TCS CEO Chandrasekaran, JLR chief Speth join Tata Sons board

In keeping with the tradition of promoting group company CEOs to the board of Tata Sons, Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, and N. Chandrasekaran, CEO & managing director of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), were appointed as additional directors.

“This is in recognition of their exemplary leadership in their companies,” said Ratan Tata, interim chairman, Tata Sons. Chandrasekaran, 53, and Speth, 61, are running the most successful operations of the Tata group.

Earlier, during the tenure of Ratan Tata, RK Krishna Kumar, MD of Tata Tea, and JJ irani, MD of Tata Steel, were appointed on the board of Tata Sons. Similarly, the late JRD Tata had appointed the late Sumant Moolgaokar and the late Darbari Seth on the TSL board.

Chandra, as the TCS CEO is popularly known, is credited with the success of India’s largest IT company with market value of Rs 4,72,636 crore as on Tuesday. It reported revenues of Rs 23,000 crore in the September quarter and made profit of Rs 5,958 crore, according to BSE filings.

On his appointment to the Tata Sons’ board, Chandrasekaran said: “I am humbled by this honour and I look forward to contributing to the board.”

Speth was appointed as CEO of Jaguar Land Rover in February 2010 after he served BMW for 20 years. Under his leadership, JLR continued to show strong global sales, despite the China slowdown and reported a strong growth in key markets of North America and Europe.

With the two new directors, the Tata Sons board now has a balance of experienced industrialists and CEOs. In August 25 this year, Ajay Piramal, Chairman of Piramal and Shriram groups, and Venu Srinivasan, Chairman of TVS Motor and Sundaram Clayton, joined the board of Tata Sons as non-executive directors.

Apart from the new appointees, the Tata Sons board now has Ishaat Hussain, former CFO of Tata Sons; Vijay Singh, former Defence Secretary of India; Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School; Ronen Sen, Former Indian Ambassador to the US, and Farida Khambata, global strategist at Cartica Capital, as other directors. Mistry, who was ousted as chairman on Monday, continues to remain on board as a director.

The appointment of Chandra and Speth will help Ratan Tata’s move to bring the group back on track. Apart from the unceremonious exit of Cyrus Mistry as chairman, the $103-billion revenue group is currently facing headwinds with few businesses. For example, Tata Steel’s European operations were in talks for a joint venture with Germany’s ThyssenKrupp to sell its remaining Europe operations. But there has been no headway. The group is also fighting a bitter court battle with NTT Docomo, the Japanese telecom major, over the exit price of DoCoMo from Tata Teleservices. The group currently earns 69 per cent of its revenues from its global operations and is selling non-core assets across the world.