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Ratan Tata: Inspiring Story about Learning from Failures

Ratan Tata: Inspiring Story about Learning from Failures

“I don’t believe in taking the right decisions, I take decisions and then make them right”
– Ratan Tata

Today, Ratan Naval Tata  is one of the most well-known and respected industrialists in India. He heads one of the country’s largest conglomerates which comprise nearly 100 firms with revenues totaling about USD 67 billion.

He comes from a famous Tata family, is that the reason for his success? Answer is no. Success followed him after many failures and struggles. His life is role model for younger generations.

Adversaries and Failures of Ratan Tata

One may think that the early days in the life of MR Tata were amazing and luxurious, due to the fact that he was born in a very rich family. But the reality is pretty different.

Ratan Tata Quote - If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together
Ratan Tata Quote – If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together

Disturbing Childhood

When he reached the age of 10, his parents got separated. Being divorced especially in India, is viewed from a negative perspective and social status in society is reduced as well. His younger brother was just seven years old at that time.

This had a deep negative impact on both the children. However, Ratan Tata was being looked after by his grandmother, Lady Navajbai Tata in Mumbai.

Roller-coaster Career of Ratan Tata

Though he comes from Tata family, he started as a blue-collar worker.

In 1962, he joined the Tata Group and his first job involved working with the Tata Steel division in Jamshedpur, where he worked with the blue-collar employees shoveling stone and working with the furnaces.

1971 – Failure to Revive NELCO

In this year he was promoted to the position of Director-in-Charge at NELCO (National Radio & Electronics Company Limited). It was done due to the fact that this company was going through a very tough time in relation to it’s finances.

Ratan Tata tried pretty much everything to make the situation better, but economic slowdown and recession didn’t let him achieve his goals. 

1986 – Shutting Down of Empress Mills

This time it was the Empress Mills facing the heat of a financial crisis. Fresh from a failure, Ratan was ready to put in double efforts to bring the company out of misery. His continued attempts to revive Empress Mills didn’t go waste and he was able to save the ship from drowning.

But the colours of joy were short-lived as an investment that Ratan thought was essential to sustain the organisation wasn’t approved which led to its unprecedented shutdown in 1986.  He was heartbroken while others were quick to point guns at him putting the sole blame of the failure on his shoulders.

Many believed his career was done and dusted.

1991 – Heading Tata Group with Skeptical Veterans

JRD Tata- head of the Tata Group- left many stunned and shocked when he unexpectedly announced Ratan Naval Tata as his successor. 

A wave of unhappiness ripped through the veterans of the group when they learned that a man who failed on two previous occasions was chosen ahead of them. In one stroke he was made the head of India’s biggest business group. The bitterness among employees was visible when many of them attacked the new head publicly and expressed their displeasure. 

Proving His Worth and Coming out of Failures

Tata later paved his way to become the Chairman of Tata Industries and was instrumental in ushering in a wide array of reforms. It was under his stewardship that Tata Consultancy Services went public and Tata Motors was listed in the New York Stock Exchange giving it more international power and recognition. He is credited with leading the Tatas’ successful bid for Corus- an Anglo-Dutch steel and aluminum producer as well as Jaguar and Land Rover brands from the Ford Company.

"None can destroy iron, but its own rust can. Likewise, none can destroy a person but his own mindset can." - Ratan Tata
None can destroy iron, but its own rust can. Likewise, none can destroy a person but his own mindset can.” – Ratan Tata

Success in Automobile Sector

Though the Tata Group excelled in all spheres under Ratan Tata, the growth amassed by the automobile sector under him was quite astonishing. He read the Indian buyer’s mind carefully before launching his brainchild car ‘Indica’ which was touted to be the ‘truly Indian car’.

From Rolls Royce to Fiat SpA to the Mitsubishi Corporation, Tata was connected to all in some or the other way.

Success Story of Ratan Tata

  • 1998: The Tata Indica, the conglomerate’s first passenger car, was launched this year. The car went on to become the No. 1 brand in its segment within two years.
  • 2000: Tata Tea, now Tata Global Beverages, acquired the Tetley group, the world’s second largest manufacturer and distributor of tea. Tetley is the largest tea company in the UK.
  • 2001: Tata AIG, a joint venture between the Tata group and American International Group Inc (AIG), marks the re-entry of the Tata group into the insurance sector. 
  • 2002: The group acquires a controlling stake in Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. VSNL was founded in 1986 and was the first Indian PSU to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • 2003: Tata Consultancy Services became the first Indian software company to cross $1 billion in revenue. The company went public a year later.
  • 2004: Tata Motors is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company also acquires the heavy vehicles unit of Daewoo Motors the same year.
  • 2007: Tata Steel acquires Anglo-Dutch company Corus, the second-largest steel maker in Europe.
  • 2008: Tata Motors unveils the Nano, the country’s cheapest passenger car.
  • 2008: Tata Motors acquires the Jaguar and Land Rover businesses from Ford, and forms a new company, Jaguar Land Rover.
  • 2012: Tata Global Beverages and Starbucks form a joint venture, Tata Starbucks Ltd, and open their first store in Mumbai.

What to Learn from Life Story of Ratan Tata?

  • Right from handling the mental stress in his childhood days due to the separation of his parents, to getting rejections from his own team mates at several times after joining his company; Mr. Tata was so determined to achieve his targets that he never let these obstacles come in his way.
  • Mr. Tata donates around 65% of his profits in charity related work and is always ready and interested to take part in any activity which is for the benefit of his people and country.

No matter how hard the situation is, no matter what are your conditions financially, no matter if your team mates believes in your ideas or not; the truth is that if you believe in yourself, if you have that confidence in you.

Let us know how much you get inspired by story of Ratan Tata? Did it help you achieve your goal?