Ratan Naval Tata is Chairman of the Tata Group, India’s largest conglomerate recently in the global automotive and global business spotlight for its debut of the world’s least expensive car its purchased of Lexus and Land Rover from Ford Motor Company.
Born Dec. 28, 1937, Tata’s dream was to manufacture a car costing 100,000 rupees (the Indian currency) which converts to about $2,500. He realized his dream by launching three models of The Nano at the New Delhi Auto Expo on Jan. 10, 2008.
On March 26, 2008, Tata Motors announced it had purchased Jaguar & Land Rover from Ford Motor Company for $2.3 billion.
Raised in the famous Tata family of Mumbai, Ratan Tata is the son of Soonoo and Naval Hormusji Tata, a Gujarati-speaking Parsi family.
Ratan is the great grandson of Tata group founder Jamsedji Tata. Ratan’s childhood was troubled. His parents separated when he was seven years old and his younger brother Jimmy was five. His mother moved out and their grandmother Lady Navajbai raised both Ratan and his brother.
Ratan attended the Campion School in Mumbai and graduated from Cornell University in 1962 with a degree in Architecture and Structural Engineering.
Ratan joined the Tata Group in December 1962, when he was sent to Jamshedpur to work at Tata Steel. He worked on the floor along with other blue-collar employees, shoveling limestone and handling the blast furnaces.
In 1971, Ratan was appointed the Director-in-Charge of The National Radio & Electronics Company Limited (Nelco), a company in dire financial difficulty. Ratan suggested the company invest in developing high-technology products, rather than in consumer electronics.
The company was reluctant due to the historical financial performance of Nelco which had never paid regular dividends. But in three years beginning in 1972, Nelco grew to have a 20 percent market share and recovered its losses.
In 1977, Ratan was entrusted with Empress Mills, a textile mill controlled by the Tatas that was also financially unstable. Ratan turned the company around.
In 1981, Ratan was named Chairman of Tata Industries, the Group’s other holding company, where he became responsible for transforming it into the Group’s strategy think-tank and a promoter of new ventures in high-technology businesses.
In 1991, Ratan took over as group chairman of Tata Industries, pushing out the old guard and ushering in younger managers. Since then, he has been instrumental in reshaping the fortunes of the Tata Group, which today has the largest market capitalization of any business house on the Indian Stock Market.
Under Ratan’s guidance, Tata Consultancy Services went public and Tata Motors was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1998, Tata Motors introduced his brainchild, the Tata Indica.
On January 31st, 2007, under the chairmanship of Ratan Tata, Tata Sons successfully acquired Corus Group, an Anglo-Dutch steel and aluminum producer. With the acquisition, Ratan Tata became a celebrated personality in Indian corporate business culture. The merger created the fifth largest steel producing entity in the world.
A shy man, Ratan Tata drives himself to work in a Tata car and has lived for years in a book-crammed, dog-filled bachelor flat in Mumbai’s Colaba district.
On Jan. 26, 2000, India’s 50th Republic Day, on 26 January 2000, Ratan Tata was honored with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian decoration. Two years later to the day, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest civilian decoration.