Ratan Naval Tata (born 28 December 1937) is an Indian industrialist, investor, philanthropist, and former chairman of Tata Sons. He was the former chairman of Tata Group, a Mumbai-based global business conglomerate from 1991 till 2012 and again from 24 October 2016 for an interim term, and continues to head its charitable trusts. He is the recipient of two of the highest civilian awards of India–Padma Vibhushan (2008) and Padma Bhushan (2000).
He is an alumnus of the Cathedral and John Connon School, Bishop Cotton School (Shimla), Riverdale Country School, Cornell University and Harvard Business School.
With a strong belief of giving wealth back to the people, Ratan Tata had given about 60-65% of the wealth that he has created from his companies back to people in the form of education, medicine and rural development, making him one of the biggest pursuers of a number of philanthropic endeavours.
Tata began his career in the Tata group in 1961. He started on the shop floor of Tata Steel, shovelling limestone and handling the blast furnace. He could not turn around group companies, NELCO and Empress Mills, which he was given charge of in the 70s. In 1991, J. R. D. Tata stepped down as chairman of Tata Sons, naming him his successor. When he settled down into the new role, he faced stiff resistance from many companies’ heads some of whom had spent decades in their respective companies and rose to become very powerful and influential due to the freedom to operate under J.R.D Tata. He began replacing them by setting a retirement age, and then made individual companies report operationally to the group office and made each contribute some of their profit to build and use the Tata group brand. Innovation was given priority and younger talent was infused and given responsibilities. Under his stewardship, overlapping operations in group companies were streamlined into a synergised whole, with the salt-to-software group exiting unrelated businesses to take on the onslaught of globalisation.
During the 21 years he led the Tata Group, revenues grew over 40 times, and profit, over 50 times. Where sales of the group as a whole, overwhelmingly came from commodities when he took over, the majority sales came from brands when he exited. He boldly got Tata Tea to acquire Tetley, Tata Motors to acquire Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Steel to acquire Corus. All this turned Tata from a largely India-centric group into a global business, with over 65% revenues coming from operations and sales in over 100 countries. He conceptualised the Tata Nano car. As he explained in a recent interview for the Harvard Business School's Creating Emerging Markets project, the development of the Tata Nano was significant because it helped put cars at a price-point within reach of the average Indian consumer.
Ratan Tata relinquished all executive power in the Tata group on 28 December 2012, on turning 75, appointing as his successor, Cyrus Mistry, the 44-year-old son of Pallonji Mistry of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the largest individual shareholder of the group and related by marriage. On 24 October 2016, Cyrus Mistry was removed as the chairman of Tata Sons and Ratan Tata was made interim chairman. The decision went through intense media scrutiny that made many scrutinize the root causes of the sudden removal, and the resultant crisis. On 12 January 2017 Natarajan Chandrasekaran was named as the chairman of Tata Sons, a role he assumed in February 2017.
Recently, he invested his personal savings in Snapdeal - one of India's leading e-commerce website and in Jan 2016 made an undisclosed funding in Teabox — an online store selling premium Indian Tea and CashKaro.com — an online discount coupons and cashback website. Ratan Tata has been making small investments in both early and late stage companies in India. He made investments of INR 0.95 Cr in Ola Cabs and INR 1 Cr in Paytm. In April 2015, it was reported that Tata had acquired a stake in Chinese smartphone start-up Xiaomi, with specific terms undisclosed.In October 2015, he partnered with American Express in investing in Bitcoin venture Abra.In Jan 2016, it was reported that Ratan Tata invested in an online Pet care portal called Dogspot. Recently Tata Motors rolled out the first batch of Tigor Electric Vehicles out of its Sanand factory in Gujarat, to which Ratan Tata Said "Tigor indicates a willingness to fast-forward India's electric dream. The government has set an ambitious target to have only electric cars by 2030.”
