunity to build on from, rather than sit back comfortably and get bound by older methods and ways of doing business. Taking risks by entering newer opportunities has been a strong component in the group’s DNA and philosophy which I have inherited. While the group continues to remain synonymous with textiles and rubber chemicals, in the past five years alone we have forayed into EdTech, industrial laundry and dry cleaning, health and hygiene and IT solutions to name a few. It’s also very important to surround ourselves with the right people, both internally and externally, who help in constantly spotting and identifying upcoming trends and megatrends.
What would you advise to family offices looking to get into alternative investments, such as crypto or digital assets, but don’t know where to start?
While crypto and digital assets are still at a very nascent stage, not only in India but globally, this industry is picking up quite rapidly and cannot be ignored. The environment is constantly evolving in terms of business and product fit, regulatory frameworks, stakeholders being divided upon the taxability and so on. So when we have so many moving pieces and very limited experience, it becomes really difficult for family offices to pick the right companies in this space, and, in such situations, it’s always better to participate through a fund structure rather than taking direct exposure in any company. We believe these fund managers are closely watching this space and its best to rely on their assessment until we build confidence and expertise.
You were recently awarded ‘Family Office Personality of the Year’, how does it feel being the face of not only your own family but also held up as a paragon of doing right?
It obviously feels nice when the world recognises you for your efforts, but leadership is earned, it’s not a right. We believe that we carry a lot of responsibility in every action or decision we take and, for us, ethics and governance is always at the forefront. The group’s ethos is “Ethics of excellence” and we are always mindful of the fact that we carry a rich legacy which needs to be preserved – nothing is more valuable to us than the trust of our stakeholders. So in every business dealing, we put the right heart and mind at work considering the larger responsibility that we carry and we owe this success to the blessings of our forefathers.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t take life so seriously. Work and career is important but ensure finding time for health, family and friends and oneself. Travel when you can, it builds perspective. Be bold, be brave and don’t shy away from taking decisions – trust yourself. There are no right or wrong decisions, if we choose to learn from the outcomes of that decision. Acknowledge life’s ups and downs and enjoy the ride.
For further information on Campden Family Connect’s Indian Family Alternative Investment Forum, running on Tuesday, August 23, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NFTICALLY, a global Web3 E-Commerce platform, has partnered with Mafatlal Industries Limited (part of the Arvind Mafatlal Group) a leading manufacturer and supplier of textiles, garments and uniforms, for their first virtual gallery and NFT store on the metaverse platform, COMEARTH. The design collection features six distinct NFTs for school, hospital and corporate uniforms using 3D models for an enhanced immersive experience, making Mafatlal Industries the forerunner in the textile space.
The Mafatlal NFT collection is set up on COMEARTH, an e-commerce metaverse platform powered by NFTICALLY. With this collaboration, Mafatlal Industries, a household name with over 118 years of experience and legacy in the Indian textile industry, aims to gain the first-mover advantage in its category to enter the NFT ecosystem.
NFT drops are technologically complex processes involving various challenges like Smart Contracts, Traffic Management, Security and Backend Streamlining. NFTICALLY’s global benchmarked technology ensures smoothening out of the process for collectors and creators selling their digital assets as NFTs. Presently, over 11,000 stores are powered by NFTICALLY, making it one of the largest and most preferred NFT marketplaces for creators and collectors. NFTICALLY recently launched its e-commerce metaverse platform, COMEARTH, which aims to build an ecosystem of various stakeholders to generate value through engagement or transactions.
Talking about the collaboration, Toshendra Sharma, Founder and CEO, NFTICALLY said, “NFTICALLY takes pride in itself on powering Mafatlal Industries for the NFT drop, a first for a reputed Indian textile brand. Enabling Mafatlal’s NFTs on the Web3 ecosystem will boost engagement between the brand and the young audience.”
Priyavrata Mafatlal, Vice Chairman of The Arvind Mafatlal Group said, “We are thrilled to have partnered with NFTICALLY. Having a century long legacy and experience, we believe in pushing our boundaries and being innovative and creative in every aspect of our business. With NFTICALLY’s COMEARTH, we hope to reach out to a larger set of audience.”
Since the time of the lockdown, I have had the privilege of conversing with many people. Below you will find a few of the common questions which many people have been asking.
