Time has come for the India’s biggest and most respected business conglomerate – Tata Sons – to start a hunt for a new chairman in place of Mr. Ratan Tata, who retires at the age of 75. As most people are aware that the Tata Group is involved in almost all the varied sectors of the economy, right from the Automobiles to InfoTech to even common-man’s eatery – Salt.
From being an India-centric company, the Tatas have gone far-and-wide across the world with their acquisition of globally renowned brands such as Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Steel group- Corus and Tetley Tea among many others.
As was revealed by Mr. Ratan Tata, almost 65% of the revenue of more than $70 billion now comes from outside of India, but the company still has its headquarters in the Tata House in Mumbai. With the change of guard the company seeks to have a more defined Global image keeping in view its growing global businesses.
A five member committee has been established to nominate a successor for Mr.Ratan Tata. Though, the names of the members of the committee have not been officially revealed, according to well informed sources these include R Gopalakrishnan and R K Krishna Kumar, both executive directors of Tata Sons; N A Soonawala, who retired last month and will represent Sir Dorabji Tata Trust; and A N Singh, managing trustee of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and J R D Tata Trust. Mr. Nusli Wadia, the chairman of the Wadia group would be the outside candidate in the committee. Mr.Ratan Tata himself is not part of the committee but he would have an advisory role.
The majority of the shares of Tata Sons, their holding company, are still held by Parsi family trusts and that most of the board members have been Parsis as well. Due to this fact, the Parsi community has always had a major influence on decision making in the conglomerate.
But, Mr.Ratan Tata has now said that he expects the new chairman to be neither pro-Parsi nor anti-Parsi, indicating that the company wants to move-on from its image of a company run by Parsis-only, in a move powered to give its board a more cosmopolitan look. He also signaled that for the first time in the history of the group founded in 1868, there could be a non-Parsi chairman.
Tata sons have also said that while selecting the new chairman, the company would keep in view it’s global presence as well as the complexities of its varied businesses. Mr.Ratan Tata also stressed that the company should go into good hands and the fact that the good leadership would continue. An able leadership is essential to replicate the stupendous growth that was seen at Tatas with Mr.Ratan Tata at helm.
“The group would require someone with experience and exposure to direct its growth amidst the challenges of the global economy. The selection process for a prospective candidate would consider suitable persons from within the Tata companies, other professionals in India as well as persons overseas with global experience,” Tata Sons said.
The new Chairman is expected to succeed in March and would be advised by Mr.Ratan Tata for some time. One thing is for sure, no matter who is selected to head Tata Sons, filling the shoes of his predecessor would be one tough job. Mr. Ratan Tata, his first name “Ratan” means a Gem in Hindi, was truly a gem of India’s industry. His successor has his job cut out for him.
What do you think – Who will step in his shoes fruitfully?