Ratan Naval Tata, GBE (born 28 December 1937) is an Indian businessman, investor, philanthropist and former chairman of Tata Sons. He was the chairman of Tata Group, a Mumbai-based global business conglomerate from 1991 till 2012 and again from 24 October 2016 for 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 prestigious Cathedral and John Connon School, Bishop Cotton School (Shimla), Cornell University & Harvard Business School.
Ratan Tata is the son of Naval Tata, who had been adopted from J. N. Petit Parsi Orphanage by Navajbai Tata. His parents Naval and Sonoo separated in the mid-1940s when he was ten and his younger brother, Jimmy, was seven years old. Both he and his brother were raised by their grandmother Navajbai Tata. He has a half-brother Noel Tata from Naval Tata's second marriage to Simone Tata.
He schooled in Mumbai and Shimla, at the Cathedral and John Connon School and Bishop Cotton School (Shimla). He received a B.S. degree in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University in 1962, and the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School in 1975.
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 company 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 JRD 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 will assume 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 startup Xiaomi, with specific terms undisclosed. In Jan 2016, it was reported that Ratan Tata invested in an online Pet care portal called Dogspot.
In the fall of 2010, HBS Tata related companies and charities donated $50 million for the construction of an executive center.
The executive center have 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 150,000 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 organisations in India and abroad. He is a member of the '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 come back, 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, are 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.
The other notable awards are:
|2016||Commander of the Legion of Honour||Government of France|
|2015||Sayaji Ratna Award||Baroda Management Association, Honoris Causa, HEC Paris|
|2015||Honorary Doctor of Automotive Engineering||Clemson University|
|2014||Honorary Doctor of Laws||York University, Canada|
|2014||Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE)||United Kingdom Government|
|2014||Sayaji Ratna Award||Baroda Management Association|
|2014||Honorary Doctor of Business||Singapore Management University|
|2013||Honorary Doctorate||University of Amsterdam|
|2013||Honorary Doctor of Business Practice||Carnegie Mellon University|
|2013||Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Lifetime Achievement||Ernst & Young|
|2013||Transformational Leader of the Decade||Indian Affairs India Leadership Conclave 2013|
|2013||Foreign Associate||National Academy of Engineering|
|2012||Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun||Government of Japan|
|2012||Doctor of Business honoris causa||University of New South Wales|
|2012||Honorary Fellow||The Royal Academy of Engineering|
|2010||Business Leader of the Year||The Asian Awards.|
|2010||Business for Peace Award||Business for Peace Foundation|
|2010||Honorary Doctor of Laws||Pepperdine University|
|2010||Legend in Leadership Award||Yale University|
|2010||Oslo Business for Peace award||Business for Peace Foundation|
|2010||Hadrian Award||World Monuments Fund|
|2010||Honorary Doctor of Law||University of Cambridge|
|2009||Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic||Italy|
|2009||Life Time Contribution Award in Engineering for 2008||Indian National Academy of Engineering|
|2009||Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)||United Kingdom|
|2008||Inspired Leadership Award||The Performance Theatre|
|2008||Honorary Fellowship||The Institution of Engineering and Technology|
|2008||Honorary Citizen Award||Government of Singapore|
|2008||Honorary Doctor of Science||Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.|
|2008||Honorary Doctor of Science||Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.|
|2008||Honorary Doctor of Law||University of Cambridge.|
|2007||Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy||Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.|
|2007||Honorary Fellowship||The London School of Economics and Political Science|
|2006||Responsible Capitalism Award||FIRST|
|2006||Honorary Doctor of Science||Indian Institute of Technology Madras|
|2005||Honorary Doctor of Science||University of Warwick.|
|2005||International Distinguished Achievement Award||B'nai B'rith International|
|2004||Honorary Doctor of Technology||Asian Institute of Technology.|
|2004||Medal of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay||Government of Uruguay|
|2001||Honorary Doctor of Business Administration||Ohio State University|