Unassuming achiever

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Tatas’ Chandra a role model for the young

I ran into Chandra (N Chandrasekaran, now head of Tata Sons) for the first time in late 2002, a few months after I joined the TCS. I had not met him earlier, nor had I heard about him. He was supposed to brief me on the data security demands of TCS clients. He was courteous and sharp, and strikingly economical in words.

Absolutely no frills or flamboyance. In simple language he made me understand what was required of me, a rookie as far as IT security was concerned.

Did I ever imagine that this simple uncomplicated man would ever reach the current dizzying heights within the span of a decade and a half? Certainly not!

Chandra’s forte is his disarming smile. In his own words: ‘I have no enemies, but only opponents!’ He is not the one who will befuddle you with his vast knowledge, or would he ever seem trying to impose.

Chandra will not have achieved most of what he has, without the physical energy that he commands in such abundance. He is an advertisement for jogging, a passion with him.

Many TCSers have followed him ungrudgingly. That is more than half the secret of the TCS success story. ‘Fitness 4all’ is a TCS slogan that dominates every centre the company runs the world over.

A simple soul

Religious to the core, without proclaiming it to the rest of the word, as some of us do. He is neither apologetic about his middle class upbringing nor does he parade it for praise.

He is a simple soul, who enjoys life without taking undue advantage of the alluring opportunities his high office offers him. He does not employ colourful language, nor does he sport expensive debonair attire just to draw attention. He is at ease in the most nondescript of restaurants, and is possibly slightly uncomfortable in flashy five-star hotels.

He lives up to the unique Tata brand of austerity and goodness to fellow beings. Moving into Bombay House, just a kilometre away from TCS House, on January 21, will therefore hardly change Chandra who, in my view, represents the essence of Bhagwad Gita: ‘Do your duty and do not bother about the fruits of your labour’. On occasions, when I had been even mildly admiring of him, his reaction was somewhat muted. He was merely thankful to the Almighty for protecting him and allowing him to do what he wanted to do.

That office could sit lightly on him was a revelation to me when he was made CEO after S Ramadorai. There was no visible change in his demeanour or interaction with his staff. He continued to be polite and warm to whoever came to him with a problem.

A lesser man would have glowed in pride at the milestone he has crossed to head a reputed corporation. He has imbibed humility and modesty from his illustrious mentor, Ramadorai.

Despite the 20-year age difference between us, I can proudly say I have learnt a lot from Chandra. Coming from the Indian Police Service this has been a refreshing exposure to a style of management so much in contrast with that I was used to in my previous incarnation.

In sum, he is a role model to many young professionals of the current generation looking for a stable career, where work is based on persuasion and values rather than on pomp and glitter.

The writer is Adviser-Security, TCS and a former director of the CBI

Published on January 15, 2017
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