Gautam Singhania, CMD of the Raymond Group, and Nawaz Modi Singhania, India’s leading fitness icon, are a class act. Mammoth achievement, a fun equation and solid marriage, beautiful children and success in droves undoubtedly make them one of India’s most fabulous power couples. What makes them shine even brighter is the family pain they have faced publicly together, and come out even stronger. Here’s a close look at the strong-willed, engaging duo.
By Andrea CostaBir
Having known Nawaz Modi Singhania for several years, I know she’s an amazing powerhouse – highly dedicated, supremely professional, always polite and very warm. Gautam Singhania is one of the coolest industrialists globally – dashing, dynamic, gutsy and suave. Be it running his gigantic conglomerate, indulging in motorsport or flying a plane, speed drives him. Together, they’ve combined their strengths and made a wonderful partnership, a great marriage. I decided to deep dive and ask them to reveal insights into the fabulous glue that binds them together.
‘Power Couple’ is a term that defines you perfectly – both of you have so much on your plate between Raymond, the Singhania schools, and Nawaz’s Body Art fitness business. Please tell us a little about the businesses and what drives you both.
Gautam: Raymond is fundamentally in four lines of business. The Lifestyle business, Engineering & Auto, FMCG and Real Estate. In the Lifestyle business, we are into worsted fabrics and the largest in the world for the same. We also have Retail in excess of 1,500 stores. With four brands – Raymond, Park Avenue, Parx and Colour Plus – we are India’s most trusted brand. In Engineering & Auto Components, we are the largest in the world in engineering files. It basically goes into the agriculture and auto industries. In Auto Components, we make ring gears for the auto industry. For FMCG, we handle deodorants etc under the Park Avenue brand. And we also have a prophylactic business that houses the famous Kama Sutra brand. Lastly, we do Real Estate which we got into in the last three years, just before the pandemic. We are the No.1 player in the Thane (Maharashtra) micro market and have developed a very good reputation for affordable housing. We have two projects the ‘Ten X’ and ‘The Address by GS’, which are both doing exceedingly well in the Thane market with over 75% of inventory being sold. This business is growing into a big business of ours. Then we have Schools – Raymond has been in the education business for over 50 years. We have now got into the DM model and are taking other schools on contract to run.
We have taken one school in Tirupati and have signed in three more schools in Thane. I think by 2025, we will have between 50,000 and 75,000 children in our schools, which would make us the largest education institute in the world. Also, our school has consistently been the No.1 School in India for the last five-six years.
Nawaz: I have been passionate about better health, improved fitness, ideal nutrition, wellness and rehabilitation since a very young age, due to my own early life experiences. Bringing many a first in terms of fitness genres into India has been my forte – be it Pilates, Gyrotonics, Anti-Aging Facial Fitness, Aqua Aerobics, Slide Training, Mini Trampoline Training, and Ballet Barre Training amongst many others. My father’s words stay with me – “To those whom God gives a lot to, He expects a lot from.” Giving back to society in my own unique way, and in ways people cannot otherwise obtain, is an on-going passion for me.
Are you each other’s sounding boards with regard to work-related matters?
Gautam: Yes, I definitely use Nawaz as a sounding board as she gives me an unbiased opinion on what I do.
Nawaz: Yes, I do. Gautam thinks outside the box and often comes up with great solutions for me that had not occurred to me.
Do you have a shared vision for your businesses, and if yes, please share it with us.
Gautam & Nawaz: For every business of ours, we have a different objective and vision. At the end of the day, the vision is to create exponential shareholder value, and that is the mission we are on.
Having been together for close to 30 years, what are the key fundamentals that make your relationship work?
Gautam: Nawaz and I have known each for eight years before marriage and 23 years after that. We have developed a very close friendship over several decades and there is a mutual understanding and respect between the two of us. I can trust her and talk to her about anything.
Nawaz: Friendship, and all the key ingredients that go into making a great friendship. These are vitally important in the marriage – trust, kindness, caring, love, consideration, respect, space, protectiveness, boundaries, empathy, common core values, morals, principles, honesty, vulnerabilities and having each other’s backs always.
Please give us insights into each other’s strengths, and one another’s characteristics that drive you batty too!
Gautam: I think the strengths are what I would focus on. (1) Nawaz’s ability to bring an unbiased view to the table is a great strength. (2) I think when you are in a relationship, you can be honest and transparent with each other.
Nawaz: Gautam has fantastic people skills and a great worldview. He’s extremely street smart and listens to his gut instinct. He keeps his people close and is always tuned in. He really engages in life and lives it to the fullest.
Through your super hectic individual lives, how do you make time for each other? Nawaz, years ago, I remember you telling me that you actually schedule time out together in your diaries.
Gautam: I think the most important thing is to plan meticulously. Surely, we do diaries together and that helps us to plan. Also, I genuinely believe if something is a priority for you, you do find time for it.
Nawaz: Andrea, you have a great memory, on my answer of back then, nothing has changed… We also schedule our travel (when we’re not travelling together) so that we’re not apart from each other for more than a week or two at very best. Three annual family holidays go into our coming year’s diaries (probably before the printers have even started printing those diaries)! Those trips are sacrosanct!