In the fall of 2010, HBS Tata related companies and charities donated $50 million for the construction of an executive center.The executive center has been named as Tata Hall, after Ratan Tata (AMP '75), the chairman of Tata Sons. The total construction costs have been estimated at $100 million. The Tata Hall is located in the northeast corner of the HBS campus, the facility is devoted to the Harvard Business School's mid-career Executive Education program. It is seven stories tall with about 155000 gross square feet. It houses approximately 180 bedrooms in addition to academic and multi-purpose spaces.
Board Memberships and affiliations
He is the interim chairman of Tata Sons. He continues to head the main two Tata trusts Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust and their allied trusts, with a combined stake of 66% in Tata Sons, Tata group's holding company.
He has served in various capacities in organizations in India and abroad. He is a member of Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry' and the 'National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council'. He is on the jury panel of Pritzker Architecture Prize – considered to be one of the world's premier architecture prizes.
He is a director on the boards of Alcoa Inc., Mondelez International and Board of Governors of the East-West Center. He is also a member of the board of trustees of University of Southern California, Harvard Business School Board of Dean's Advisors, X Prize and Cornell University.
He is a member on the board of International Advisory Council at Bocconi University
He is also a member of the Harvard Business School India Advisory Board (IAB) since 2006 and previously a member of the Harvard Business School Asia-Pacific Advisory Board (APAB) 2001-2006.
In February 2015, Ratan took an advisory role at Kalari Capital.
Recently, Ratan Tata has also invested an undisclosed amount in Nestaway in February 2016
In October 2016, Tata Sons removed Cyrus Mistry as its chairman, nearly 4 years after he took over the reins of the over $100 billion conglomerate, Ratan Tata made a comeback, taking over the company's interim boss for 4 months. A selection committee has been formed to find a successor in four months. The selection committee comprising Mr. Tata, TVS Group head Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra of Bain Capital, former diplomat Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharya. All of them, except Mr. Bhattacharya, is on the board of Tata Sons.
Honours and awards
Ratan Tata received the Padma Vibhushan in 2008 and Padma Bhushan in 2000, the second and third highest civilian honours awarded by the Government of India.
1. Ratan Tata was born on 28 December 1937 in a rich family. His parents got separated few years later and he and his brother Jimmy were raised by his Grandmother.
- He has a degree in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School.
- In 1961 he got a job opportunity from IBM but rejected it, He joined his family Business but started from bottom. He initially started on the shop floor of Tata Steel, shovelling limestone and handling the blast furnace.
- He was then promoted to Director-In-Charge at the National Radio & Electronics Company Limited. The company was going through a rough financial phase at that time. Ratan suggested Nelco should invest in developing high technology products other than consumer electronics. J.R.D was initially reluctant to do so, due to the financial performance of Nelco, but he still followed Ratan’s suggestions and the company eventually recovered all its damages.
- In 1991, when J. R. D. Tata (his uncle) stepped down as Chairman of Tata Sons, he named Ratan as his successor. He became the group’s fifth chairman.
- Under His Leadership Tata
Group saw consistent success with increase in revenue every year. He
acquired Jaguar, Corus, Land Rover and Tetley which turned an Indian
company into global business players.
- TATA Group is running 96 businesses and out of which 28 Companies are publically listed on the various stock exchanges. Most of these companies were started when Ratan Tata was leading the group.
- Ratan Tata is on the advisory boards of the Mitsubishi Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton, the American International Group and JPMorgan Chase.
- It was Ratan Tata’s dream to launch cheapest car in world so that every common people could buy one. He fulfilled his dream by launching Tata Nano in 2008.
- Ratan Tata was named as Forbes’ Asian Businessman of the Year in 2005. He also received Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhsuhan in 2000 and 2008 respectively.
He worked hard to achieve great heights and went with his guts instead if everyone’s advice to create a fresh outlook. This was what helped him cross his rivals and make a name for himself ultimately creating a legacy that will definitely carry on for years t come.