The Inspiring Life Story of Ratan Tata

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Once Ratan Tata quoted, “I don’t believe in taking right decisions. I take decisions and then make it right.” 

Ratan Tata’s Early Life

On 28 December 1937, a philanthropist was born in Mumbai, India. He is the son of Naval Tata and the grandchild of Hormusji Tata. He is related to Tata group founder Jamshedji Tata, the husband of his biological maternal grandmother, Hirabai Tata. So, Ratan Tata is a Tata by birth.

Ratan Tata was raised by his grandmother as his parents separated when he was merely 10 years old. He has led an exemplary life inspiring millions of career aspirants around the globe.

Born with a golden spoon, Ratan Tata proved himself to be an excellent leader and a business owner. Ratan Tata’s first language is Gujarati.

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Academic life

Academic life and the early childhood years have a profound impact in shaping the personality of a person, and so it turned out to be in Ratan Tata’s case. Ratan Tata did his early schooling in Mumbai. He studied at Campion School, Cathedral, and John Connon School in Mumbai. Soon after, he went to Shimla to study at Bishop Cotton School.

For further studies, Ratan Tata went to New York’s Cornell University in 1962 to study architecture and structural engineering. And, then began his professional journey of being a Tata as he joined Tata Group.

Ratan Tata was promoted to management during the 1970s in the Tata group. With his sheer skills and talent, he was soon able to turn Group company National Radio and Electronics (NELCO) around, which later, unfortunately, collapsed during economic turmoil.

Ratan Tata is a visionary who could scale up the Tata group of companies through his dedication. He worked with Tata Motors (earlier known as TELCO) and Tata Steel (TISCO) before being appointed as the Tata industry Chairman in 1991. He was the fifth chairman of Tata Group, succeeding J.R.D. Tata, who was his uncle.

Exemplary business skills of Ratan Tata

Ratan cut down the number of companies in Tata Group from over 300 to invest in new budding businesses that showed growth potential. Ratan Tata is a true visionary in every way. Tata Group acquired multiple overseas brands to expand its reach. For instance, Tata tea acquired Tetley, a UK-based brand in 2000 for 407 million$. Tetley is sold out as Tata Tea which is a product of Tata Consumer Products Limited. It is now sold world over in more than 40 countries.

He turned around various companies under his supervision and generated huge revenues. Tata Son’s ventures from salt to software turned into a 100 billion$ group, under Ratan Tata’s tenure.

Under Ratan Tata’s initiative, Tata Motors acquired Daewoo Commercial Vehicles in 2004 for 102 million$. It was the biggest take-over of a Korean company by an Indian company. In 2007, Ratan Tata acquired Corus, an Anglo-dutch steel maker for 12.2 billion dollars. This deal led Tata-Corus to become the fifth largest steel maker in the world.

Ratan Tata’s sharp business acumen was yet again proven a year later, when Tata Motors acquired two British cars brands, Jaguar and Land Rover. This was an acquisition with Ford which costed 2.3 billion$ to Tatas. It was Ratan Tata who drove the entire acquisition campaign, and in 2017, JLR’s revenue topped 34 billion dollars.

In 2008, there was another feather added to the leadership hat of Ratan Tata, who launched, Tata Nano, the cheapest car in the world. Nano was launched in an Auto Expo and became a subject of case study in all Top-B school across the globe.

Once, during heavy rains in Mumbai, Ratan Tata saw a family of four riding on a bike. There were two kids travelling with their parents in heavy rains on a bike. The kids were sandwiched between father and mother. This provoked the idea of coming up with a cheap affordable car for low middle class consumers who are left at the fury of weather. This is how, Ratan Tata devised Tata Nano, to bring respite in the lives of such people.

Ratan Tata has been an excellent leader, with sharp decisiveness, fairness, enthusiasm, integrity, endurance and business skills. He served Tata group for 50 years. At 75, he retired from Chairmanship of Tata Group in 2012, after hiring a suitable person to fill in the gap. Ratan Tata’s successor was Cyrus Mistry, who was the son of Pallonji Mistry of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group. He was the largest individual shareholder of the group.

