Rarely do corporate executives get to steer the course of a group that has a legacy of a century and a half. Even rarer is a responsibility to reimagine the business models of its most legendary firms, seed new businesses and bring in technologies that are set to change the face of the group forever. In his second five-year term as chairman of group-holding company Tata Sons, N. Chandrasekaran is getting to do both.
With every legacy firm facing the twin onslaught of technology and net-zero targets, business models need overhauling, technology needs to be embraced in every nook and corner of the group and as India’s fast-growing economy determined to achieve ‘aatmanirbharta’ throws up new business opportunities, Tatas need to tap them to stay ahead of the curve.
Leading the Tata Group through this momentous era, Chandrasekaran sat down with Fortune India at group headquarters Bombay House over cups of Starbucks coffee to explain how he is pivoting the 154-year-old group. Such, that it will sport a renewed look a few years hence.
Tata Group may still remain in most of the businesses it has been known for, but how those products and services are made and delivered to consumers is set to change forever. Consider this: Tata Motors is transitioning rapidly from vehicles made with internal combustion engines to electric vehicles only; Tata Power from thermal power to renewables; Tata Steel to green steel; Titan from watch & jewellery maker to a lifestyle firm; Tata Chemicals from basic chemistry to specialty chemicals; Tata Consumer Products from tea and salt to full-scale FMCG; Indian Hotels from owned-assets to leased properties; Tata Digital to SuperApp; and last but not the least Tata Defence from defence transportation to aviation engineering.
All that within the perimeter of the Tata heritage of social change: “We want to see what impact we can make on society. A lot of things we can do at scale,” says Chandrasekaran, fresh from yet another full marathon, this time in Iceland capital Reykjavik. Read Nevin John’s riveting cover story ‘Pivoting Tata’, the first inside account of the remarkable changes that are transforming the group to be future-ready.
THE LONG VISION BUDGET
Meanwhile, in finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s fifth Budget, India’s vastly successful formula since the Covid-hit year 2020 to keep the nation’s economic engine firing through loads of capital expenditure on infrastructure remains at the heart of Union Budget 2023 as well. This time Centre’s capital expenditure sees an astounding 33% hike to ₹10 lakh crore.
Yet, this Budget will be remembered for its ‘Long Vision’, for the tenacity to resist the temptation to be populist in the last full Budget before General Elections in April next year. It will be remembered for responsible fiscal management and for sticking to what will work to India’s advantage in the long run rather than myopic, bank-busting moves, that had become the norm for governments serving the last year of their term.
Joe C. Mathew and Ashutosh Kumar explain why the big moves in the Budget prove that long-term vision outwitted short-term populism to put India on a path of growth and prosperity in a sea of global economic slowdown.