Ratan Tata's Story Biggest Achievements & Journey cover

Ratan Tata’s Story: Biggest Achievements & Journey!

A Walk through Ratan Tata’s Story: Today marks the birth of one of the finest and respected industrialists in India, Ratan Naval Tata, former chairman of Tata Sons. Today Tata has its presence in almost all areas, from the cars we travel in, the clothes we wear, the hotels we vacation in, to the tea we drink.

So how did Ratan Tata manage such a colossal group? And at the same time scale it to become the country’s largest conglomerate? Today, on Ratan Tata’s 83rd birthday, we pay respect by taking a look at Ratan Tata’s Story, the journey of Ratan Tata and his achievements along the way. 

Ratan Tata’s Story: Childhood and Youth

(Ratan Tata with his grandmother, Lady Navajbai Tata)(Ratan Tata with his grandmother, Lady Navajbai Tata)

Ratan Naval Tata was born to one of the richest families on December 28, 1937.  He is the great-grandson of Jamsetji Tata, the founder of Tata Group. His father Naval Tata was the adopted son of Ratanji Tata and Navajbai Tata. His mother was Sooni Tata. Despite hailing from a prominent family Ratan went through a disturbing childhood growing up. This was because of his parents splitting up when he was just 10. 

Following the split, he was raised by his grandmother, Lady Navajbai Tata,  at a manor called Tata Palace. His grandmother formally adopted him through the J. N. Petit Parsi Orphanage. He recalls being ragged at school over the divorce of his parents as this was uncommon in the 1950s.

As time passed the ragging only got worse when his mother remarried. It was during these tough times that his grandmother played a very important role in shaping his character. His grandmother taught him to the importance of retaining dignity at all costs. This gave him an alternative instead of fighting back.

He has been quoted multiple times stating how his grandmother helped him develop a strong set of values and ethics system which have guided him ever since he was a boy. He also recalls that it was his grandmother who helped him muster the courage to speak up and at the same time also taught him to do so in a kind and dignified manner. She always stood by his side in instances where he disagreed with his father like when he wanted to study in the US instead of the UK and when he decided to become an architect against his fathers’ wishes of him becoming an engineer. 

young ratan tata's story

Ratan Tata went on to study in the US at Cornell University where he received a degree in Architecture in 1959. He got an architecture job right out of college where he worked for two years. Ratan speaks of Los Angeles highly as he spent some of the best years of his life in Los Angeles. He loved the weather, had a job and owned a car.

In his post in Humans of Bombay Ratan Tata speaks about how he fell in love and almost got married in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he was forced to move to India due to his grandmother’s failing health. Even though he expected his future spouse to move with him to India her parents weren’t comfortable with this due to the instability in India due to the Indo-China war. This meant the end of their relationship.

Ratan Tata’s Story: A New Beginnings at Tata

In 1961 after returning to India Ratan Tata joined the Tata Group. His first job involved working with the blue-collar employees at Tata Steel Ltd in Jamshedpur. “It was a total waste of time — I was shuffled around from department to department, but nobody actually told me what to do! I guess, I was looked at as a family member, so no one said anything to me — but I spent 6 months just trying to make myself look ‘useful’,” Tata said. He worked as an apprentice on the shop floor and his responsibilities included shoveling limestone and working with the furnaces.

After gaining experience he was promoted to management during the 1970s. He was made director and tasked with leading National Radio and Electronics (NELCO). He was able to turn the company around, but the company eventually collapsed during an economic slowdown. In 1977, he was tasked to turn around another troubled company, the Mumbai-based Empress Mills. He succeeded in doing so but the refusal to add investment into the company and the Mumbai textile workers’ strike led by Datta Samant eventually led to its closure in 1986.

Ratan Tata’s Story: Appointment as Chairman

Ratan Tata with JRD Tata(Ratan Tata with JRD Tata)

In 1991 the legendary chairman of Tata Sons JRD Tata stepped down and named Ratan Tata as his successor. This came as a surprise not only to the management of the group but also to everyone outside the company including the media. One of the existing executives like Russi Mody,(Tata Steel) Darbari Seth (Tata Tea, Tata Chemicals) Ajit Kerkar (Taj Hotels), and Nani Palkhivala (director on the boards of several Tata companies) was expected to succeed JRD Tata.

They were already established names in the industry. This led to a bitter feud within the group. Mody even went on to openly voice his disagreement over Ratan. The media too went after Ratan Tata and branded him as the wrong choice and a result of nepotism. Unfortunately for Ratan Tata, he didn’t possess the charisma of his predecessor.  

One of the first reforms he put in place was setting a retirement age. According to this policy, the retirement age for directors was set at 70 and senior executives at 65. This began replacing the staff with younger talents. Mody was sacked after a messy scrap,  Seth and Kerkar retired over the years as they crossed the age limits and Palkhivala quit citing ill health.

