Harsh Mariwala shares Harsh Realities of Building Marico Parachute Oil Company

Ritika Deshpande

Marico Founder Harsh Mariwala Success Story

Founded by Harsh Mariwala in 1990, Marico is an FMCG company [Fast moving consumer goods] providing an extensive range of food, beauty, hygiene and wellness products. Headquartered in Mumbai, Marico encompasses several brands under its name including the famous Parachute, NIHAR, Saffola, Hair & Care, Livon, Pure Sense, Set Wet, Mediker, and many more.

If you’re an Indian who doesn’t own at least one Marico product, are you even qualified to call yourself an Indian? Jokes apart, Marico is one of the largest consumer products companies and has ranked 6th among India’s most sustainable companies with A+ ratings and has its presence primarily in India and other countries such as Bangladesh, Egypt, South Africa, Vietnam, Myanmar, etc. As of 2021, Harsh has been ranked as the 55th wealthiest Indian by Forbes.

Early Life of Harsh Mariwala

Born and brought up in South Mumbai, Harsh Mariwala is in his 70s today. He did his B.Com from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics and describes his college self as a very quiet and reserved kid.

I wanted to be independent from day one,” he says. 

He was sure of what he wanted to do with his life from the very beginning of his career. His heart was set on being a businessman and he had one thing clear- never to work for other people.

On top of that, he had a burning desire to be a leader. After being done with college, he had his eye on pursuing MBA. According to him, he wasn’t scholarly enough to get into the limited amount of MBA colleges that India had when he was young, so he dropped the idea after failing to get into his desired college. 

Journey of Building Marico

His family had a business under the name of Bombay Oil Industries. As he couldn’t get into an MBA course, he was left with no choice but to join his family’s business.

He joined it when he was just 20 years old way back in 1971. And today, in his 70s, he is still working hard and is fitter than ever, unstoppable.

While working there, he constantly felt restricted and trapped due to unbearable family pressure. He had to convince his family to leave the business and finally left it after 2-3 years of persuasion.

In 1974, he set up a national distribution network for the company Parachute. Your favourite blue bottle of coconut oil that you’ll probably find lying around in your house was officially designed by Harsh in the 1980s.

And finally, on the 2nd of April 1990, Marico was born. Finally breaking free from the restrictions of his family business, building Marico gave him the kind of freedom that he’d always been looking for.

Different Brands of Marico Limited

Today, Marico has many successful brands in the FMCG industry and it has also been recognised as a Fortune 500 Company in India.

On the 1st of April 2014, he stepped down as the Managing Director of the company and started working as its Chairman. He was just 20 years old when he joined his family’s business and now he’s in his 70s, still unstoppable, and working harder than ever.

Ascent and Mariwala Health Initiative

ASCENT is a non-profit organization initiated by him in 2012 to enrich the lives of entrepreneurs where they’re provided with a platform which allows them to learn from each other’s unique insights, experiences and ideas in a completely healthy and non-competing atmosphere.  

He also founded the Mariwala Health Initiative in 2015 with the goal of making mental health services accessible to marginalized people and communities. A platform like this is crucial in today’s society which still continues to stigmatize mental health issues. This initiative has reached out to more than 4 lakh individuals and more than 1.8 lakh people have reached out to them for counselling.

Using a set of key ideas and beliefs to inform and prioritise our work, we were motivated to create a big picture of mental health, which moves away from narrow medical definitions, and signals a shift towards more inclusive, holistic, and empathetic practices,” is what their website has to say.

Harsh Realities of Building Marico

With its title being quite an obvious play on words, Harsh Realities is a book written by him and published on 30th July 2021 for helping aspiring entrepreneurs pursue their dreams.

It is co-authored by Ram Charan, a management thinker and guru. After receiving a number of suggestions from people to write a book, Harsh took the idea to heart and Harsh Realities was the outcome of it. He has penned down every single one of his significant life experiences and poured all of his crucial life insights into this highly valuable book.

Harsh Realities became a bestseller the day it was officially launched, gaining immediate success. The intent behind writing the book was to share all of the wisdom that he’s gained throughout the course of his life as well as the life lessons in the endless world of business that would potentially help young and ambitious entrepreneurs.

Making a difference in others’ life is what he cared about most while writing the book. The book also talks about everything that went into the making of Marico and his entrepreneurial journey.

Mostly targeted towards aspiring entrepreneurs who want to scale up their businesses, there is something for every single person who wants to make the most of their time.

Life Lessons from Harsh Mariwala

Of course passion is important, but passion has to be combined with determination and perseverance,” Harsh Mariwala says. His incredible insights into life make him exceptionally wise.

The desire to succeed in life makes you go in all directions. You will have setbacks, but you should have the ability to fight back and get back.

His invincible demeanour knows no bounds and it won’t be inaccurate to say that there is no man on the entire planet more disciplined than him. Or at least we haven’t found one yet.

He calls himself a fitness freak and in fact, has never missed a single workout for 2 whole decades. He says that he’s fitter now than he was 30 years ago and that he can work out for 2 hours straight without any difficulty.

Even when he’s travelling, he makes sure to get in some form of exercise and leads an extremely organized and structured life and makes sure to prioritize important things. Due to his commendable time management skills, he is able to step out of his office at 6 pm sharp.

This way, he gets to spend time doing things that he enjoys such as playing golf and listening to some good old classical music. He also finds the greatest joy in being able to spend the majority of his time with his grandchildren and says that it’s by far the most amazing and restorative experience ever.

I can’t see myself retired,” he says, and he will continue to work till the end of time as his work would undoubtedly continue to remain his innate passion for the rest of his life. 

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