Delhi: From fighting fiefdoms to catapulting Tata Group to an over USD 80 billion conglomerate, Ratan N Tata's legacy will be a hard task to emulate.
At the helm of affairs for over two decades, Tata's journey has seen Tatas transforming itself into a global conglomerate with landmark acquisitions of Corus and Jaguar Land Rover, among others.
An architect by qualification, Tata is also credited with pioneering the world's cheapest car Nano.
Tata, who joined the Group way back in 1962, became the Chairman of its holding company Tata Sons in 1991 amid stiff resistance from within.
"We had fiefdoms that were going in different directions... We had companies in the same business competing with one another. We had uncontrolled entry into new businesses," Tata was quoted as saying in the book 'The Evolution of Corporate Brand' that reminisces about the group in the late 1980s.
The book, penned by Morgen Witzel, was released in 2010.
The 74-year-old patriarch is known for his simplicity and is credited with turning around the group, whose revenues stood at over USD 83 billion in 2010-11, with 58 percent of the total amount coming from overseas businesses.
After serving in various group companies, he was appointed Director-in-Charge of the National Radio and Electronics Company in 1971.
Ten years later, he was named Chairman of Tata Industries, the group's other promoter holding company, where he was responsible for transforming it into a group strategy think-tank, and a promoter of new ventures in high technology businesses.
According to the book 'The Evolution of Corporate Brand', efforts to make the companies work together as a meaningful and recognizable group were resisted with great vigour, and some executives like Tata Steel's then chief Russi Mody solved the problem by stepping down.
Recalling the early days of Ratan Tata at the helm of affairs, the book said that he had assigned himself the target of consolidating the group.
As a first step for which Tata Sons slowly started hiking its share in each group firms to 26 percent as it had fallen over the past decades.
"We set ourselves the task of seeing how we could put ourselves together as a more meaningful and recognizable group of companies with more central control," Ratan Tata had said in the book.
Ratan Tata is on the board of various global companies including Fiat SpA and Alcoa as well as on the advisory panels of Mitsubishi Corp, the American International Group, Rolls Royce and Temasek Holdings, among others.
A Padma Vibushan awardee, he is also a member of the Indian Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry.
He completed Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 1975.
First Published: Thursday, December 27, 2012, 12:57