Her name featured on the list of awardees announced by the Government on the occasion of Republic Day 2010.
Here is a short excerpt from a 2005 article on Arnavaz Aga
Aga is always in her trademark cotton or silk saris, whether it’s for a talk on women achievers at a convention organised by the Indian Institute of Management (Kolkata), for the pages of the November issue in Business Today as part of the top 25 most powerful women in business, or while accepting the lifetime achievement award at the Financial Express-Electrolux Women in Business Awards, as she did last year. Just like the sari, the no-nonsense expression on her face, reflecting steely determination, is an intrinsic part of her.
This calm determination has helped her family and company Thermax India tide over trying times. The death of her husband Rohinton in 1996 from a heart attack thrust her into the chairperson’s role of Thermax, an engineering company that was begun by her father A S Bathena three decades ago and later managed by Rohinton. Just as Aga, till then director of human resources, was finding her feet as the head of Thermax, she suffered another deep loss – the death of her 25-year-old son Kurush in a road accident.
At the time, Thermax’s growth curve dipped and share prices plummeted from Rs 400 to Rs 36. An anonymous letter from a shareholder accusing her of letting him down forced her to take stock of the situation. “I realised I wasn’t capable but was only pretending to run the business,” she says. Losing no time, she detached herself from day-to-day operations and brought in a foreign consultant to restructure the company – the move revived its fortunes.
Since its turnaround, Thermax, with its presence in 14 countries, has emerged as a leading manufacturer of engineering products and systems for industries. “Despite stiff challenges at work and crises at home, she succeeded in separating her ownership and professional responsibilities, so crucial in the leadership of a closely held family enterprise,” recalls P M Kumar, former head of human resources, under whom Aga had trained in the 1980s.
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