Claremont McKenna College
Vijay Mallya: A Maverick
Leadership is a constant theme and emphasis at CMC. In fact, one of the ways we describe CMC students is “Leaders in the Making.” Identify and discuss a person, fictional or nonfictional, who has helped shape culture and thought. You may select someone from any field: literature, the arts, science, politics, history, athletics, business, education, etc.
Vijay Mallya, an Indian airline and brewing tycoon, is an unconventional businessman. He is the owner of the world’s second largest spirits company and also of one of India’s largest airlines, and his business success is one of many examples of the economic rise of India. However, even in a country where millionaires are springing up by the hundreds, this liquor baron is in a class of his own. A self-styled “King of Good Times”, he lives his life to the fullest and unrepentantly displays his wealth, having no qualms about living the way he does. To the rapidly expanding Indian upper middle-class he is an inspiration, a person who challenges the deep-rooted Indian ethos of saving and sacrifice.
Mallya’s father, Vittal Mallya, was a rich industrialist who deftly bought the shares of a brewing company, United Breweries, during a time when the Indian government was proposing prohibition. Vittal’s intuition told him that the government would find prohibition to be impractical, and when the idea was shelved a few years later, he found himself at the helm of United Breweries. When he suddenly died of a heart attack in 1983 at the age of 59, his frivolous 27-year-old son Vijay was suddenly thrust into the chairmanship of a $100 million...
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