Sunil Bharti Mittal, who transformed the Bharti group from a small cycle parts maker to India's largest private telecom provider, was on Thursday elected president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for 2007-08.
He formally succeeds Ashok Leyland Chief Executive R Seshasayee on Friday.
The industry lobby, which held its annual meeting in New Delhi on Thursday, also announced that KV Kamath, the managing director of India's biggest financial services company by market capitalisation ICICI Bank, would be its new vice president.
Mittal founded the Bharti group when he was all of 18, after graduating from the Punjab University. His enterprise ranks among India's top 10 today with a market capitalisation of over $35 billion and employs over 30,000 people.
Besides telecommunications services and broadband, his group's interest spans push-button phones, customer management services, telecom services in other countries, export of fresh fruits and vegetables, and retailing.
The 49-year-old first generation entrepreneur, awarded the Padma Bhushan by President APJ Abdul Kalam this year, is a member of Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry and serves as co-chair of the Indo-British Partnership Network.
He was co-chair of this year's annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and serves on the boards of several institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, Global GSM Association and the Indo-Singapore Partnership Foundation.
"His business acumen and leadership have been recognised through the numerous instances, he has been hailed as the businessman and entrepreneur of the year by leading global institutions and publications," a CII statement said.
Kamath started his career in 1971 with the Investment Credit and Investment Corp of India that founded ICICI Bank, and moved to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 1998, before returning to his present company as chief executive in 1996.
"The strategic initiatives and structural changes subsequently instituted by him across the ICICI Group have helped ICICI to redraw its boundaries and increase its business potential," the bank said of Kamath.
The 59-year-old professional chief executive has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Karnataka Regional Educational College and a master's in business administration from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Ahmedabad.
He serves on the governing councils of IIM, Indian School of Business, National Institute of Bank Management and Manipal Academy of Higher Education, besides being a member of CII's National Council.