Making A Difference

Building a Legacy

Sunil Mittal (OPM 27, 1999)

Sunil B. Mittal (OPM 27, 1999) is founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises and is a 2016 recipient of an HBS Alumni Achievement Award. In this video, he talks about the role of innovation and reinvention to keep a business moving forward. “I like to build new things. The most exciting thing for me is to build new things. I get very bored. And I would say, while I didn’t well in college I did well in learning the import policy of India, which were three fat books, and I knew them backwards.

“Slowly, I moved away from my manufacturing business into trading and importing of various goods. Generators from Japan. India had power shortages; I became the largest importer of generators in the world in three years. I was all of 23, 24 then.

“I imported India’s first push-button phone. And phones were not allowed to be imported. But electronic parts were allowed. So you bought phones in Taiwan [and] disassembled them; something went to Bombay, something went to Delhi, something went to Calcutta. You cleared them as parts and then you put them together as a telephone. That’s how India’s first push-button telephone was born. And that’s how India’s telecom revolution started. And my own too. It’s crazy and great.”

(Published September 2016)