Mumbai: Natarajan Chandrasekaran, 53, who has spent some 30 years in the Tata group, will be the new Executive Chairman of Tata Sons — the first non-Parsi to head the $103-billion global empire with a 148-year history, it was announced on Thursday.
“Chandrasekaran has demonstrated exemplary leadership as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services,” said a statement from Tata Sons, adding that he will take over the holding company’s reins on February 21.
“We believe he will now inspire the entire Tata group to realise its potential acting as leaders in their respective businesses, always in keeping with our value system and ethics and adhering with the practices of the Tata group which have stood it in good stead,” the statement added.
Considered an “insider”, Chandrasekaran had already been inducted into the board of Tata Sons in October last year as additional director, a day after Cyrus Mistry was unceremoniously removed as chairman.
Just a few hours before the announcement, the group veteran had reported a better-than-expected third quarter results for Tata Consultancy Services, one of the highest revenue earners for the group.
An avid photographer and a passionate marathon runner, “Chandra” — as Chandrasekaran is called by his peers — has been associated with TCS since 1987, during which time he has seen its revenues grow to $16.5 billion, with 371,000 consultants and a market cap of over $70 billion.
Mistry was removed as Tata Sons chairman on October 24 and Ratan Tata was named the interim chairman. This apart, a selection committee was constituted with the mandate to recommend a new chairman within four months.
The committee, formed as per the articles of association, comprised Ratan Tata, industrialist Venu Srinivasan, technocrat Amit Chandra, former Indian Ambassador to the US Ronen and and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya.
Tata Sons said Chandrasekaran was the committee’s unanimous choice.
A masters in computer applications from Regional Engineering College, Trichy in Tamil Nadu, the new Tata Sons chair, was the chairman of Nasscom, the apex trade body for IT firms in India in 2012-13. He has also been a member of several task forces of the Indian government.
The TCS Web site said he has completed several marathons around the world including Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, Mumbai, New York, Prague, Stockholm, Salzburg and Tokyo. He lives in Mumbai, with his wife Lalitha and son Pranav.
“Chandra is a great choice,” said N.R. Narayan Murthy, the Infosys co-counder. “He is all the time learning with people, he is all the time sharing with people. I have no doubt the entire industry will be celebrating today,” Murthy added.
“Excellent choice. He dserves it. I’ve known him for several years and he is level headed, dynamic and young,” said banker Deepak Parekh, who has been on the board of Tata Group company Indian Hotels.
He said the challenges before Chandrasekaran will be the UK operations ot Tata Steel, and Tata Telecom.