1. How will life be post lockdown?
Life will be very different post lock down due to rise in level of uncertainty across the world. Since the outbreak of the virus, 22 million people have filed for unemployment aid and as per economists this number could rise further. It might even cross the number USA experienced during the Great Depression in the 1930’s. With USA getting affected in this manner, it will have an impact on many other countries who have huge dependency on the United States of America. In addition the entire value chain of industries which have been affected will also be impacted. The good thing is many people are getting used to living a life with bare minimum, the only priority for many individuals is food and water, until now I believe many of us were living a life in which the focus was on accumulation, at times we accumulated things which we rarely used.
Experience of living through the lockdown phase has come with many important lessons. Cash both at an individual level and at an organization level is becoming number one priority. At an organizational level, committees are being put in place for sanctioning even small amount of expenditure. From economy’s perspective consumption will be affected as more people will be conservative than ever before due to uncertainty of jobs, also due to fear this virus might come back again. Even people who are sitting on good amount of cash would take decisions after good amount of risk assessment. Saving as much cash as possible will be the only priority for most of the population. Many will achieve this by shifting focus from unnecessary expenditure to only what is required or necessary. However, individuals and organizations with innovative and open mindset would be able to survive and thrive even in this situation depending on the industry. Many people will also learn to practice gratitude as they will be more appreciative of what they have vs. what they don’t have.
2. We have been reading in the news, that many couples across the world are getting divorced due to the lockdown and also on the professional front many people seem to be under tremendous amount of stress.
I feel having good mentors is the best insurance policy as mentors can help one sail through in any situation in life. If we throw a small stone in a pond we see many ripples. In a larger lake the same stone doesn’t make a big difference. At times within the family people get in to conflicts due to small things due to which they get stuck in the pond. If they broaden the horizon, like the lake, these small stones don’t make a big difference in life.
Mentors can help us realize both in the personal and the professional front that we shouldn’t be affected by situations on which we have no control. Instead we should look at people who have bigger social or financial challenges than us; instead we as families should try to help others by getting away from the ‘I, Me and Mine’ feeling. If more and more families think in that direction of what we can do for others, it will not only make them positive, it helps them in being inspired.
There is a saying that charity begins at home. As a family we need to work with each other to improve our health, do things we wanted to do which we couldn’t do, try to help the community as much as possible. In the current situation almost everyone is a victim. Everyone can also try to be part of a solution by switching the gears when it comes to the mindset. Our attitude should be to help our family in these stressful times rather than adding to the stress.
3. How can spirituality help in the current situation?
My serious interest in spirituality began when I was 31 years old. Spirituality has taught me the importance of time due to which I have learnt to prioritize things in my life by keeping in mind I have limited time in this world. In addition to time, it has given me the understanding of who I am.
Am I the Chairman of Arvind Mafatlal Group? Or am I first a human being like 7.2 billion others, and incidentally I happen to have certain responsibilities?
Ultimately as children of the one creator, we are all part of the same family.
Spirituality has made me dive deeper into questions like ‘where have I come from’ and ‘where am I going’. Where does my happiness comes from? If something is there, then someone has to be behind it.
Spirituality has made me understand my relationship with the creator while continuing to perform my duties. Spirituality has made me realize I am not the master of my destiny; I am not the controller of both good and bad things which come in my life. Spirituality helps me in reconnecting with the Creator of this universe by diving deeper in to the internal aspect of life as compared to the external aspect of life. And to do this, there is serious commitment of time.
Today everyone wants to be peaceful, and I feel spirituality is the best peace formula for this world. In the final analysis, spiritual interest is a matter of internal consciousness, it doesn’t take me away from worldly duties, rather it helps me perform my duties more responsibly.
I would like to conclude this by sharing one formula which can help the CMT’s (Crisis Management Teams) across the world. This formula is also known as CMT (Cash, Mentors and Time) which I feel is the need of the hour. If organizations can help their employees make this formula a priority, they will be soon able to get out of this crisis.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
Mr. Hrishikesh Mafatlal is the Chairman of the Arvind Mafatlal Group. He is also a TEDx Speaker. Mr. Mafatlal is on the board of 11 other companies. He is also Trustee of Shri Sadguru Seva Sangh Trust, Chairman of BAIF Development Research Foundation, Trustee of Lady Northcote Hindu Orphanage (LNHO), Chairman of the Bhaktivedanta Hospital at Mira Road. He has also been associated with the pioneering effort of tribal rehabilitation in more than 40 villages of Wada Taluka in Palghar District.