One of the most well known and successful industrialists in India, Ratan Naval Tata, 73, is the Chairman of Tata Sons and Tata Group. At the age of 73, Tata is one of the country’s largest unions which comprises of nearly 100 firms. Combining the revenue of all the firms, the total stands at USD 67 Billion. Ratan Tata is also the Chairman of major Tata companies like Tata Steels, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Tea, Tata Chemicals, Tata Teleservices, The Indian Hotels Company and etc.

Early life

Rattan Naval Tata was born on 23rd December 1937, in Mumbai, in one of the richest families. His great grandfather Jamsedji Tata was the founder of the Tata Group. In his teenage, Ratan Tata had a disturbed childhood after his parents split. Tata was brought up by his grandmother Navajbai in the lap of luxury at The Tata Palace. After his high school studies, Ratan Tata went to America for his graduation in Architectural and Structural engineering. Later, he also pursued the management course from Harvard University in the US.

In the year 1962, Ratan Naval Tata had his first job which involved working with the Tata Steel division in Jamshedpur. There he worked with blue-collar employees shoveling stones and with furnaces. After this, he was appointed in NELCO (National Radio & Electronics Company Limited) as Director-in-Charge and was successful in turning NELCO around.

Ratan Tata, later, worked on his way to become the Chairman of Tata Industries. It was in his service that Tata Consultancy Services went public and Tata Motors got listed into the New York Stock Exchange giving it more international strength and recognition. During his service, the company witnessed the launch of India’s first truly Indian car Indica. This car was the brandchild of Tata Motors. In the year 2000, Tata’s food subsidiary acquired Tetley for GBP 70 Million. In the year 2010, the Tata Group’s revenue had grown by nearly 12 times, totaling USD 67.4 Billion.

Awards

In the year 2000, Ratan Tata was honored with Padma Bhushan by the Indian Government. Tata was also honored with a doctorate in Business Administration by Ohio State University. He has also conferred an honorary doctorate in technology in Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok and an honorary doctorate in Science by the University of Warwick. Over 2/3rd of the Tata group is owned by various charitable trusts that finances for good causes.

Ratan Tata sets a perfect example of generosity and leadership during the 26/11 attack at Taj Hotel in Mumbai. He stood all alone outside the Taj Hotel to help the victims of the terrorist attack. By personally visiting the families of all 80 victims, he showcased his humble and humane gesture. He also asked the families of the victims as to what they wanted him to do.

Ratan Tata’s retirement may still be a year away, but Tata Group has already worked on the plans after his retirement. He designed & developed various innovative concepts, the most popular being Nano. Ratan Tata created Nano for the safety of families commuting on 2-wheelers, who are not able to afford a car. He created the cheapest car for the safety of nuclear families.

Challenges faced

Being rich, Ratan Tata too had to face challenges in his life. In 1971, when he was appointed as the Director-in-Charge at NELCO, he was struggling to bring the company to profit as the company fell into the losses of 40% and market share hardly 2%. Under the guidance of Ratan Tata, the company soon claimed a 25% share in the consumer electronics market. Just when he turned around the company, the blow came when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared emergency in the country. The company struggled hard but eventually, it did not survive.

The second failure came when he was entrusted with the assignment of nurturing a loss-making venture, Empress Mill in 1977. He turned around the company to some extent. But to bring the company fully into profit, he needed the investment of Rs. 50 lakhs. The investment was refused by the management and the company did not survive.

With multiple failures, he did not stop. He emerged as a winner and under his tenure, Tata Tea acquired Tetley, Tata Steel acquired Corus, Tata Motors acquired Land Rover and Jaguar. This turned the company from India-centric to global business, with 65% of the total revenue coming from abroad.

Ratan Tata sets a perfect example of coming out of the circle of failure and emerging as the winner. For more inspirational stories, watch this section closely.