Once the succession issue was sorted Ratan Tata could now focus on what was important i.e. leading the group. He convinced group companies to pay a royalty to Tata Sons for the use of the Tata brand name and also made individual companies report operationally to the group office. Under him, the group exited businesses such as cement, textiles, and cosmetics even as it increased its focus on others such as software, and entered telecommunications, finance, and retail. Looking back this can be seen as prepping the company to lead changes that were already taking place in a developing nation. During this process, JRD Tata guided Ratan as a mentor amongst all the criticism that was thrown at him.

Ratan Tata’s Story: Achievements

“I don’t believe in taking right decisions. I take decisions and then make them right.” – Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata had set out to reestablish the groups’ identity. For this, it was very important that he welded the organization together in a more cohesive way than it had been in the past so that it could identify itself more as a group. This new identity couldn’t have the same rusty image the company had over the years. Factors that helped here were the infusion of younger talent which made way for innovation and disinvestments from several companies.

Ratan Tata's Story: Achievements

One of Tata’s biggest achievements would be of the role it played in the Indian Automobile Industry. Although one would think of Nano when it comes to Tata, it is actually Indica which brought forward this revolution. The Indian truck maker set its eyes on creating India’s first truly Indian car, ‘Indica’. The car was the brainchild of Tata. He promised a vehicle with the dimensions of a (Maruti) Zen, the cabin size of an Ambassador, and the fuel efficiency of a Maruti 800. Its launch in December 1998 transition the group into serious car-making.

Today the group has gone ahead to become one of the largest car companies in India. Despite the manufacturing and quality problems an initial loss ( ₹ 500 crore loss declared in 2001), the Indica became a bestseller and marked the real entry of Tata Motors into cars, although the company had already signaled its intent with the launch of the Sierra, which would be called a cross-over vehicle today, and the Estate, a station wagon.

Another revolutionary introduction by the Tata’s was the Nano. The Nano was the dearest project of Ratan Tata. He decided to create a car at a price-point within reach of the average Indian consumer after seeing a family of 4 on a motorbike in the heavy Bombay rains. His concern for the safety of nuclear families led to him promising to make a car that would cost only a lakh rupee. Tata implemented all means to reduce its price and maintenance cost. He was the one who suggested that the car should be fitted with just one windscreen wiper. Despite these efforts at the time of the launch, the cost of the car was still higher. But since he had made a promise he went ahead and delivered on the promise.

Today Tata also serves on the boards of Fiat SpA, Alcoa, Mitsubishi, the American International Group, and Rolls Royce.

Another one of Ratan Tata’s greatest achievements was taking the Tata group to a global stage. This was made possible over a series of acquisitions. In 2000 the group acquired London-based Tetley Tea, in 2004 it purchased the truck-manufacturing operations of South Korea’s Daewoo Motors,  and Indian Hotels Co. Ltd took over management of The Pierre in New York.

Tata’s biggest acquisition was its purchase of Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus Group Plc in 2007. The company has since been renamed Tata Steel Europe. The acquisition of Corus, which was Europe’s second-largest steelmaker, catapulted the company into becoming the world’s seventh-largest steel producer

Under Ratan Tata,  TCS went public and Tata Motors was listed in the New York Stock Exchange giving it international recognition.

During the 21 years, he led the Tata Group, revenues grew over 40 times, and profit, over 50 times.

Among many other honors accorded him during his career, He is also the recipient of two of the highest civilian awards of India, the Padma Vibhushan (2008) and Padma Bhushan (2000).

How did Ratan Tata deal with challenges?

Ratan Tata had faced many challenges during his tenure at the helm of Tata. Initially, when the group had entered the passenger car business it seemed as if it was a huge error on his part. Tata decided to sell his business struggling passenger vehicle business, Ford officials voiced their interest after a trip to Tata’s Bombay Headquarters.

But when Tata and his team visited Detroit, they were humiliated by Ford. The then chairmen  Bill Ford reportedly said to Tata that he was quite out of his depth. An ex-employee of Tata who was presented in the meeting recalls they were told ‘When you do not know anything, why did you start the passenger car division at all’. They said they will do us a favor by buying our car division.

The humiliation ended when the group decided to return to New York the same evening. Tata was reportedly somber the whole flight.

Tata turned the tide by thriving in the Indian markets. Nine years later Ford was on the verge of bankruptcy after the 2008 global financial meltdown. Tata swooped in and acquired the auto company’s iconic Jaguar Land-Rover brands for $2.3 billion. Ford chairman Bill Ford thanked Ratan Tata, saying “you are doing us a big favor by buying JLR.”

Another testament to Tata’s leadership would be during the  26/11 attacks. Even with the risks surrounding him he stood all alone outside the Taj hotel and supervised the activities to help the victims. He also personally visited the families of all the 80 employees who were killed or injured and even asked the families and dependents as to what they wanted him to do.

