Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Chandrasekaran has transformed the Tata group at the world stage: Warren Harris, CEO of Tata Technologies

In an exclusive conversation with Forbes India, Warren Harris, CEO of Tata Technologies, opens up about his experience of being a part of the Tata group, N Chandrasekaran's leadership, challenges that the industry is grappling with and a lot more

Naini Thaker
Published: May 14, 2024 01:36:41 PM IST
Updated: May 14, 2024 08:02:14 PM IST

Chandrasekaran has transformed the Tata group at the world stage: Warren Harris, CEO of Tata TechnologiesWarren Harrism, CEO & Managing Director, Tata Technologies. Image: Mexy Xavier

On being a part of the Tata group

When I first came here, I was very fortunate because the transaction that brought my company into the Tata group was sponsored by Mr Tata. So I had access to the ambassadors that ran the group in 2005. I’ve admired the leadership team in this group and I’ve learnt a great deal from them. Dr Irani at Tata Steel, Ravi Kant at Tata Motors, Mr Ramadorai was our chairman for such a long time… these individuals have been tremendous mentors for me. And great examples of what the Tata group represents. All of them are hard-nosed business people, but all of them have a commitment to the value system and nation-building that defines this group. It is something that has commanded my respect and commitment ever since I’ve been part of it.

Also read: Tata Technologies wants to diversify into EVs and semi-conductors. Will competition and pressure play spoilsport?

On N Chandrasekaran’s leadership

Chandra has really understood the opportunity that the group has to unify its capabilities in different sectors. Look at the waves that the group is making across the EV value chain, aerospace, electronics… these leverage the individual capabilities of each company in a way that represents a multiplying effect when group companies come together. And that has unleashed this energy, which has led to the group’s success in the recent past. In that sense, Chandra has transformed this institution at the world stage, and he has done it quietly without a great deal of fanfare.
I’ve known him for years, and one thing that is not always acknowledged is his great eye for talent. The people moves in leadership teams of group companies… the way in which he’s taken resources from one company and positioned them in another, has gone a long way to drive success. I have no doubt we’ll continue to celebrate the same in the coming years as well.

Also read: TCS Chair: Six takeaways on what you should know about AI

On the industry’s global challenges

Despite what people have been saying about a slowdown in electric vehicles (EVs), we are seeing no slowdown in demand. The industry is likely to go through significant disruption, as the pendulum swings from internal combustion engines (ICE) to EVs. There will be a competitive threat from Chinese and European players, who have been more influential in this market. I was in China three weeks ago and we are seeing seamless integration of the home, the vehicle, and the office. That is the precursor for what the industry is going to look like in the next 10 years.

Grappling with this change for some of the mass production companies is going to be a challenge, and there will be some winners and losers. At the same time, we will have to be thoughtful about who we partner with, who we think will be the winners and the most progressive companies.

On doing things differently

There have been times when we have not been as decisive as we could or should have been. For instance, the divestment of our product business… we played that out over five years, when it could have happened a lot sooner. Those kinds of things take up a great deal of leadership bandwidth.

Great culture in the team is driven by an aligned leadership team; if the team speaks with one voice there is consistency throughout an organisation. And consistency enables performance. If I was to look back, I would have spent more time on those things. Now, I’m trying to make up for lost time.

(This story appears in the 17 May, 2024 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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