Ratan Tata: A Phenomenon | World Brand Affairs

Ratan Tata: A Phenomenon


3/24/20233 min read

If innovation had an Indian face, it would definitely look like Ratan Tata. 

Ratan Tata is an Indian industrialist, investor, philanthropist, and the former chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group. He is one of the most prominent figures in the Indian business community and is known for his strategic leadership, innovation, and philanthropic work.

During his tenure as chairman, he transformed the company into a global conglomerate with interests in various industries, including steel, automobiles, technology, and hospitality. He also initiated the group’s expansion into new markets such as Europe, Asia, and North America. He is widely known for his philanthropic work and has established several charitable trusts and foundations that focus on education, healthcare, and rural development in India. In recognition of his contributions to society, he has been awarded several prestigious awards, including the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan, two of India’s highest civilian honors.

The Rising

Though he was born into a wealthy family, Ratan Tata’s childhood was marked by difficulties. His parents, Naval Tata, and Sooni Tata separated when he was only 7 years old, and as a result, he and his brother were raised by their grandmother, Navajbai. He grew up on her values and kept them intact in his and his company’s functioning throughout his life. Always a bright child, he went on to get a postgraduate degree from Harvard University and got placed in IBM. However, he declined it and began his career at Tata Steel in 1961. He started as a blue-collar worker handling the blast furnace and shoveling limestone. Despite being an heir apparent, he opted for a less lucrative job in the company and worked his way up the ranks to become the Chairman of Tata Sons in 1991. 

His journey in numbers 

Under the leadership of Ratan Tata, the Tata Group achieved remarkable success, with revenues growing over 40 times and profits increasing over 50 times during his 21-year tenure. His business empire extends to over 95 countries and encompasses more than 100 different businesses under its management. He is not on the world’s richest list as most of his finances are shared in his trusts and the foundation. However, if taken into account, his net worth would be close to $72 Billion.  

A tale from the visionary 

Back in 1999, Ratan Tata and his team attempted to sell their emerging car business to Ford but were humiliated by Bill Ford, who stated, “You do not know anything, why did you start the passenger car division at all?” Despite this setback, Ratan Tata took the criticism in stride. Nine years later, he achieved sweet revenge when he acquired Ford’s prestigious car brands, Jaguar and Land Rover, for half the price. This acquisition transformed the largely India-centric Tata Group into a global business.

A beacon of ethical leadership

Ratan Tata is widely regarded as an ethical leader who has emphasized the importance of integrity, social responsibility, and ethical behavior in business. He has set high ethical standards for the Tata Group and has consistently acted in accordance with these principles throughout his career. One of Ratan Tata’s most notable examples of ethical leadership was his decision to discontinue the production of Tata Nano despite its monetary success because it failed to meet the safety and environmental standards of TATA Motors. Throughout his journey, he laid emphasis on CSR and continued to work for the development of the country. 

An investor in entrepreneurs 

Apart from his social work, Ratan Tata is also known for being a generous investor. His investments include brands like Alibaba, Paytm, Ola Cabs, Xiaomi, Uber, CureFit, CashKaro, FirstCry, Lenskart, Zivame, Snapdeal, and many more. 

Keeping everything in account, Ratan Tata can’t be called just a business personality but a force of nature and a blessing to India as a country.