Why N Chandrasekaran was appointed as Tata Sons chairman

Under his leadership, TCS generated $16.5 billion and remains the most valuable company in India.

 |  3-minute read |   16-01-2017
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This writer’s first exclusive meeting with N Chandrasekaran was in his capacity as the chief operating officer of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), some time in 2006-2007. This was part of meetings that TCS arranged with senior officials after announcing their quarterly results.

"Chandra" as he is popularly known as both within the company and in the industry, was one of the finest executives one meets as a scribe, fast and sharp with his facts, but always wearing a pleasant countenance. I was accompanied by the reporter who tracks IT on a regular basis, and Chandra answered our questions with so much patience and equanimity.

Remember, these were the days closer to the global slowdown, so while Indian IT companies were having a smooth ride in the global markets till then, there were some pressure points to be seen. Global firms were starting to be extremely choosy in contracts, and competition was rife among the big five — Infosys, Wipro, HCL and Satyam (now Tech Mahindra), and then TCS – to sign deals.

In that meeting, and the many subsequent press conferences he held after taking over as MD and CEO of the IT giant, did one see a leader who could once take the reins at the $103 billion (Rs 6,000 billion approx) Tata Group? Perhaps, one did.

tatabd_011617085945.jpg N Chandrasekaran will need to take a closer look at the problem areas that his predecessor Cyrus Mistry pointed out in his allegations against Ratan Tata and the Tata Sons board.

To many industry watchers, it wasn’t as much Chandra’s qualifications for the top job, as the Tata Group’s intent and willingness to open itself up to place a non-Parsi, professional leader at the top. No one could doubt Chandra’s credentials.

Under his leadership, TCS generated $16.5 billion (Rs 11.2 crore) in revenues in 2015-16. With over 3,71,000 consultants, it has become the largest private sector employer in India with the highest retention rate in a globally competitive industry.

TCS remains the most valuable company in India and ended 2015-16 with a market capitalisation of over $70 billion (Rs 47.6 crore). TCS always gets inevitably compared with Infosys in its performance. Perhaps, this is a media creation, as some would allege, but Chandra seems to have responded well to Infosys’ challenge under its new leader Vishal Sikka.

After slipping from its top position in a quarter, TCS climbs back again in the next, after addressing its areas of weakness.

However, with the new job, Chandra’s challenges would be slightly different. On one hand, he will need to take a closer look at the problem areas that his predecessor Cyrus Mistry pointed out in his allegations against Ratan Tata and the Tata Sons board.

His other duty would be to make all major businesses profitable, including the weaklings such as automotive, steel, hospitality and chemicals. That should be the easier part for him, given his track record. But each businesses are varied and challenges diverse too.

For marathon-runner Chandra, this will be one real test of endurance and strategy.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read - Cyrus Mistry sacking from Tata: Tale of family discord since 1930s

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Writer

MG Arun MG Arun @mgarun1

The writer is Deputy Editor, India Today.

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