It has been my luck and privilege to serve the Tata group and have the wonderful alternative of working very intently with the then Group Chairman, Cyrus Mistry, over a span of 4 years. Cyrus was an inspirational chief and an actual gentleman whom I’ve grown to admire, whose sense of values, dedication to goal, compassionate methods and readability of thought stood out in his each phrase and motion. I need to confess, although, that he was simple to admire however inconceivable to emulate.
On my first day at work in 2013, once I joined the Tata group because the Group CHRO and member of the Group Government Council (GEC), I requested the Chairman about his expectations from Group HR. He mentioned that every one of us are however short-term trustees of this outstanding establishment and that our function is to serve, to not rule. Cyrus emphasised that individuals are all the things and that our philosophy should be to make sure wellbeing of each worker, throughout the group, at each degree. We should be a house for the very best and the brightest, and concentrate on their growth and progress, to proceed the Tata legacy. His ideas formed our endeavours in Group HR, at each step.
On the folks entrance, a key initiative was conceptualising and implementing a High quality-of-Life framework based mostly on worker wellbeing and fulfilment at work. As well as, a refreshed management competency mannequin for creating future-ready leaders was carried out. We additionally considerably invested in enhancing variety and drove affirmative motion, which earned recognition and a nationwide award from the Prime Minister. Efficient succession planning was foremost on Cyrus’s thoughts. He added over 60 CEO/CXOs throughout group corporations, with Group HR supporting him. The primary choice was home-grown expertise, and a search train exterior the place needed. This infusion of such best-in-class expertise was like an Archimedean lever that considerably enhanced the longer term readiness potential of the group.
Company governance was accorded nice significance and have become a key agenda. Cyrus would usually emphasise that “good governance is the conscience of an enterprise”. Enhancing board effectiveness, together with architecting a governance handbook, which set requirements above the authorized necessities in step with Tata ethos, was initiated. As well as, Cyrus focussed on making certain each variety and a well-balanced illustration of all key capabilities in board compositions. Within the 4 years he was on the helm, as a part of an elaborate succession planning train, about 40 administrators with various purposeful experience had been added to the Tata boards, 1 / 4 of which had been girls.
He met the senior management usually and listened to them diligently and inspired dissenting views. I recall that some CEOs of a selected sector got here to fulfill him and expressed that they had been going through enterprise challenges owing to some opponents’ questionable practices. His steering to them was easy: adhere to a “zero tolerance coverage” in the direction of moral transgressions, regardless of market challenges. His mild rejoinder was that credibility should be earned, not simply inherited. He underscored the necessity to safeguard the Tata ethos, its abiding values and guarantee integrity in our actions. Cyrus shared that it was essential to do issues proper, however much more important to do the appropriate issues.
One of many fascinating facets I noticed was Cyrus’s velocity of response to any message you despatched him, be it on WhatsApp or e-mail. I might get a reply in seconds and when it doesn’t come as shortly, you might be assured that he’s on a flight or that he hasn’t seen your message. I skilled this not solely throughout my 4 years of working with him however even the six years thereafter, throughout which I stayed in fixed contact with him. This made you are feeling that he’s at all times there and reachable while you want him.
Over dinner at Pune Lakehouse a few years after he assumed the function of Chairman, I requested him what he felt concerning the time passed by. It was future, he mentioned, that handed him the duty of main such a venerable establishment, and that he noticed daily as an obligation to fulfil. He had two regrets, although, and lamented that availability of time was the largest constraint. On one hand, he felt that the standard time he may spend together with his loving household, which he was dedicated to, and his pricey mates has been significantly decreased. His different remorse was that the time he needed to steer the group was grossly inadequate, provided that there was a lot to do.
It was his nature to say little and imply a lot. In a foreword that he gracefully penned for my guide, he underscored the necessity for minimalism and brevity: “I’ve been accused of preserving speeches moderately brief. In my thoughts, the ability to make an impression lies within the context and content material, moderately than size, which can be a poor substitute”.
Cyrus had a terrific sense of humour and was a voracious reader. Primarily inquisitive about non-fiction, he would say in a lighter vein that there’s sufficient fiction on the earth round us. Virtually each different weekend, he would end a brand new enterprise guide and would need to see the way it utilized to our work available. He liked vehicles and when he assumed operational cost of Tata Motors Restricted (TML) for 2 years within the absence of a CEO, he spent appreciable time within the design store and engineering, creating new fashions for the longer term. His work dedication in addition to his joie de vivre was infectious. He touched many lives in his personal distinctive approach. So many owed a lot to him and all he anticipated in flip was their dedication to a goal, bigger than themselves.
Cyrus adored his father. Once I shared my condolences on his father’s demise, he wrote again sharing the affect his father had in shaping his thought course of: “Whereas at college in London, I by no means missed coming again to Mumbai each alternative I received. Most of these days had been spent in workplace sitting beside my father, studying and absorbing the various facets of our enterprise, however extra so experiencing first-hand the way in which he handled folks and the values he lived by. Light, humble but sturdy, empathetic but honest. He taught that our phrase means greater than any doc. I used to be fortunate. These classes in life are laborious to return by… Whereas the world will rightly bear in mind him for the gentleman he was and the Legacy he constructed… we’ll equally bear in mind for the power he exuded and the battles he fought, at all times silently, at all times sustaining his dignity.”
As I mirror on my affiliation with Cyrus over the previous decade, all that he expressed about his father is equally relevant to Cyrus, too, and befittingly so.
Cyrus was a tremendous boss, a pricey good friend, and a relentless information. It’s a deep private loss for me to see him go, leaving us behind. Gone too quickly. Will miss you, boss.
Views are private. N.S. Rajan was the Group Chief Human Assets Officer at Tata Sons and erstwhile member of the Group Government Council arrange by former Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry. He was conferred the “Distinguished Alumnus Award” by XLRI and serves on its Board of Governors, and is at present authoring a guide on happiness at work.