A graduate of Cornell University (1962) and Harvard Business School, Ratan Tata was recruited by IBM but chose to start at the bottom, shoveling limestone at his family’s Tata Steel. During the next three decades he gained experience throughout the Tata companies, succeeding J.R.D. Tata as Chairman of Tata Group from 1991 to 2012.
During his tenure, Tata Group grew to include 96 companies with over 500,000 employees in 56 countries. 2014 revenues reached $100 Billion (US).
This growth resulted from his vision of creating India’s largest multi-national through strategic acquisition and concentration in categories where Tata could dominate. Automobiles were key.
Noting the growth of India’s middle-class, analysts projected India to become the third largest new car market in the world. In response, Tata Motors, a producer of industrial components (locomotives and diesel engines), created Indica, India’s first indigenous car, which quickly became the sales leader.
By 2004, Tata Motors debuted on the NYSE and in 2008 introduced Nano, priced under $2,000.00 (US) in India, affording transportation for the masses.
Consistent with Tata’s vision, multi-national acquisitions were on-going. Corus, Europe’s largest steel maker was bought by Tata Steel and the Jaguar and Land Rover brands were acquired from Ford Motor Company.
Those brands fit Tata’s home market portfolio, complementing Tata entries in the domestic SUV market and bringing the upscale, aspirational Jaguar to an increasingly affluent home market. Concurrently, demand for these storied brands was increasing in global markets, fulfilling Tata’s strategic vision of multi-national growth.
Importantly, the proud British heritage of these iconic brands was insured by significant Tata investments in the UK. Recently winning the “Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development”, Tata’s investments in Jaguar/Land Rover saved or created over 33,000 jobs in England while preserving the rich tradition of performance and style that are the signature of these marques.
Clearly, his vision is the reality.