But, Cyrus Mistry was suddenly removed from Chairmanship in 2016. His sudden removal was heavily scrutinised by the media. Ratan Tata was appointed as the interim Chairman immediately. A big selection committee was formed to hire a new chairman. The committee comprised of

Mr. Tata, Amit Chandra of Bain Capital, TVS Group head Venu Srinivasan former diplomat Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharya. On 12 January 2017, Natarajan Chandrasekaran was named as the Chairman of Tata Sons.

Nothing much has changed post the retirement of Ratan Tata, as he placed strong policies, practices and SOP’s under his tenure to follow. Ratan Tata is still actively involved in scouting new start-ups for investments. He recently bought stakes in multiple start-ups that showed potential of growth. Ratan Tata is also actively involved in Tata Trust which is a Charitable Tata organisation. Tata Trust is aimed at overcoming child malnutrition, healthcare, social justice and healthcare.

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Being Tata was not easy for Ratan Tata

Unfortunately, Ratan Tata faced a lot of resistance from other top executives of Tata, soon after taking over as Chairman. Many of them had been working in companies under Tata group from decades and had become very powerful. This was also partly due to the fact that JRD Tata gave a lot of freedom to them.

Ratan Tata faced this opposition boldly by replacing his opponents by setting up an official retirement age. He further asked the individual companies under Tata group to report operationally to group office. He also collected some funds from each of the companies to grow and strengthen the Tata brand further.

Ratan Tata, though had inherited his place from his predecessors, yet he was seasoned enough to handle his craft. He gave a lot of priority to innovative thinking and younger talent was hired and given responsibilities. His leadership ensured that all operations were organised to create a synergy in working. All the irrelevant businesses were chucked off by Ratan Tata to target overseas market. In 1991, JRD Tata retired from chairmanship, naming Ratan Tata as a successor.

Tata as India’s biggest business brand

Tata was started in the year 1868. Since then, it has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, if you list down the top companies in India, then 4 out 5 companies belong to Tata group. Tata gained its global recognition by collaborating with multiple international brands.

There are 96 brands operating under Tata umbrella, out of which 36 are publicly listed like Titan, Tata Steel, etc. The total market capitalisation is about 130 billion$.

Tata’s business Strategies

The first 21 years of leading Tata Group as Chairman by Ratan Tata, created new benchmarks for the company’s success. Tata’s revenues grew over 40 times and its profits grew over 50 times. Tata’s business strategies of buying out promising global brands or acquiring a few of them, helped Tata to emerge as a global leader. Tata was no longer restrained within the Indian boundaries, but its collaboration with Tetley and Corus, just showcased its potential to the world.

Tata’s 65% revenues started coming from sales in more than 100 countries across the globe. It was Ratan Tata’s sharp business acumen that led to the formation of Tata Nano. He wanted to launch a car within the reach of an Indian consumer, which he disclosed in one of the interviews given to Harvard Business School Emerging Markets Project.

Tata also ventured in Snapdeal (India’s leading e-commerce website) in 2016, Teabox (online premium tea seller), and cashkaro.com (a discount coupon and cash-back website). Ratan Tata evaluated the business investment opportunities and invested in companies both in early as well as late stages.

He invested 0.95 Crores in Ola Cabs, which was an upcoming promising venture. In April 2015, Tata had partnered with Chinese Smartphone Xiaomi. In October 2015, Tata ventured into partnership with American Express, and invested in Bitcoin Venture Abra. In 2016, Ratan Tata invested in Nestaway, which is an online real estate portal to scout for fully furnished flats for bachelors. Nestaway later acquired Zenify to venture into family rental market segment and online pet care portal, Dogspot.

Apart from these investments under the leadership of Ratan Tata, Tata Motors invented its first batch of Tata Electric Vehicles. These vehicles are manufactured in Gujarat. Electric vehicles is an ambitious target of Indian government to have only electric cars on Indian roads by 2030.

Ratan Tata’s Social media handles

Twitter: Ratan N. Tata (@RNTata2000)

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ratantata/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ratantata.aks/

Ratan Tata as one of the world’s leading philanthropist

Ratan Tata is a leading philanthropist in India. He actively engages in social welfare in other countries too. Tata invests a lot of money in education, rural development and healthcare.

Tata financed development of capacitive deionisation at University of New South Wales Faculty of Engineering to provide water for challenged areas.

