Nisa Godrej – touted as one of the youngest chairpersons in corporate India, is an Indian female business leader, industrialist, executive, and philanthropist. She is the younger daughter of Adi Godrej, the Chairman of the Godrej Group and serves as the Chairperson and Managing Director at Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL), with a focus on innovation, strategy, and human resources. She is also famously known for spearheading change at GCPL and introducing a performance-oriented culture and inclusivity at the workplace. Being the head of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, Nisa has largely been responsible for globally expanding GCPL in South-East Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Nisa Godrej was born as Nisaba Adi Godrej on Sunday, 12 February 1978 (age 43 years; as of 2021) with the zodiac sign Aquarius. She was born and brought up in Mumbai where she attended The Cathedral And John Connon School from 1983 to 1994. Nisa then went to England to receive her formal education at the Stowe School till 1996. For higher education, she moved to the US and completed her bachelor’s in science from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and further did MBA from the Harvard Business School in Massachusetts.
Height (approx.): 5’ 3”
Hair Colour: Medium Ash Blonde
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Nisa Godrej is the younger daughter of the chairman of the Godrej Group, and the Indian billionaire businessman, and industrialist Adi Burjorji Godrej, who has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan. Nisa’s mother, Parmeshwar Adi Godrej, too was the chairman of the Godrej Group, a businesswoman, a former air-hostess with Air India, and an Indian philanthropist and social worker who died of a degenerative lung illness in 2016. Nisa is the middle child of her parents. Her elder sister, Tanya Arvind Dubash, is the Executive Director and Chief Brand Officer at Godrej Industries Ltd., who is responsible for managing the corporate communications and health-food chain Nature’s Basket.
Nisa’s younger brother, Pirojsha Adi Godrej, serves as the Executive Chairman of Godrej Properties Ltd. and oversees the overall group portfolio. He is also the in-charge of Godrej Properties, which is the group’s real estate arm.
Nisa’s uncle, Nadir Godrej, who is the younger brother of her father, also holds a one-fifth share in the assets of the Godrej Group. Nadir serves as the Managing Director of Godrej Industries and chairs Godrej Agrovet, the agribusiness unit of the conglomerate.
Husband & Children
Nisa Godrej got married to Kalpesh Mehta, her Wharton classmate, in May 2013. Her husband is the co-founder of Housr and founder of Tribeca Developers, a property business that represents the Trump Organization in India. The wedding ceremony took place at the Godrej’s beachside mansion in Juhu, Mumbai and it was a private affair with only family and close friends. The couple has a son Zoran Mehta, and a daughter.
In her early 20s, before she headed to Harvard for her MBA, Nisa Godrej interned under A. Mahendran, former managing director at GCPL. Fresh Wharton undergraduate at the time, Nisaaba worked at the Godrej’s home insecticides joint venture with the US-based Sara Lee in 2000 for a year before she took up the position of Assistant Corporate HR Manager. According to her, she was a flop show at the time. Nisa recalled in an interview,
It was a big failure. It was an expensive way to learn about the realities of business.”
Within another year, Nisaba became the Executive Assistant to the Managing Director of Godrej Tea. In 2008, Nisa got appointed to the board of Godrej Agrovet, and in almost two years the middle Godrej child became the President of Human Capital and Innovation at Godrej Industries Ltd. and she also became the Director at Godrej Household Products Ltd. Nisa’s new role involved managing various projects in innovation, strategy, and HR for the company. In May 2013, Nisa was appointed the Executive Director of Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL), after which there was no looking back for her. When Nisaba completed her four years in the leadership position, she stepped into the shoes of her father in May 2017 and became the Executive Chairperson of the Godrej Group’s FMCG arm. Three years later in July, the young Godrej faced another challenge when Vivek Gambhir, the former MD and Chairperson of GCPL stepped down citing personal reasons and Nisa was given the reigns of Godrej’s consumer flagship. Her real challenge was to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on the company’s revenue that had dipped by 12 per cent. Nisaba also leads the Godrej Group’s ‘Good & Green’ CSR initiative and oversees the operations of the Godrej Family Council. When asked about what’s in store for the company’s future in an interview, Nisaba answered that she wished to make the Godrej Group more inclusive, diversifying, and at least 30 per cent women workforce in the next few years. She further commented,
We want to be 10 times our current size, 10 years from now. We are not even the best in India and nowhere near being world-class. The idea is to make the company more and more attractive for women to stay in the workforce.”
