Ratan Tata – Entrepreneurial Journey
Ratan Naval Tata is an Indian businessman and chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons. He was born in a famous and a prominent family, belonging to Mumbai’s wealthy Parsi community on 28 December 1937.His childhood was troubled as his parents separated in the mid-1940s. He was seven year old at that time.
Later, he completed his BSc degree in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University in 1962, and the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School in 1975.
Raising of a Great Business Tycoon
He joined the Tata Group in December 1962, after turning down a job with IBM as per the advice of JRD Tata. He was first sent to Jamshedpur to work at Tata Steel. He worked on the floor along with other blue-collar employees, shoveling limestone and handling the blast furnaces.
During the course of time, Ratan Tata proved to be instrumental in ushering in a wide array of reforms. It was under his stewardship that Tata Consultancy Services went public and Tata Motors was listed in the New York Stock Exchange. In 1971 Ratan was appointed the Director-in-Charge of The National Radio & Electronics Company Limited (Nelco). That time Nelco had 2% market share in the consumer electronics market and a loss margin of 40% of sales when Ratan took over. With his handwork and perseverance Nelco eventually grew to have a market share of 20%, and recovered its losses in 1975.
During his tenure he worked as the chairman of major Tata companies such as Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Power, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Tea, Tata Chemicals, The Indian Hotels Company and Tata Teleservices.
Man of Ethics
According to Gopalakrishnan “Tata has shown that there is no other way he will do business other than do it ethically”. He points to the Tata Finance episode (financial irregularities by senior company officials had led to the loss of few hundreds of crore) as an example. At that time, when the loss was yet to be ascertained (estimates ranged from Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore), Tata announced that the holding company would pump in the required money to prevent Tata Finance deposit holders or shareholders from suffering any loss. “By that one action, he gave a message that is far beyond all the speeches he could give in the next 10 years,” he adds.
As a leader he is bold and a man of ideas. Ratan Tata’s leadership quality was displayed in identifying the need to go global very early on. His wisdom in waiting to make the group more competitive before going in for the international push, his skill as a leader in making this theme resonate all over the group, the aggression with which he has won some of these cross-border deals, and his unshakable resolve never to compromise on the ethics and values that the group has cherished for over hundred years now.