Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani may soon find himself in the rarefied air of the $100 billion club. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as of September 2021, Ambani's net worth has increased to $92.6 billion. Ambani is the Chairman and Managing Director of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). Founded as a small textiles business in 1966 by Ambani's father, it is currently one of India's most valuable companies. Ambani's influence can be seen all over his country. Although his media and tech investments are relatively new, they’ve already transformed India from a poorly connected nation into a thriving digital landscape. For instance, since 2014, he has built a majority stake in Viacom 18—which produces Indian versions of MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, and the Voot OTT platform. In 2020, his Jio cellular service attracted $21 billion from Facebook, Google, and top-tier financial institutions. He is a member of several prominent national and international boards, including the Interpol Foundation and the World Economic Forum. Ambani resides at the Antilia Building, one of the world's most expensive private residences with a value exceeding $1 billion.

A chemist by training, Ambani ended up at Stanford University after gaining acceptance to some of the top MBA programs in the U.S. When he enrolled in 1979, his plan was to learn as much as possible about business administration so that he could go back to India and help his father continue building the Reliance empire. At Stanford, Ambani was exposed to some of the top minds in the field. He was especially impressed with faculty members such as Nobel Laureate Bill Sharpe, who made students think outside the box by using classroom time to ask questions like, "How do you make a difference in the world?" Unfortunately, Ambani's time was cut short. In 1980, after only completing half of his MBA at Stanford, Ambani withdrew at the behest of his father, who needed someone to help build a polyester yarn plant in India.

Become a Subscriber

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading this article.

Subscribe Now

Although he’s more than 4,000 miles away, Ambani continues to support the Stanford community in multiple ways. In addition to serving as a member of the Stanford Global Advisory Council, Ambani has also played the role of generous benefactor for more than a decade. In 2008, he established the Reliance Dhirubhai India Education Fund in support of promising Indian students with financial need in obtaining an MBA at Stanford. An important feature of the fellowship is that after graduation from the MBA program, the Reliance Dhirubhai Fellows are bound to return to India for a minimum of two years of employment in the private or public sector. "I am honored to help India’s next generation of leaders attend Stanford Business School," Ambani said, explaining the importance of his alma mater, "an academic institution with an international reputation for innovation, diversity of student experience, and the highest quality of faculty and students from around the world.”