It’s unlikely that you have lived in India and not heard the Tata name; the conglomerate has a storied 150-year history in the country and manufactures everything from pin-to-plane. But over the last two decades, the firm has spread its wings globally. They now have operations in more than 80 countries across six continents and boast annual revenues in excess of $100 billion. Today, they are best known internationally for a landmark acquisition of the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus for close to $12 billion in 2007, for being the owners of British automaker Jaguar Land Rover and for running the iconic Pierre hotel in New York City.
At a series of popular events organized by the India Business Club as part of their Eminent Speaker Series, Mr. Muthuraman, vice chairman of Tata Steel and a 47-year veteran of the firm, met privately with small groups of students and faculty members throughout the afternoon for informal conversations on the Tata Group’s work and business in the emerging markets. Later in the evening, he spoke to a jam-packed auditorium of students and faculty members at the Allen Center about the meteoric rise of the Indian economy in the two decades since economic liberalization efforts in 1991 but also, tellingly, about the multitude of deep challenges that need to be addressed in the country to sustain this momentum.
In a fireside conversation with Professor David Besanko, Mr. Muthuraman stressed the need for large corporations to commit themselves to “inclusive growth,” or positively impacting the lives of people in the communities they work in, while pursuing a profit motive. Remarkably, he noted, thanks to the foresight and social commitments of its founders, two-thirds of the Tata Group’s shares are controlled by philanthropic trusts, which plough back profits towards schools, hospitals and other social endeavors.
Mr. Muthuraman was accompanied by Kapil Sharma, senior general manager for North America at Tata, and a host of senior Tata executives who all stayed back to converse with students after the main speaker event.
Rakesh Mani is a 2nd year student. Follow him on Twitter @rakeshmani.