Closing Thoughts

“Ups and downs in life are very important to keep us going, because a straight line even in an E.C.G means we are not alive.” – Ratan Tata

In December 2012 Tata retired as chairman of the Tata Group at the age of 75. Despite this Tata has stated that never before has he felt the urge to do more. He has now diverted his efforts towards philanthropic activities and continues to head the groups’ charitable trusts.

Morgen Witzel states that in hindsight, Tata’s ascension in 1991 was the best thing that could have happened to the Tata group. 

Top 10 Indian Philanthropist Businessmen cover

Top 10 Indian Philanthropist Businessmen- Azim Premji, Shiv Nadar, More!

List of Top Indian Philanthropist Businessmen: “Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.” these are the words of once richest man Bill Gates who himself has donated over $36 billion. But do we have businessmen who think similarly to him when it comes to philanthropy in India? Lucky for us we do some who believe in the act of giving.

Today, we take a look at the Top 10 Indian Philanthropist Businessmen. Below are the best Indians who have made significant donations in 2020 – the year we needed it the most.

Top 10 Indian Philanthropist Businessmen for 2020!

1. Azim Premji

Azim Premji

Wipro chairman Azim Premji has topped the list of philanthropists to become India’s most generous person for 2020. The Seventy-four-year-old tech magnates donations amount to Rs. 7,904 crore. Azim Premji is the founder-chairman of Wipro. In 2013, he signed The Giving Pledge to donate at least half of his wealth, a campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

So far he is well on course towards achieving this goal as he has donated $21 billion to Azim Premji Foundation, an education-focused non-profit he founded in 2001.  On April 1, 2020, Azim Premji Foundation (1,000 crores), Wipro (100 crores), and Wipro Enterprises (25 crores) had committed 1,125 crores towards tackling the Covid-19 outbreak. These were in addition to Wipro’s annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. His donations for the last 3 years amounted to Rs. 9143 crores.

2. Shiv Nadar

Shiv Nadar

HCL Technologies’ founder chairman and Padma Bhushan awardee Shiv Nadar comes second on the list. Nadar donated ₹795 crores for charitable causes. Nadar was at the top of the list of India’s most generous billionaires last year. So far Nadar is said to have donated over $900 million through the Shiv Nadar Foundation, impacting over 30,000 students directly. The foundation pursues creative philanthropy.

Among other things, the foundation supports rural education and provides scholarships for underprivileged students to study abroad. Nadar’s wife, Kiran Nadar chairs the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, India’s first private philanthropic art museum exhibiting modern and contemporary works from India and the subcontinent. His donations for the last 3 years amounted to Rs. 2391 crores.

3. Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani

Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani came in third on the list. Mukesh Ambani is the Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries and was born into the billionaire Ambani family.

A majority of his donations were directed towards disaster relief with Rs. 500 crores being donated towards the PM CARES Fund. He also donated Rs. 5 crores each to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund of Maharashtra and Chief Minister’s Relief Fund of Gujarat to support their fights against the Covid-19. The 63-year old billionaire has donated Rs.1297 crores in the last three years.

4. Kumar Mangalam Birla

Kumar Mangalam Birla

 Kumar Mangalam Birla & family ranked fourth on the list. The group has donated Rs. 400 crore to the PM CARES Fund. They also have specifically allocated Rs 50 crore for supplying N95 Masks, PPE’s and ventilators. Their donations for the last 3 years amounted to Rs. 374 crores.

5. Anil Agarwal

Anil Agarwal

The fifth position is occupied by the founder and chairman of Vedanta, Anil Agarwal who donated Rs 215 crore. In September 2014 Anil Agarwal pledged 75 percent of his wealth to charity.

A majority of his donations are directed towards healthcare. His foundation also works towards education and computer literacy, vocational training, women and child empowerment, and community welfare. His donations for the last 3 years amounted to Rs. 352 crores.

6. Ajay Piramal

Ajay Piramal

Ajay Piramal & family rank 6th among the nation’s top philanthropists with donations of Rs. 196 crore. The Piramal family runs a conglomerate that specializes in pharma, healthcare, and financial services. They participate in philanthropic activities through the Piramal Foundation, initiating projects in areas of healthcare, education, livelihood creation, and youth empowerment. His wife Swati is vice-chairman and their children Nandini and Anand serve on the board.

On 31st March 2020, Piramal Group commits Rs. 25 crores to PM CARES Fund. In November 2019, Piramal Foundation and Gates Foundation partner to set up a Tribal Health Collaborative and will work closely with the Government of India to achieve Sustainable Development goals by 2030. Their donations for the last 3 years amounted to Rs. 596 crores.

7. Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani

Co-founder and chairman of Infosys and Chairman of UIDAI ranked 7th with his wife Rohini with a donation of Rs. 159 crore. They too have signed the Giving Pledge in 2017, committing to donate half of their wealth towards philanthropy.

8. Hinduja brothers

Hinduja brothers

The four Hinduja brothers, Srichand, Prakash, Gopichand, and Ashok Hinduja rank 8th on the list with a donation of Rs. 133 crore. They make their donations through the Hinduja Foundation which focuses on Water Stewardship, Healthcare, Education, Rural Development, and Arts and Culture.

9. Gautam Adani 

Gautam Adani

Chairman of Adani Group Gautam Adani claim the 9th spot with donations of Rs. 88 crore. The Adani group handles businesses in ports, energy, agriculture, defense, and aerospace. He is also president of the Adani Foundation, the company’s social responsibility arm founded in 1996. Adani Foundation works in four key areas such as Education, Community Health, Sustainable Livelihood, and Community Infrastructure Development, in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.

It has established the Adani Vidya Mandir, a school for underprivileged children in Ahmedabad, Bhadreshwar, and other states and supports 300 government schools, educating over 100,000 children. On 29 March 2020, Gautam Adani led Adani Foundation announced Rs. 100 crore donation to PM CARES Fund. Their donations for the last 3 years amounted to Rs. 138 crores.

10. Sudhir and Samir Mehta

Sudhir and Samir Mehta

Sudhir and Samir Mehta ranked 10th on the list with Rs. 81 crores in donations. The brothers together operate the Torrent Group. The Mehtas are the second most generous family in Gujarat after Adani’s. The brothers have donated a total of Rs. 138 crores over the last 3 years.

Honorary Mention – Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata

This top philanthropic list would never be complete without mentioning the Padma Bhushan recipient Ratan Tata and family. Ratan Tata follows in the footsteps of Jamsetji Tata and after retirement has taken up the full-time leadership role of Tata Trusts. In fact, Tata Trusts the philanthropic arm owns 66% of the group holding company – Tata Sons.

The trust donates to various causes, some of them being healthcare, education livelihood, water, sanitation and hygiene, skill development, etc. The Trust has donated over 850 million to date. Their recent donation included Rs 500 crore to procure protective equipment for frontline workers, respiratory systems for treatment of increasing cases, and testing kits in the fight against COVID-19.

Closing Thoughts

Today we covered the list of top 10 Indian Philanthropist Businessmen. The above list prepared by Hurun India and EdelGive gives us insights into the philanthropic sector.

The list also includes Binny Bansal in the 21st position. Binny Bansal became the first philanthropist under the age of 40 to enter the philanthropy list which has an average age of 66 years. The list also highlighted the role played by women in running family charitable trusts. Major philanthropic donations are directed towards Education, Healthcare, and disaster relief.

TCS CEO Chandrasekaran appointed the Chairman of Tata Sons

Yesterday, Tata sons announced the appointment of N Chandrasekaran, 53, as the Chairman of the Tata Sons. The holding company of $116 billion group. He is currently the chief executive officer of the largest software company of India, TCS. He will take his post as Chairman from 21st Feb.

TCS also appointed Rajesh Gopinathan as the CEO of the Tata consultancy services. Prior to Thursday’s appointment, Gopinathan served as Chief Financial Officer(CFO) of the company since February 2013.

On Thursday, the Tata Sons board met at their Bombay house (the headquarter of the TATA sons) and chose N Chandrasekaran unanimously. The panel for selection of the chairman is headed by veteran interim chairman Mr Ratan Tata. Other members are TVS Chairman Venu Srinivasan, Bain Capital’s Amit Chandra, former diplomat Ronen Sen and Kumar Bhattacharyya of Warwick University.

N Chandrasekaran

The software engineer who joined TCS in 1987 and became the CEO in 2009. During his years at TCS, the TCS has jumped three fold from Rs 30,ooo crore in 2010 to Rs 1.09 Lakh crore in FY16. Profits also jumpe more than three times (from Rs 7,094 crore to Rs 24,375 crore). TCS now accounts 60% of the Tata group’s combined market cap of $116 billion.

“Chandrasekaran has demonstrated exemplary leadership as the chief executive officer and managing director of TCS. We believe he will now inspire the entire Tata Group to realise its potential, acting as leaders in their respective businesses, always in keeping with our value system and ethics and adhering with the practices of the Tata Group which have stood it in good stead,” Tata Sons said in a statement.

“I will grow into the role over a period of time. It is a responsibility which requires binding the group together. I want to show my gratitude to the board and RNT,” exclaimed Chandrasekaran after the accouterment.

N Chandrasekaran was sure winner, claims some sources as he was an insider who is familiar with TATA culture, experience and working of the group We congratulate N Chandrasekaran for the crown post and will be looking forward for the Chandra’s global experience as the chairman.