Tata Trust gave a scholarship fund worth 28 million $ to Cornell University to provide financial aid to undergraduate Indian students. These scholarships allow 20 students to pursue undergraduate courses at Cornell University irrespective of their financial health. The scholarship will be awarded annually and the recipients will receive the scholarship for the entire duration of their undergraduate study at Cornell.

In the year 2010, Tata Group contributed a massive amount of 50 million$ to construct an executive centre at Harvard Business School (HBS). The executive Hall at HBS has been named, ‘Tata Hall’ to honour Ratan Tata. The construction cost of this hall is 100 million$ and it is used for mid-career Executive educational programs. The hall is seven stories tall and has about 155,000 gross square feet of area. There are 180 bedrooms in this hall along with academic and multi-purpose spaces.

Tata donated 35million$ to Carnegie Mellon University to research in cognitive systems and autonomous vehicles. There was a hall built in 48,000 square foot area using this donation and was named TCS Hall.

In 2014, Tata Group gave the largest ever donation in the Indian history worth 950 million dollars to Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Using this money, a formal Tata Center for Technology and Design (TCTD) has been created to develop design and engineering principles for uplifting communities with limited resources.

Tata Group, also contributed to the development of MIT Tata Center of Technology and Design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT). This centre was developed to address the challenges of resource-constrained communities, with an initial focus on India.

Ratan Tata launched an in-home water-purification device by the name Tata Swach for merely 1000 Rs.

When 26/11 attacks shattered the world, Tata came forward and supported their employees during the terrorist attack, by making sure that the staff get their salaries on time. Due to chaos, the hotels were dysfunctional but Tata ensured that its employees don’t suffer due to its financial loss.

Tata is extremely conscious of their employee welfare. They devised modern pension system and introduced maternity leaves, medical facilities and other benefits for the welfare of their employees throughout the country. Ratan Tata also gave money to employees at railways, market vendors, police stations, including pedestrians.

In one of his recent endeavours, Ratan Tata announced 70 million$ worth of donation to construct Tata Institute of Genetics and Society in Bengaluru. This centre will work on modifying the DNA of mosquito to eradicate malaria from India. Ratan Tata will be the trustee of this institute.

When COVID-19 suddenly seeped in, Tata Trust announced a donation of staggering 500 crores to buy PPE kits and other necessary things to fight the infection.

Vision of Ratan Tata

In the words of Ratan Tata, “What I would like to do is to leave behind a sustainable entity of a set of companies that operate in an exemplary manner in terms of ethics, values and continue what our ancestors left behind.”

Ratan Tata has guarded the brand image of Tata strictly. Under his stewardship, Tata always has been making the headlines for all the right reasons. Tata is the biggest business brand that contributed immensely in the growth and development of India. In one of his recent unique endeavours, Ratan Tata wrote some insights on how businesses should be carried out post COVID-19. He did this to help lakhs of businesses to steer through the storm of sudden pandemic. Ratan Tata is truly an inspiration for the world and youngsters look upto him.

Board memberships and affiliations

You would be surprised to know that about 66 percent of Tata Sons is held by philanthropic trusts who is controlled by Tata’s family members. Two of the largest of these trusts are Sir Ratan Tata Trust and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust.

Ratan Tata has served in different capacities in India and overseas. He is an active member of Prime Minister’s ‘Council on Trade and Industry’ and the ‘National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council’.

Ratan Tata is on the jury panel of Pritzker Architecture Prize, the world’s premier architecture prizes.

Ratan Tata is a director on the boards of Alcoa Inc., Mondelez International and Board of Governors of the East-West Center. Since 2006, Ratan Tata is also a member of the Harvard Business School India Advisory Board (IAB), and previously a member of the Harvard Business School Asia-Pacific Advisory Board (APAB) 2001–2006.

In 2013, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Ratan Tata also took an advisory role at Kalari Capital, which is a venture capital firm founded by Vani Kola. Ratan Tata 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. Ratan Tata is also on the board of International Advisory Council at Bocconi University.

Businesses done by Tata

 The Tata group comprises over 100 operating companies spread across six continents.