The businesswoman is a philanthropist who works with social organisations like the Heroes Project and Teach For India, to make primary education accessible to underprivileged children. Nisa is also actively involved with Dasra – a philanthropic foundation that works with women, children, and rural families for large-scale social change. Godrej revealed in an article that she is committed to “change the educational outcomes for a million Indian girls.” Nisa, the face of change at the family-owned Godrej Group, also advocates for gender-neutral policies. Nisa stood up for the rights of the LGBT+ community at her company when she rolled out health insurance for same-sex partners and a pay policy for gender transition and hormone replacement therapy.
The visionary business leader strongly supports women in leadership roles in the company as well, and her support is not just limited to it. During her stint at the Godrej Group, Nisa has managed to appoint five women to the company’s board – the highest of any listed company in India. To make her company lucrative for the women workforce, Godrej has introduced many women-friendly policies, which include work-from-home initiative, maternity support, leadership training, flexible working hours for women employees, and a program to help women make a comeback who have dropped out of the workforce at the mid-management level.
The younger Godrej daughter sits on the Board of Directors of various companies including Godrej Consumer Products, Godrej Agrovet, Mahindra and Mahindra, and VIP Industries. Nisa also heads the Corporate Communications and Media for the Group and oversees Godrej Nature’s Basket with her elder sister Tanya. The philanthropist also serves as a member of the Indian Philanthropy Forum.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- In 2018, Nisa appeared on the Forbes List of The Emergent 25 Asia’s Latest Star Businesswomen.
- Two years later, in 2020, Nisa was featured in the annual list of Fortune India’s “Most powerful women in business who are making an impact by virtue of their business acumen and social and cultural influence.”
Nisa earns approximately Rs. 4.62 crores annually.
The net worth of Nisa Godrej is approximately Rs. 1,048.96 crores and she also owns shareholdings worth over Rs. 2,657 crores.
- Nisa Godrej’s full name is Nisaba Godrej.
- Nisa has a reserved nature and is media-shy, who is quite guarded in her public profile.
- When Nisa was 6 years old, she got the chance to make her Bollywood debut in the film “Jaanbaaz” in 1986. Godrej appeared in the opening scene of the movie riding a horse with the initials N.A.G.
- The businesswoman is deeply passionate about women education and learning more about the human mind. In her free time, she likes to go trekking or engages in equestrian sports or water sports.
- Nisaba is known for her quick decision making by her co-workers and she has become the face of the reinvention since she has been associated with the family business.
- In 2007, GCPL’s market capitalisation increased 20-folds – from Rs. 3,000 crore to Rs. 60,000 crore, thanks to Nisa for her contribution to the GCPL’s Project Leapfrog.
- The Harvard grad has also been admired for her move to hire foreigners for leadership positions at the 121-year old Godrej conglomerate and for setting an example of performance-oriented hirings in the Indian business industry. In 2008, Nisa started the trend by replacing a longtime Godrej employee with one of her Harvard classmates, Mark Kahn, as the Executive Vice President at Godrej Agrovetto.
- Under Nisa’s directorship, the revenue of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. (GCPL) in FY 2013-2014 doubled to Rs. 7,583 crore from the FY 2010-2011.
- She famously transformed the loss-making venture – Godrej Agrovet to a profitable one in 2011- 2012 when the flagship fetched a profit of Rs. 80 crore.
- The young Godrej has also been credited with the launch of the new consumer products at Godrej in the past five years, such as hair dyes, insecticides, tissues, deodorants, inexpensive insect repellents, and car aerosols. Reports stated that these account for a fifth of Godrej Consumer Products’ global growth and more than a third of the company’s domestic growth.
- Nisa also achieved the feat of being the youngest executive chairperson of a company whose consolidated revenue was Rs. 9,600 crore.
- In 2014, Nisa made headlines for taking her one-month-old son Zoran to the office for attending board meetings, while still on maternity leave. The young mother’s dedication to her work while balancing her personal life set a benchmark for the female workforce. When Nisaba was asked in an interview about her decision and how she felt about taking her son to office, she replied
I am very happy to leave my son with a nanny, or in playschool, or with my mother- or father-in-law because I want to work. I have learnt to take motherhood month by month. It is for each woman to balance those decisions about work and career. It is not about what books and newspaper articles tell you. It is about what you want… and once your choice is made, have confidence in that choice and stand by it. Also, remember to not judge other women for the choices they make.”
- According to reports, Nisa Godrej has been appointed as the Chairperson of GCPL till 31 March 2022 and she will serve as its Managing Director till 30 September 2022.