Tata group chairman Chandrasekaran was a Tamil medium student

Updated by admin on Friday, January 13, 2017 06:26 PM IST

Chennai: Tata Consultancy Services CEO Natarajan Chandrasekaran, named the new Chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the $103 billion Tata Group, studied in a Tamil medium government school in a village called Mohanur in Namakkal, western Tamil Nadu.

In the early 1970s, N Chandrasekaran, along with his two brothers, would walk 3 kms to his school. On February 21, he will drive to Bombay House, marking the elevation of a simple man from humble beginnings who has been able to freach the top by dint of his hard work and loyalty.

Chandrasekaran's appointment comes less than three months after Cyrus Mistry was removed as chairman on October 24. Mistry's dismissal led to a bitter spat between him and group patriarch Ratan Tata, who has served as interim Chairman since his departure.

Chandra, as he is called by his friends and family, is the youngest of three brothers and has three sisters. "His standout quality is his commitment," says eldest brother N Srinivasan, group finance director at Murugappa Group. "He will invest commitment and time to achieve anything that he sets out to do."

TCS was his first employer. "He joined TCS more than 30 years ago (in 1987) in Chennai and lived with me here. He used to be the first to leave home for office, often by 7am, and the last to return, sometimes way past midnight," says Srinivasan.

The modest lifestyle of the three brothers involved sharing an apartment in Chennai and moving around on a scooter. "While all three of us have been religious, Chandra in particular learned Vedic hymns from a scholar," recalls the brother.

Chandra completed his bachelor's degree in applied sciences from Coimbatore Institute of Technology before doing his masters in computer science at Regional Engineering College, Trichy. He graduated in 1986.

Another brother — N Ganapathy Subramaniam, elder to Chandra and younger to Srinivasan — was elevated as the COO of TCS on Thursday, soon after Chandra was named the Tata Sons chairman. His sisters live in Erode, Bengaluru and Chennai.

Their lawyer father S Natarajan returned to Mohanur to pursue farming. On hearing the news of Chandra's elevation, his 85-year-old father said: "God has been very kind to us." Natarajan's wife Meenakshi, 82, was elated as they watched TV channels beam visuals of their sons, sitting in Seshasayee Boards quarters in Erode in western Tamil Nadu.

Srinivasan says his brother took up an assignment with TCS as a final year college student. "And TCS became his employer. Chandra was not academically brilliant, but was an above average performer who would put his mind and heart into his duty," says Srinivasan.

"He is absolutely the perfect choice, a great leader," TCS Director Ishaat Hussain said.

The announcement was made after an unscheduled board meeting on January 12, well ahead of the February 24 deadline for selecting a new Chairman.

A five-member panel comprising Ratan Tata, TVS Group head Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra of Bain Capital, former diplomat Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharya, was constituted in October to shortlist candidates for the position, the report said.

N Chandrasekaran has been the CEO and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services since 2009. Since October 2016, he has also

served on the board of Tata Sons.

Thanking the board and interim chairman Ratan Tata for the appointment, Chandrasekaran said, "I am proud to have been part of the Tata family for over 30 years and assuming this position is a great privilege."

His appointment as Tata Sons Chairman comes at a time when the company is fighting a legal battle at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) against Cyrus Mistry, who has challenged his ouster.

Yesterday, two investment firms owned by the Mistry family filed a contempt application at NCLT against Tata Sons' move to remove him as director, and sought an order to restrain the company from going ahead with the EGM called on February 6 to remove him.

Mistry has alleged that Tata and other trustees of the Tata Trusts an ran alternate power centre during his tenure, and that he was reduced to being a "lame duck Chairman".


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