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He was my greatest mentor: Ratan Tata speaks about JRD Tata

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 20, 2020 Published on February 20, 2020

Ratan Tata. File photo   -  K_R_DEEPAK

In the photo-series, the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons elaborates on his business ventures and personal life

Official Humans of Bombay on Wednesday shared snippets of Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata’s life in the second part of its photo-series on the business tycoon.

In the first part of the series which went viral, Tata had shared his personal life experiences from his time in London, his marriage to the memories of his grandmother who had been strong support for the ex-Tata chief.

In the latest post shared by Official Humans of Bombay on photo-sharing platform Instagram, Tata talked a bit more about his grandmother along with his experience taking over as the chairman of Tata Sons.

“After the move, I did spend some time with my grandmom. I’d run with my dog, catch up with her car & we’d have long chats. I’m glad I got that time with her before she passed, because right after, I moved to Jamshedpur for an internship at what’s known as Tata Motors now,” the post read.

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(2/3) After the move, I did spend some time with my grandmom. I’d run with my dog, catch up with her car & we’d have long chats. I’m glad I got that time with her before she passed, because right after, I moved to Jamshedpur for an internship at what’s known as Tata Motors now. It was a waste of time–I was moved from one department to another & was looked at as a family member, so no one told me what to do–but I spent 6 months trying to be ‘useful’. It was only after I moved to Tata Steel that I got specific work & my job got interesting. I started from the floor & really understood the plight of those working there. So years later, when we downsized Tata Steel from 78,000 to 40,000, we ensured to pay them their present day wages until retirement–it’s been in our DNA to serve those who serve us. By the time I finished 6 years in Jamshedpur, architecture had become a hobby–I enjoyed designing homes for my mom & I, but apart from that, my life was dedicated to the business. In 1991, JRD stepped down as the Chairman of Tata Industries. At first, there was no criticism, but when he stepped down from Tata Sons, there was vicious criticism. There were other aspirants for the position, who were vocal of him having made the wrong decision. I’d been through this before, so I did what I knew best–maintained a dignified silence & focused on proving myself. The criticism was personal–JRD got clubbed with nepotism & I, as the wrong choice. I was under scrutiny, but the time I spent on the floor served as a big plus! All in all, it was a big move. I remember after I was appointed Chairman, I walked with JRD to his office, where he told his secretary that he had to move out. I said, ‘No, J, don’t move out, this is your office for as long as you want.’ He said, ‘Where will you sit?’ I said, ‘Where I’m sitting today–I have an office down the hall & that’s fine.’ I was lucky to have him there. He was my greatest mentor & the years that he was alive, I used to go into his office & say, ‘J, I wish this had happened 10 years ago, we have such a great relationship.’ He was like a father & a brother to me & not enough’s been said about that.”

A post shared by Humans of Bombay (@officialhumansofbombay) on

 

Tata detailed his experience interning at Tata Motors and his move to Jamshedpur where he initially had a tough time learning the ropes.

“It was a waste of time–I was moved from one department to another & was looked at as a family member, so no one told me what to do–but I spent 6 months trying to be ‘useful’. It was only after I moved to Tata Steel that I got specific work & my job got interesting. I started from the floor & really understood the plight of those working there. So years later, when we downsized Tata Steel from 78,000 to 40,000, we ensured to pay them their present day wages until retirement–it’s been in our DNA to serve those who serve us,” he said in the Instagram post.

It was in Jamshedpur that Tata’s interest in architecture had blossomed. Apart from focusing on his business, Tata also designed homes for his mother and himself.

“By the time I finished 6 years in Jamshedpur, architecture had become a hobby–I enjoyed designing homes for my mom & I, but apart from that, my life was dedicated to the business,” the post read.

Tata also shared details of his succession of JRD Tata and the criticism that he had faced on accounts of nepotism after becoming the chairman of Tata Sons. He talked about other aspirants of the post who had voiced their criticism against Tata being appointed as the chairman. As Tata further explained in the post, his time spent working hands-on with the company had helped him prove his position. He credited JRD Tata for mentoring him through this time.

“I was lucky to have him there. He was my greatest mentor & the years that he was alive, I used to go into his office & say, ‘J(RD), I wish this had happened 10 years ago, we have such a great relationship.’ He was like a father & a brother to me & not enough’s been said about that,” he said.

Tata’s story was very well-received by netizens who showered compliments on the business tycoon in the comments.

“They don't make a lot like him anymore @officialhumansofbombay @ratantata Thank you for sharing this, it makes each of us experience wisdom through experience that is so humane and tangible,” read a comment on the Instagram post.

Tata is quite active on the social media platform, often sharing his experiences and views. He was recently lauded by netizens on the platform for defending a young woman who had called him “Chotu” on one of his posts.

Instagram users also shared their anticipation for the third and final part of the series in the comments on Official Humans of Bombay’s post.

Published on February 20, 2020
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