Ravi Pillai - his rise from a farming family in Kerala to the ranks of the wealthy

The Way Forward: Pillai needs to twofold turnover of $3 billion over next three years. Will concentrate on extension in Africa, Middle East and India.

On September 2 consistently, Ravi Pillai, 60, the administrator and overseeing executive of the $3 billion RP Group of Companies, performs the udayasthamana pooja at the Tirupati sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh. Whichever some piece of the world he is in, Pillai flies into Tirupati the earlier night. He gets up at 4 am and heads to the sanctuary. Udayasthamana truly implies from sunrise to nightfall; that is to what extent the lover must go to the master. Just five to seven individuals are permitted in the sanctum sanctorum where the pooja is led. What's more, you can't book one today in the event that you need to—the sitting tight time for a udayasthamana pooja is over ten years.

September 2 additionally happens to be Pillai's birthday.

"I booked this pooja 30 years back," says Pillai. "What's more, I have been doing it consistently from that point forward. Whatever I have attained to in my life, it is a direct result of my diligent work and the endowments of god. I couldn't have done anything alone."

The divine beings appear to have paid heed to his commitment. Consider how well he has accomplished for himself: This year, Pillai has entered the Forbes India Rich List shockingly, at No. 34 with an expected total assets of $1.7 billion.

Furthermore, now take a gander at his back-story.

Naturally introduced to a group of agriculturists close Kollam in Kerala, Pillai says that he had for a long while been itching to turn into a business person. As a first step, he began a chit reserve. While that demonstrated productive, he soon acknowledged there was more to be picked up from the blasting development division. In the mid 1970s, he started doing sub-contracting work for organizations in the concoction and oil refinery business. His voyage, nonetheless, went to a sudden stop when the workers went on strike. Pillai says he was disillusioned yet, from multiple points of view, this was a defining moment in his life.


In 1979, Pillai moved to Saudi Arabia with what small amount cash he had spared. This was likewise the time when numerous "Malayalis" from Kerala were getting attracted by circumstances in the Middle East. "I didn't know anyone there. What's more, this was the first occasion when I had traveled to another country," says Pillai. While he was clear that he needed to stay in the development business, it wasn't anything but difficult to begin. For the initial two years, he worked with a businessperson called Abdullah Jufan. "Our association did not work out. So I exited and began working with another specialist called Nasser Al-Hajri," says Pillai.

It is an organization that has stood the test of time.

Headquartered in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, today Nasser Al-Hajri Corporation is one of the biggest general development builders in the Middle East. It was established in 1978 and was a little organization at the time Pillai went along with it. Al-Hajri, the first promoter, is the CEO. (Pillai has a 50 percent association in the organization; later he framed RP Group of Companies and Nasser Al-Hajri Corporation is a vertical under it.)

Pillai, who is the overseeing chief of the organization, says the endeavor began with around 120 individuals, every one of them enlisted from a town called Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu. "The genuine development occurred around 1983. We began getting sub-contracting work and our first venture was to build an underground parking spot for planes, for a French organization," he says. "At that point we got a venture for the Royal Terminal [at Riyadh airport], took after by other petrochemical plants and refineries."

The significant supporter to Pillai's development has been the industrialisation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the development blast in the Middle East. Beginning 1975, the nation started deal with Jubail, a little angling town which is the biggest mechanical city in the Middle East today. In 1976, Saudi Arabia structured Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), an expanded organization with hobbies in chemicals, petrochemicals, composts and steel. Nasser Al-Hajri Corporation piggybacked on the development of SABIC; it was and keeps on being the favored builder for SABIC's modern tasks.

SABIC recorded a turnover of $50.4 billion in 2012. Pillai likewise did well to grow the business to different nations like Qatar and United Arab Emirates; today, Nasser Al-Hajri Corporation's customer list incorporates worldwide players, for example, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Shell, Philips Conoco, Chiyoda, Daelim and RasGas.

Yet it wasn't care for organizations were lining up to issue him anticipates. He needed to fight enough wariness. Pillai says that the impression of Indians in the Middle East around then was that they were just fit to wind up cooks, drivers or plant specialists. Add to that, the development part was commanded by Korean organizations. "Individuals would say that Indians can't do it. With each venture, I demonstrated that we could do specialized work as well," says Pillai. "We were better in both quality and expense. Truth be told, I have conveyed numerous tasks with simply an Indian workforce." The RP Group of Companies today utilizes around 70,000 individuals, more than 45,000 of whom are Indians.


Pillai hasn't ceased there. In the most recent 35 years, he has gone past development and now has intrigues in cordiality, instruction, retail and healing facilities too. There is likewise a visits and-ventures business and an exchanging organization in Dubai. While he is situated in Bahrain, Pillai has made noteworthy interests in his home state, Kerala (Upasana nursing school, Raviz Hotel & Resorts, K Mall in Kollam and RP Mall in Kozhikode). He was honored the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in 2008 and the Padma Shri in 2010.

In 2011, Pillai purchased Leela Resorts, Leela Group's Kovalam shoreline property in Kerala, for about Rs 500 crore. CPK Nair, the administrator of Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, says that he is exceptionally enamored with Pillai. They initially met in 2010. "I had never caught wind of him. I saw him shockingly when I was getting the Padma Bhushan. He was getting the Padma Shri and had accompanied around 100 individuals to gather the honor," says Nair. After a year, Nair ended up in a bad position. His organization, Leela Venture, had gathered obligation of Rs 3,830 crore toward the end of FY11 owing to capital use of over Rs 4,000 crore. He expected to diminish obligation earnestly. The thought of putting the Kovalam property on the piece was at the forefront of his thoughts however it was a prized ownership he wasn't willing to offer it shoddy.

Anyway the word was out. In July 2011, Pillai approached Nair to purchase the property. Pillai says that every time he went by Kerala, he was baffled at the nature of lodgings there. "That is the reason I needed my own particular lodging to stay in with my loved ones. Furthermore, I cherish the ocean," he says. He met Nair in his office in Mumbai and the two conceded to an arrangement. "While I was at first reluctant, I sold the property to him on the grounds that he issued me a reasonable cost. Despite everything we deal with that property for him," says Nair.

Pillai is clearly mindful of his prosperity. Anyway, at 60, he likewise realizes that there is just so much he can do. For additional, he has stuck his trusts on his kids. His child, Ganesh Ravi Pillai, who has worked with Citibank and has enlisted for his MBA at IE Business School in Spain, will go along with him one year from now. "I am additionally anticipating my girl [Dr Aarathi Ravi Pillai], who's a specialist, joining the business. They will drive things," he says.

They have huge shoes to fill and greater dreams to satisfy. Their dad seeks to twofold his current business (turnover) through the following three years. Be that as it may, while he sits tight for them to go along with, he isn't resting either. "There is still a great deal of potential in diverse parts of the Middle East. We are developing in Africa and India," he says. "I am voyaging constantly, searching for new open doors."