From together time to me-time… Gautam, please tell us about your passion for formula racing… You’ve already set up the Super Car Club of India… Your passion for cars, planes and yachts is legendary… Please give us an insight into this side of your life. As CMD of the Raymond Group, how do you pack so much into your day and life?!
Gautam: I do have a passion for cars and I did set up the first Super Car Club in India. In those days, every time we went out for a drive, we brought a smile to people’s faces. I thought, why not get everybody to come out together?! It truly worked out well and hence the Super Car Club was born. I have a great passion for planes, cars, yachts etc. I guess I am just another guy. How do I pack so much into my life? – I think it all comes around to meticulous planning and I believe if it is a priority for you in your life, you will find time for it. As far as motorsport is concerned, I have been racing since the age of four. It is only in 2015 that I went into the international arena and raced in the Ferrari Challenge. It was more to prove to myself how good I stacked up against the rest. I was very happy with my performance.
Could you tell us something about ‘drifting’ that you indulge in? Is it safe and is Nawaz okay with you doing it?!
Gautam: Drifting is an adrenaline high sport. It is great to watch. Once you get the hang of the sport, it is pretty much like doing ballet. You just have to synchronize all the actions. Yes, there is fear when you race, but it is a high adrenaline rush and if you focus on it, and focus on the safety aspects, I think it can be ok. Initially, Nawaz did worry about what I did, but I took many safety precautions which I would keep explaining to her. I have been as careful in my motorsport as far as I could be. Now I only do it recreationally and not professionally.
Mumbai’s Coastal Road project seems to be close to your heart… you often give us aerial views of the work in progress.
Gautam: Yeah, the Coastal Road is a stupendous and important project in the city of Mumbai. I think it will fundamentally change Mumbai on so many levels. Once in a while, when I am in the helicopter, I shoot the same.
Nawaz, what is your me-time passion?
Nawaz: I read a lot and consume a lot of digital educational content. I need to be out in nature. I find it meditative. I love to paint. Music has been a passion. On days I don’t teach a class (Sunday!), you’ll find me in my home Pilates Studio. A fair part of my me-time is spent with my friends. Travel is important to me. Safaris are an all-time favourite destination.
By the way, do you monitor Gautam’s fitness regime?
Nawaz: No, I don’t. However, I do give him pointers as and when I feel he’s overdoing it or needs to tweak his routine a certain way to achieve his desired results.
Nawaz, you are super fit and so shapely… please give us pointers to your own fitness regime.
Nawaz: I just practise exactly what I preach! I lead from the front. You’ll see that reflect in all my media articles, social media posts, website and other content. You’ll hear thousands of my members from over the years confirm that. You have two young, impressionable daughters.
What is the one piece of advice you keep dinning into them repeatedly?
Nawaz: Oh, there are so many. I’m very uptight on drilling in the right value systems, morals, ethics and giving them the best parenting that I possibly can. I work hard on keeping them simple, basic, solid, good, kind, emphatetic, empathic, and no-nonsense people. I encourage them to speak their minds, to share their thoughts. I teach them how to identify toxic individuals pretty early on and ensure they clear off their playing field. Also follow healthy habits – nutrition, sleep, exercise, hygiene, developing their mind and whatever skills they take a fancy to. There’s so much more in this trajectory, I could go on and on… but you get the gist.
As a couple, you have seen your fair share of family issues and grief. How did you cope with it – individually and as a family? Are tough times more difficult to cope with since you both are public figures?
Gautam & Nawaz: We think every family has issues, hidden or otherwise. It’s only the fact that being public figures, ours are far more in the limelight. Obviously dealing with family issues is difficult. A lifetime of emotional ties, memories and experiences have their own strong impact. At the end of the day, if you stick to doing the right thing, you will come out on top.
Gautam, it is lovely to see you crossing over the bridge to your parents with love and respect. Could you give us a small insight into how you worked out the nitty-gritties in the best way forward for your family?
Gautam: I think the best way forward always is to do the right thing. The truth has a way of prevailing. You will find your way through the darker times. One keeps the faith.
Nawaz, I’ve known you for a long time now… you are such a grounded and amazing girl! What keeps you this way? Is it an inherent trait… or do you work towards living the balanced life?
Nawaz: I was brought up by rock solid, brainy and highly accomplished men. They would have so looked down upon me had I turned out any other way. I was the baby girl they protected, adored and thought the world of. Letting them (and myself) down was just never an option; not even in a passing thought. Nawaz and Gautam, you have made a great marriage by God’s grace.
What advice would you give young couples who are just starting out?
Gautam & Nawaz: Our advice is – you always give it your best shot and show mutual respect for each other. Treat your spouse the way you want to be treated. Whenever there is an issue, sit down and talk it out. Good communication is key. That will help you go the distance.
As you move forward together, working very hard and living the beautiful life, do you have any professional and personal couple goals that you are still waiting to accomplish?
Gautam & Nawaz: Life is a moving target and everybody’s goals – personally, professionally, spiritually and otherwise – keep changing. At different stages in life you set yourself that next benchmark, the next goal, and go for it.