Indian businesspersons in a nutshell – Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata, KBE, is one of the most eminent businesspeople in India. He has served as the chairman of the Tata Group from 1991 to 2012 and resigned from the post on December 28, 2012 – incidentally it was his 75th birthday as well. He will be succeeded by Cyrus Mistry who is the son of Pallonji Mistry, who serves as the managing director of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group.


At present he is working as the Chairman Emeritus of several companies in the Tata Group like Tata Sons, Tata Steel and Tata Motors – it is an advisory and honorary position. It is expected that he will continue to operate as the chairman of the various charitable trusts that are run by the Tata Group such as the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and Sir Dorabji Tata and Allied Trusts.




Tata’s schooling started at the Campion School in his hometown Mumbai and the Bishop Cotton School in Shimla. He completed his secondary education from the Cathedral and John Connon School. He then studied structural engineering at the Cornell University and completed his BS in architecture in the same during 1962. In 1975 he finished the Advanced Management Program from the Harvard Business School. He is also a part of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.


Early career


Ratan Tata started his professional life with the Tata Group itself in 1962. Initially he dealt with the blast furnace and shoveled limestone. He rose to the position of chairman of the Tata Group when JRD Tata stepped down from the post during 1991 and anointed Ratan Tata as his successor.


Major acquisitions


Ratan Tata, during his career at the helm of the Tata Group, made a series of acquisitions that went a long way in raising the profile of the business house and made it a global name from a company that was previously focusing mainly on India. Some of the major names in this regard are Tetley, Corus and Jaguar Land Rover. The business operations during his time were such that 65% of the group’s income was from outside the country. He also played a major role in the development of affordable cars such as Tata Indica and Tata Nano.


Positions served


In addition to his roles within the Tata Group, Ratan Tata has graced different positions for other companies and organizations within India and outside the country. He has been a part of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry and is a member of the Board of Governors of the East-West Center. The East-West Center functions as the advisory board of the R&D’s Center for Asia-Pacific Policy. He has also been a part of the program board of the India AIDS Initiative headed by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.




Ratan Tata is a member of the international advisory groups of several top entities such as the following:


  • Mitsubishi Corporation
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • American International Group
  • Booz Allen Hamilton


He is included in the boards of trustees of RAND Corporation, Cornell University and University of Southern California. In addition he has been a member of the New York Stock Exchange’s Asia-Pacific Advisory Committee and the International Investment Council of South Africa. Following are some of the recent honors that have been bestowed on him:

(Year-Awarding entity-Name of award/honor)


  • 2000 – Indian Government – Padma Bhushan
  • 2004 – Asian Institute of Technology – Honorary Degree of Doctor of Technology
  • 2005 – University of Warwick – Honorary Doctor of Science
  • 2007 – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy
  • 2008 – Indian Government – Padma Vibhushan
  • 2008 – Inspired Leadership Award – Inspired Leadership Award
  • 2008 – University of Cambridge – Honorary Doctor of Law
  • 2008 – Indian Institute of Technology Bombay – Honorary Doctor of Science
  • 2008 – Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur – Honorary Doctor of Science
  • 2009 – British Empire – Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • 2010 – Yale University – Legend in Leadership Award
  • 2010 – Pepperdine University – Honorary Doctor of Laws
  • 2010 – The Asian Awards – Business Leader of the Year
  • 2012 – Rockefeller Foundation – Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2012 – The University of New South Wales – Doctor of Business honoris causa
  • 2013 – Ernst & Young – Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2013 – Carnegie Mellon University – Honorary Doctor of Business Practice