Russi Mody was an institution at Tata Steel: Ratan Tata

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on November 24, 2017

Padma Bhushan Rustomji Homusji Mody, popularly known as Russi Mody, passed away at a nursing home in Kolkata on Friday night.

Known for his long-standing association with Tata Steel Ltd, formerly known as Tisco, Mody retired from Tata Steel in March 1993, leaving behind a legacy of 53 years.

Ratan N Tata, Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons Ltd, said Russi Mody was an institution at Tata Steel. "Under his leadership, Tata Steel grew significantly and he instituted many human resource initiatives. He was well regarded and respected by the workforce throughout his tenure. He lived a full and energetic life and will always be remembered by his friends.''

Added Cryus P Mistry, Group Chairman, Tata Sons: "Russi Mody was a stalwart who steered Tata Steel to become one of India’s most respected corporations.''

Through his method of practical wisdom and pragmatic decision-making, Russi Mody led from the front, winning hearts and minds alike. A pioneer in the industry, he understood and implemented concepts such as human resource development long before they became a commonplace management practice.

Son of Sir Homy Mody and Lady Jerbhai, Russi Mody completed his education from the Harrow School and Christ Church College, Oxford, after which he joined the steel company in 1939. He rose through the ranks to become Chairman of the company.

He was promoted to the position of Director of Personnel in 1953, and took up the position of Director of Raw Materials in 1965. In 1970, he was appointed as the Director of Operations, and became Joint Managing Director in 1972.

He then went on to become the Managing Director of Tata Steel in 1974 and on October 23, 1984 he was appointed Chairman and Managing Director of Tata Steel.

Russi Mody’s experience of rising through the ranks from the steel mill lent him a sense of empathy and appreciation for the welfare of workers, with always a finger on their pulse. As he loved saying, ``What is man management? That one must behave naturally with any human being.''

Technological turnaround

Russi Mody was also the forerunner of the technological turnaround at Tata Steel, making it a benchmark for the rest of the steel industry to follow. The Government of India bestowed the Padma Bhushan on Mody in 1989 for his exemplary contribution to the Indian industry.

Even as Russi Mody steered a major modernisation programme of the company, he widened the development initiatives for local communities. Entities like the Tata Steel Rural Development Society and the Tata Football Academy bear testimony to this.

Other Tata Group officials also spoke about how Russi Mody embodied the Tata principles of building trustworthy and socially oriented organisations.

Jamshed J Irani, Former Managing Director, Tata Steel, and Director, Tata Sons Ltd, said: "Russi Mody left his stamp on every activity that he touched. He was a giant among men, and never failed to act convincingly in a manner that he thought was right. For most of the 40-odd years that I knew him, and worked with him, he guided me in my duties and we were great colleagues. We will certainly miss him.''

Added B Muthuraman, Vice-Chairman, Tata Steel: ``Among Russi Mody’s several multi-dimensional characteristics, what stands out is his passion for people, people aspects and people development. He had a knack of spotting talent and giving opportunity to potential leaders, and all this without the help of the current day performance appraisals, and various tests. He was an excellent judge of people. He would `test' potential leaders by throwing into totally new territory and watch their performance in the new surroundings.''

H M Nerurkar, former Managing Director, Tata Steel, said: ``Our nation has lost a great human being who realised the importance of excellence in all facets of management and globalisation earlier than many of his peers, thereby laying the foundation for the company to grow in the liberalised economy. He will always be remembered for the difference he made to the life of employees of Tata Steel. May his soul rest in peace.''

T V Narendran, Managing Director, Tata Steel, India and SEA, said: ``Russi Mody has been an iconic leader not only for Tata Steel, but also for India. His connect with people in the organisation and the communities around us, was legendary. I joined Tata Steel when he was the Chairman and Managing Director and had the privilege of seeing him at work. He was a multi-faceted personality and knew how to lead a full life. On behalf of all my colleagues at Tata Steel, both past and present, I salute Russi Mody.''

Russi Mody will always be remembered for his passion and humility. At the helm of affairs at Tata Steel, he was a prolific professional, always true to himself. He demonstrated the value of human resource and the importance of the workers that form the foundation of any successful enterprise.


Published on May 17, 2014

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