Significant Tata affiliates include:

Tata Chemicals, Tata Communications, Tata Cliq, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Consumer Products, Tata Motors, Tata Elxsi, Tata Steel, Tata Power, Jamshedpur FC, Voltas, Tanishq, Tata Projects Limited, Titan, Tata Capital, Trent, TajAir, Indian Hotels Company Limited, Cromā, Vistara, and Tata Starbucks.

Awards and Honours

Ratan Tata is the recipient of the highest national awards bestowed by Indian government to its most-skilled and extra-ordinary civilians. He received the second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, in 2008, and the third highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan in 2000.

Ratan Tata is also a trained pilot. He has a licence for flying F-16. He is the very first civilian to hold such licence.

Notable Awards received by Ratan Tata includes:

  1. Honorary Doctor of Business Administration bestowed by Ohio State University
  2. Medal of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay awarded by Government of Uruguay
  3. Honorary Doctor of Technology awarded by Asian Institute of Technology
  4. International Distinguished Achievement Award awarded by B’nai B’rith International
  5. Honorary Doctor of Science awarded by University of Warwick
  6. Honorary Doctor of Science awarded by Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
  7. Responsible Capitalism Award For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST)
  8. Honorary Fellowship awarded by The London School of Economics and Political
  9. Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy awarded by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  10. Honorary Doctor of business — Singapore Management University
  11. Sayaji Ratna Award awarded by Baroda Management Association
  12. Honarary Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE) awarded by United Kingdom Government
  13. Honorary Doctor of Laws awarded by York University, Canada
  14. Honarary Doctor of Automotive Engineering awarded by Clemson University
  15. Sayaji Ratna Award awarded by Baroda Management Association, Honoris Causa, HEC Paris
  16. Commander of the Legion of Honour awarded by Government of France
  17. Honorary Doctorate awarded by Swansea University

Ratan Tata’s Net Worth

Ratan Tata’s net worth is 1 billion dollars which is equal to Rs. 7416 crore in Indian currency. His monthly income is 90+ crores and his annual income is 820+ crores.

Ratan Tata’s Assets

Ratan Tata owns a house in Mumbai (India) where he resides. He bought this luxury house in the year 2015. This house is estimated to be worth around Rs. 150 Crores. He owns multiple properties across India.

Ratan Tata owns multiple cars, few of which are the best luxury cars in the world. He owns Cadillac XLR, Mercedes Benz, Range Rover, Honda Civic, Maserati Quattroporte, Chrysler Sebring, Ferrari, Buick Super 8, Jaguar and Tata.

Is Ratan Tata the richest man in the world? 

The answer to this question is, ‘No, Ratan Tata is not the richest man in the world.’ Despite having staggering turnover which is bigger than what Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos make, Ratan Tata is not the richest man.

Well, there is an interesting story behind that. Ratan Tata is a man of ideologies, ethics and values. He doesn’t relate his success by getting ranked on Forbe’s top list but believes genuinely in giving back to the society.

Would you believe that Ratan Tata donates 65% of his money to charitable causes? Any revenues generated across the world never affects his personal account, rather is given to charitable organisations.

His personal net worth never goes beyond 1 billion dollar mark.

Interesting facts about Ratan Tata

  1. Ratan Tata wanted to marry a girl who he fell in love with, while working in New York. But, destiny played its role, as he had to relocate back to India to be with his ailing grandmother and the girl refused to relocate with him.
  2. Tata has a lot of love for animals. The tradition is that the headquarters of Tata Sons, has a kennel for stray dogs, which lets them in during rainy weather.
  3. When Ratan Tata joined Tata in the beginning, he was given the job of managing the blast furnace and shoving limestone. His first job was managing operations on the shop floor of Tata Steel in 1961.
  4. It was because of Tata’s pragmatic business skills, he led merger and acquisitions with multiple business conglomerates that sky rocketed Tata’s revenues.
  5. Ratan Tata earned his ethics from his grandmother who raised him post his parents separation. He learnt to stand up with dignity at every adverse situation from her. He owes the biggest moral lessons of his life to his grandmother.
  6. In 2009, he envisioned Tata Nano car, the cheapest car of India worth Rs 1 lakh and rolled it out in the market. Tata Nano scaled up Tata’s competency at global level.

Ratan Tata is truly a man of ethics and principles. The biggest lesson he has taught to us is that no matter what happens, never compromise on your principles and ethics.

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