Built to last: Brand Tata

Dec 28 2012, 12:00 IST
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Ratan Tata Ratan Tata
SummaryWhen Ratan Tata steps down as leader of the Tata Group, it will be a landmark moment in the group’s history.

of India, and increasingly in other countries as well. As a result, Tata is now perceived by young Indians as a thrusting, innovative, forward-looking company; and this would not have been the case 20 years ago.

The real alchemy here is that all of this has been done without losing sight of fundamental Tata values. Indeed, they underpin the brand and are part of its heart. When I talk about Tata to young Indian students, they tell me that the very things they admire about Tata are its values, its trustworthiness and its belief in people. These are the very same values that Jamshetji N Tata laid down when the group was founded. They are alive today and they continue to help keep the Tata name strong.

The shift towards an international strategy has been slower to develop. Not surprisingly, the group proceeded cautiously down this route at first. There was a lot to learn about international markets customers and international ways of doing business. TCS and, more recently, Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals, Tata Steel and Indian Hotels, have gone further down the track towards internationalisation. Tata’s view has always been, however, that Tata could not remain a purely Indian business. Like India itself, the group had to engage with the outside world. That strategy is now starting to pay dividends. The growth of Tata Motors and Tata Steel, to take just two examples, has been spectacular. And as their business portfolios have begun to increase, so have their international reputations.

Ratan has left the Tata Group a great legacy; it is for others to act upon that legacy. Predicting the future is always dangerous, but I will make a prediction anyway. When the next histories of the Tata Group are written in 20 or 30 years, the name of Ratan Tata will stand alongside those of JN Tata and JRD Tata as one of the great figures in the group’s history.

Life story

Born on December 28, 1937

Ratan Naval Tata is the adoptive great grandson of Tata Group founder Jamshetji Tata. His father Naval Tata was adopted by Sir Ratan Tata from the family of a distant relative. Ratan Naval Tata was the eldest son of Naval Tata from his first marriage to Soonoo Commisariat. Soonoo and Naval separated when Ratan N Tata was seven years old. Ratan and his brother were raised by grandmother Lady Navajbai.

Begins schooling in Bombay

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