A marathon runner, N Chandrasekaran’s long journey within the Tata group has taken him from a regular internship at Tata Consultancy Services in 1987, to taking over the reigns of the group, as he takes charge as Chairman of Tata Sons from February 21.
N Chandrasekaran’s persistent pace made him the youngest CEO in the group when he was appointed as CEO of TCS and MD in 2009. Today, he’s the only the second outsider to take over as Chairman of Tata Sons.
He takes over at a tumultuous time when the group is caught in one of the biggest corporate battle after Tata Sons fired Cyrus Mistry in October.
But Chandra is known for staying ahead of the curve and remaining focussed on performance during tough times. In an earlier interview with BusinessLine when TCS had a particularly bad quarter, he had said: “The nature of running a business, especially in today’s context, is that you must embrace change. What happens if somebody exploits it (change) better than you is that you lose.”
Sharing his experience of working with Chandrasekaran, former CFO of TCS, S Mahalingam, said: “Chandra was key to TCS in exploiting opportunities arising after the Y2K boom. He was very comfortable with the technologies being propelled by the Internet revolution. Clients saw in him as a person who could transform their enterprises into a connected one – both internally and externally.”
Chandrasekaran hails from a humble family in Mohanur, near the Namakkal district in Tamil Nadu. But it was probably his stint at TCS that has made him more humble. “ I have become mature and a better human being through the interactions I have had with all of you,” Chandra told analysts post the TCS quarterly results on Thursday.
Under his tenure as CEO, consolidated revenues of TCS have more than tripled to ₹94,648 crore in 2015-16 from ₹27,813 crore in 2009-10. With over 371,000 consultants, TCS has become the largest private sector employer in India, with the highest retention rate in a globally competitive industry.
Speculations over Chandrasekaran’s appointment as the next Tata Sons CEO started when he was appointed as a Director on the board of Tata Sons on October 25.
A technopreneur known for his ability to make big bets on new technology, Chandrasekaran was also appointed as a Director on the board of the Reserve Bank of India, in 2016. He has served as Chairperson of the IT Industry Governors’ at the WEF, Davos in 2015-16. He has been playing an active role in the Indo-US and India-UK CEO Forums. He is also part of India’s business task forces for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan and Malaysia.
Beyond the office, Chandrasekaran is an avid photographer, and a passionate long-distance runner who has completed several marathons around the world. “A person of proven capability takes over as the leader of Tata Sons. He has steered TCS so ably and one can confidently say that he will do the same with Tata Sons,” Mahalingam said.