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BW Businessworld

Ability To Learn Continuously Is Her Success Mantra

Ashni Biyani, Director, Future Ideas has learnt how to keep learning

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Ashni Biyani, elder daughter of Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani is the first woman in the Biyani family to enter the business. She is Future Ideas director in the group and has brought in design-led thinking within the group. Ashni graduated as a textile designer and has attended courses on scenario planning at New York's Parsons School of Design and the Summer Institute of General Management at Graduate School of Business, Stanford.

Future Group's next-generation head Ashni Biyani says aspects like designation never mattered to her. Design is being used as a tool to think and conceptualise. It's not as if it wasn't a focus area within the group earlier; there's now a different sort of rigour. For Ashni, one of the biggest moments was launching Future Ideas as a separate company that would cater not only to the Future Group, but also provide consulting services to other companies. “We managed this mandate after a fair bit of convincing,” she says.

Ability to learn continuously is her success mantra. She looks after the verticals of Future Ideas, FMCG and creation of work within the organisation. Says Ashni, “Since we are in the retail space, we got the opportunity to impact the lives. So, understanding how an idea is created and implementing it in proper manner plays a pivotal role.”

“My focus is to lead the group companies with ideas and collaborate it with the work style,” she explains. Her job is to look for changes in society and how to come out with relevant product offerings. Ashni confesses to be hugely curious, a trait she has inherited in no small measure from her father, Kishore Biyani. Starting off early, Ashni remembers spending her summer holidays at school helping her father open stores. It was this experience that laid the foundation for observing what people bought and why they did so. Today, she runs Future Ideas apart from being very closely involved with Future Consumer Enterprise, which has a focus on food and FMCG.

With an intricate understanding of the Indian consumer inherited from her father, she is on the lookout for more such ideas. And while she’s at it, she is never too far from the average Indian consumer.

Kishore Biyani has already made it clear that the future chief executives may not be family members but hardcore professionals. The next generation of Biyanis is being groomed to take on the role of mentors to guide the businesses. Biyanis have a family office which has seven members from family. The objective of the home office is to give the group business a strategic direction while separating family and business interests. They meet now and again at home to share ideas and discuss future possibilities. A key component of the home office is the mentoring role, both in capital and ideas that the seniors impart to the next generation.

Ashni who has taken a mentoring role long ago for Big Baazar, Family Centre, the new format of the value retailing, is moving in the right direction which is planned by her father.

She believes she’s been able to bring her perspective to bear at Future Group by applying design thinking to business keeping the customer at the core of the group’s thinking.

In her free time, Ashni a good singer herself enjoys India classical music in the company of her daughter and husband. Ashni has been married to Viraj Didwania, nephew of the Vedanta group’s Anil Agarwal, since 2010.