From Salt to Cars to Software – Ratan Tata, the Master of All

Ratan Tata is one of the most well-known Indian industrialists. He is the former chairman of the Tata Group, a business conglomerate that is the face of Indian industry abroad. As the chairman of Tata Group, Ratan has headed almost 100 companies under the Tata umbrella. He has been the chairman of several Tata companies such as Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Teleservices, Tata Tea, Tata Chemicals, Tata Power and The Indian Hotels Company.

Ratan Tata was born in what was then the Bombay Presidency, and is an alumnus of Cornell University and Harvard Business School. Ratan began his career in the Tata Group in 1961, working on the shop floor of a Tata Steel factory. In the 1970s, he was promoted to management level and was appointed as director-in-charge of National Radio and Electronics (NELCO). In four years he managed to turn the company around, only to see it collapse during an economic slowdown and due to labour problems. In 1991, J.R.D. Tata stepped down from his position as Chairman of Tata Sons, naming Ratan as his successor.

When he took over the reins of the Tata Group, he made several changes to the way business affairs were handled. He began replacing older managers by setting a retirement age, made each company individually report operations data to the group office and contribute a part of their profits towards the Tata Group brand. He emphasised on innovation and hiring younger talent. He streamlined overlapping operations into a synergised whole, and rationalised its businesses to prepare itself for globalisation.

In his 21 years of being the chairman of Tata Group till his retirement in 2012, Ratan Tata saw revenues grow by over 40 times and profits by over 50 times. During his tenure, he led an extensive acquisition spree that expanded the Tata Group to the almost-100 company conglomerate it is today. Tata companies now produce virtually everything from salt to cars to power, tea and coffee. Ratan Tata shook up the business world when he acquired prestigious international brands such as the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus and the highly regarded Jaguar and Land Rover.

One of the most powerful leaders with outstanding business acumen, Ratan Tata is our Xpert on business management. Get to know his life story, his philosophies, visions and the lessons that he learnt on Xpert. Learn how the Tata Group got where it is today under his leadership. Ask Ratan Tata a question and get his tips on how you can run your business more efficiently.

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