With a strong belief in ethics and equality, and a focus on utilizing business principles to create social impact, Ratan Tata has successfully carried forward his family's legacy of philanthropy.
Mr. Tata studied architecture and structural engineering at Cornell University and completed an advanced management program at Harvard Business School. Following his graduation from Cornell he returned to India and began his career on the shop floor of Tata Steel. After 30 years of working across companies in the Tata Group, he became the Chairman of Tata Sons—the holding company for Tata Group—which he led until 2012. Over that period, India's largest conglomerate grew to contribute more than two percent of the country's GDP.
He currently serves as Chairman of the Tata Trusts, which focus on a wide array of challenges including malnutrition, water conservation, improving the livelihoods of marginalized people in rural areas, and sustaining India's cultural heritage. A keen supporter of capacity building in the social sector, Mr. Tata has argued that a non-profit "has as much responsibility for being professionally run as a corporate body." He has frequently noted the need for improved innovation, more strategic grant making, and the use of analytics to understand and improve impact.
Giving back to society has always been at the heart of Mr. Tata's professional and personal life. One among the multitudes of Tata Trusts' beneficiaries was the former president of India, KR Narayanan, who told Mr. Tata when presenting him with an award: "I was a Tata scholar. That's how I got my start in life." As Mr. Tata put it to Philanthropy Age, "That was a great moment. I almost broke down in tears."More Remarkable Givers
- Ratan Tata's philanthropic journey began at an early age with his family
- Tata Trusts seeks to explore more holistic, transformative, and hands-on approaches to its philanthropy
- Hard experience taught Tata Trusts that sustainability must be a key criterion for its work
- Ratan Tata says that NGO capacity can be a limit to grant-making
- Properly done, corporate social responsibility efforts should be meaningful and impact-oriented, says Ratan Tata
- Ratan Tata says Indian philanthropy can and should become more sophisticated and results-driven
- Ratan Tata challenges new philanthropists to go after causes where they can do more than just "scratch the surface"
- Ratan Tata says philanthropy has made him more sensitive