Beyond Expectations : Inside the Mara Group with Ashish J Thakkar
With one of Africa’s fastest growing businesses, an office in the tallest building in the world, a new book, and a ticket to outer space, Ashish Thakkar is flying high. In an interview with Kathryn Semcow, the 34-year-old phenomenon gets deep about his success. Inside the Mara Group with Ashish J Thakkar
As I take the elevator to the 146th level of the Burj Khalifa to meet Ashish Thakkar, I have a clear picture in my mind of the man I will meet. Ascending the tallest building in the world takes only seconds, and I am expecting a manner equally as fast – an African version of Richard Branson, dashing around the full-floor office, waving his pen like a light saber as he shouts motivational slogans to beleaguered staff.
Thakkar and Branson, after all, have many similarities. Branson dropped out of school at 16 and started a magazine; Thakkar left school to develop his computer business at the age of 15. By the age of 34 Branson owned Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Megastores; Thakkar at the same age is already running the Mara Group empire, which includes 11,000 employees working in banking, real estate, infrastructure, and technology, as well as Riley Packaging which Thakkar started earlier in his career. Branson is known for being a billionaire, while press often refer to Thakkar as “Africa’s Youngest Billionaire” – a tag Forbes disputes and Thakkar himself shuns, saying he would much rather be known for the value he creates. Either way, Branson and Thakkar both have lots of money to burn.