Ratan Naval Tata (born 28 December 1937) is an Indian businessman and chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons. He was the chairman of Tata Group, a Mumbai-based conglomerate from 1991–2012. He stepped down as the chairman of Tata Group, on 28 December 2012 but continues as the chairman of the Group’s charitable trusts.
Ratan Tata is the son of Naval Tata, who had been adopted from the family of a distant relative by Navajbai Tata after the death of her husband, Ratanji Tata. Ratan Tata’s parents Naval and Sonoo separated in the mid-1940s when Ratan was ten and his younger brother, Jimmy, was seven years old. Both he and his brother were raised by their grandmother Navajbai Tata. Ratan also has a step brother Noel Tata from Naval Tata’s second marriage to Simone Tata.
Ratan began his schooling in Mumbai at the Campion School and finished his secondary education at the Cathedral and John Connon School. He completed his B.S. in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University in 1962, and the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School in 1975. Tata is a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.
Tata began his career in the Tata group in 1961. He initially started on the shop floor of Tata Steel, shovelling limestone and handling the blast furnace. In 1991, J. R. D. Tata stepped down as Chairman of Tata Sons, naming Ratan as his successor.
Under his stewardship, Tata Tea acquired Tetley, Tata Motors acquired Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Steel acquired Corus, which have turned Tata from a largely India-centric company into a global business, with 65% revenues coming from abroad. He was instrumental in the development of Tata Nano, largely dubbed as the world’s cheapest passenger car.
Ratan Tata retired from all executive responsibility in the Tata group on 28 December 2012, his 75th birthday, and he was succeeded by Cyrus Mistry, the 44-year-old son of Pallonji Mistry and managing director of Shapoorji Pallonji Group.
Ratan Tata has retired but he is still seen working. Recently, he invested his personal savings in Snapdeal- one of India’s leading e-commerce website. Mr Tata is working closely with Jaguar Land Rover and some of the new models launched by the British marquee have several inputs from Mr Tata. In April 2015, it was reported that Tata had acquired a stake in Chinese smartphone startup Xiaomi, with specific terms undisclosed.
He is currently the chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons. He continues to serve as the chairman of the main two Tata trusts Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust and their allied Trusts, which together hold 66% of shares in the group holding company Tata Sons.
Ratan Tata has served in various capacities in organisations in India and abroad. He is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry and the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council. He is on the jury panel of Pritzker Architecture Prize – considered to be one of the world’s premier architecture prizes.
Ratan Tata is a director on the boards of Alcoa Inc., Mondelez International and Board of Governors of the East-West Center. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of University of Southern California, Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors, X Prize and Cornell University.
Ratan Tata is also a member of the Harvard Business School India Advisory Board (IAB) since 2006, and previously a member of the Harvard Business School Asia-Pacific Advisory Board (APAB) 2001-2006.